TWO women were allegedly “tricked” by a doctor into providing signatures which later appeared, without their knowledge, on an wealthy elderly widow’s redrafted will.
Consultant psychiatrist Zholia Alemi stands accused of trying to plunder the £1.3 million estate of 87-year-old former Bank of England employee Gillian Belham just months after she was instructed to assess whether the pensioner was in control of her faculties in 2016.
However, 55-year-old Alemi denies five charges alleging fraud and theft, and is on trial at Carlisle Crown Court.
Today (FRI), evidence was given by Joan Grisdale, one of two women who lived on a road in Keswick where Mrs Belham also owned a bungalow, in addition to her main home near Cockermouth.
During a search of Alemi’s Scaw Road in High Harrington, a document “purporting to be Mrs Belham’s last will and testament” was found, the court has heard. This bore the signatures of both Mrs Grisdale and her neighbour Joyce Patterson.
In an interview watched by jurors, Mrs Belham told police she hadn’t asked either woman to counter-sign the document – nor signed anything in their presence.
During her evidence, Mrs Grisdale was asked by prosecutor Francis McEntee: “Did you ever bear witness to the signing of a will by Gillian Belham?”
Mrs Grisdale said: “Never.” She added: “I have never signed any documents in Mrs Belham’s presence.”
The court has heard Mrs Grisdale and Mrs Patterson were both asked to sign a “blank document” by Alemi “in respect of council tax”.
Opening the case earlier this week, Mr McEntee spoke of Mrs Grisdale having become “an unwitting pawn in the defendant’s scheme”, alleging: “Those two ladies were tricked by the defendant into signing a document thinking it was for an entirely different purpose.”
The trial continues.