A JURY has heard a consultant psychiatrist was named “everywhere” on an elderly Cumbrian widow’s last will and testament which, it is alleged, she “faked”.
Dr Zholia Alemi, 55, is accused of drafting a fraudulent document for Gillian Belham, an 87-year-old retired Bank of England worker, so she and her grandchildren could inherit a lion’s share of the pensioner’s £1.3 million estate.
Alemi denies five charges – three alleging fraud and two alleging theft – and is on trial at Carlisle Crown Court.
The prosecution say Alemi “swept” into Mrs Belham’s life, in February 2016. Alemi had been asked to assess her mental capacity, after questions had been raised by hospital staff, but concluded she did not required any treatment.
But within five months, Mrs Belham’s will had been changed with Alemi – whom she said she knew only as “Julia” – appointed executor of the sizeable estate. Alemi stood to inherit a cottage at Chestnut Park in Keswick, and benefit under a trust to the tune of £300,000.
Today (THURS), the jury was shown a video of a 40-minute interview Mrs Belham gave to a police detective. Referring to the naming of Alemi as an executor, the officer asked: “Is that something you’ve signed? Have you signed a will?”
Mrs Belham responded: “I’m not sure. She gave me a copy of the will and she named herself everywhere but I don’t recall signing it.” She spoke of knowing Alemi for “round about six months but probably not quite as much as that”.
The officer asked her: “Have you asked Julia to help you with your financial things?”
“I think she just helped herself,” Mrs Belham replied. “She started looking through papers. She did this one sheet that made me laugh. It was a sheet that said ‘this, that and the other, and then, if there was nobody named to get this, that or the other she was putting her name in.”
Such items, she said, included “bits and pieces, jewellery which was not terribly valuable”. “Any personal things that I had had, and hadn’t actually written down myself.”
Mrs Belham also said: “I don’t know why I said I gave Chestnut Park to this Zholia Alemi.”
“Were you wanting her to have that?” asked the officer.
“Not particularly,” Mrs Belham replied.
The trial continues.