BBC One’s latest true crime drama,The sixth commandmenttells the chilling true story of how a young student named Ben Field gassed two neighbors, abused them and murdered one.
The show, now available in full on BBC iPlayer, stars Timothy Spall as Peter Farquhar, a teacher and academic who was duped into believing Field (played by Éanna Hardwicke) was in love with him in the early 2010s.
Field moved in with Farquhar, who had suppressed his sexuality for years, and the couple became “engaged,” with Field convincing Farquhar to make him the sole beneficiary of his will.
Unbeknownst to Farquhar, Field began drugging him with hallucinogens. Later in court, Oliver Saxby QC, the lead prosecutor, told a jury that the drugs had left Farquhar “a wreck of his former personality”.
Field eventually killed 69-year-old Farquhar in 2015, making it appear that he drank himself to death.
After Farquhar’s death, Field targeted his neighbor, retired principal Ann Moore-Martin (Anne Reid), with whom he also began a relationship.
He wrote messages on her mirror, telling her that they came from God, and asked her to leave everything to Field.
Moore-Martin’s niece became suspicious of the new man in her aunt’s life and it was her decision to alert the police that eventually led to Field being caught for Farquhar’s murder.
Moore-Martin died of natural causes in 2017 at the age of 83, but Field admitted to cheating on her in her final years.
So what happened to Field?
Former church leader Field was arrested in 2018 and charged with murder, fraud, conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder.
At Oxford Crown Court in 2019, the 28-year-old admitted without any remorse to having entered into sham relationships with Farquhar and Moore-Martin in order to cheat on them, but denied killing them or having any intention of killing them .
After a three-month trial during which the jury was shown Field documenting his abuses in poetry, magazines and videos, Field was eventually convicted of the murder of Farquhar, acquitted of the charge of conspiracy to commit murder and also of attempted murder in connection with Moore acquitted -Martin.
During the trial, Field confessed that he was “interested in the extremes of death and the idea of killing” and was collecting books and essays on dying.
He had a journal listing ways he might kill Moore-Martin, such as: “Heart attack – electrical device, dehydration, climbing stairs, sex?, in the bathroom?” … OD on their prescriptions … steeple … sleep apnea.”
He was sentenced to life in prison with a 36-year sentence and has lost appeals against the conviction twice.
At trial, two psychiatrists said Field suffered from either narcissistic personality disorder or psychopathic personality disorder.
Mr Judge Sweeney told the Criminal Court that he “lived on deceit and deceit and was a well practiced and able liar”.
He added: “You have very little understanding of your own inner world, which leads to the need to deceive and destroy others. You also kept notes and journals of what you planned and did for the joy it brought you.”