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Psychiatrist on trial accused of plundering £1.3m estate of elderly widow

Zholia Alemi

A CONSULTANT psychiatrist accused of trying to plunder the £1.3 million estate of a wealthy elderly widow has gone on trial.

Zholia Alemi is said to have met “vulnerable” Gillian Belham for the “first time” in February, 2016, to give her expert opinion about whether the pensioner – then aged 84, and now 87 – was well enough to live at home and look after herself.

It is alleged that within just three months, Alemi had “re-drafted” Mrs Belham’s will so she was appointed executor of her estate and the main beneficiary under the document. The changes, it is said, meant 55-year-old Alemi stood to inherit one of Mrs Belham’s homes – a Keswick cottage – and was to benefit under a trust in the sum of £300,000. It is further alleged that proceeds from the sale of pensioner’s main residence, near Cockermouth, were to be “held in trust for the benefit of the defendant’s grandchildren”.

Opening the case today (WED), prosecutor Francis McEntee alleged that Alemi had “swept” into Mrs Belham’s life during early 2016 by “pretending to be her friend, exploiting this elderly lady’s trusting nature in order to delve into her financial affairs”.

“All as part of the process,” Mr McEntee alleged to a jury, “of finding the most effective way of stripping Mrs Belham of everything she had”.

Alemi, of Scaw Road, High Harrington, denies two charges which allege the attempted possession of a lasting power of attorney for use in fraud. She also denies the alleged making of a lasting will and testament for use in fraud; and denies a further two counts alleging the theft of bank cards, banking documentation and paperwork, and also 33 watches – all belonging to Mrs Belham, a former Bank of England employee.

The trial, which is expected to last up to two weeks, continues.

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