1. ITV Report

'Church warden and magician' arrested after two elderly teachers murdered in the same village

Victim Peter Farquhar was found dead in 2015 Photo: Remembering Peter Farquhar/Facebook

A church warden and a magician have been arrested on suspicion of the double murder of two elderly former teachers living in the same village.

Thames Valley Police have announced that they are treating the deaths of 69-year-old Peter Farquhar in October 2015 and Ann Moore-Martin, 83, who died a year-and-a-half later in May 2017, as murder.

The two pensioners lived three houses apart in Manor Park in the village of Maids Moreton in Buckinghamshire.

The murders happened in Maids Moreton, Bucks Credit: PA

Mr Farquhar's lodger, Ben Field, 27, a church warden from Towcester, and friend 31-year-old Martyn Smith, a magician, have been named locally as two of three men arrested as part of the double-murder probe.

Four properties in Milton Keynes, Towcester and Cornwall are being searched by detectives.

It is understood that both men helped look after Mr Farquhar as his health deteriorated in the final months of his life.

The two students at the University of Buckingham, where Mr Farquhar worked as a guest lecturer, also persuaded their former teacher to publish his novels.

They also set up a company with Mr Farquhar, called Farquhar Studies Ltd, in order to publish the academic's work.

The two pensioners lived three houses apart in Maids Moreton Credit: PA

The dedication in Mr Farquhar's book reads: "This book is dedicated to MARTYN SMITH and BEN FIELD whose encouragement was invaluable and without whom this book would not exist."

Mr Farquhar used to be a lay preacher at Stowe Parish Church where Mr Field is listed as a deputy warden.

He previously taught at Manchester Grammar School and Stowe School in Buckinghamshire.

Channel 4 News political correspondent Michael Crick, who was taught by Mr Farquhar at Manchester Grammar School and who remained life-long friends with him, said he was shocked by the police investigation.

Peter's death was very sudden and sad and it is all the more distressing that police are treating it as a possible murder. He was one of the most extraordinary teachers of my life and many former pupils of Stowe and Manchester Grammar School would agree.

He was a very inspirational teacher to whom I owe a lot. He was somewhat of a father figure to many of us.

– Michael Crick, Channel 4 News political correspondent

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said the causes of death are yet to be determined.

The 27-year-old man from Towcester and the 31-year-old, from Redruth, have each been detained on suspicion of two counts of murder, two counts of conspiracy to murder, two counts of suspicion of fraud by false representation, one count of conspiracy to defraud and one count of burglary.

Meanwhile, a 22-year-old man from Milton Keynes has been arrested on suspicion of one count of conspiracy to defraud, one count of conspiring to commit fraud by false representation and one count of suspicion of fraud by false representation.