A churchwarden accused of murdering his lover and targeting an elderly neighbour to benefit from their wills says the killing “never happened”.
Benjamin Field, 28, denies murdering Peter Farquhar, 69, and conspiring to murder retired headmistress Ann Moore-Martin, 83.
Mr Farquhar died in October 2015, while Miss Moore-Martin died from natural causes in May 2017.
Mr Field told jurors: “This murder never happened. No-one killed anyone.”
‘Lot of misery’
PhD student Mr Field lived at Mr Farquhar’s home in Maids Moreton in Buckinghamshire, a few doors down from Miss Moore-Martin. He admitted deceiving both into believing he was in a relationship with them.
Oxford Crown Court heard the defendant believed if he stayed there long enough he would inherit Mr Farquhar’s house.
Jurors have been told Mr Field gradually tried to make the pair believe they were losing their mind by poisoning Mr Farquhar’s food and drink with hallucinogens and neat alcohol, and writing “messages from God” on the mirrors of deeply religious Miss Moore-Martin.
Under cross-examination, prosecutor Oliver Saxby asked if Mr Field was there when Mr Farquhar died and whether he had encouraged him to drink alcohol or even suffocated him, perhaps with a cushion.
The defendant said he was not there at the time of the death.
“The great thing about drugging him was that with all the alcohol around many people would think he was an old ally – that was your principle purpose,” said Mr Saxby.
Mr Field replied: “No, it wasn’t.”
Prosecutors claimed Mr Farquhar – who was torn about his sexuality because of his religion – died after undergoing a gay “betrothal” ceremony with Mr Field.
Mr Field told jurors he had caused Mr Farquhar “a lot of misery” but it was not what he had set out to do.
Both Mr Field and magician Martyn Smith, 32, deny charges of murder, conspiracy to murder and possession of an article for the use in fraud.
Mr Field, of Wellingborough Road, Olney, Buckinghamshire, also denies an alternative charge of attempted murder but has admitted four charges of fraud and two of burglary.
In addition, Mr Smith, of Penhalvean, Redruth, Cornwall, denies two charges of fraud and one of burglary.
Tom Field, also of Wellingborough Road, Olney, Buckinghamshire, denies a single charge of fraud.
The trial was adjourned to Thursday.