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Doctor jailed for forging will of frail widow

Zholia Alemi

A DOCTOR has been jailed after being found guilty of faking the will of a wealthy elderly widow just months after being asked to assess her.

Despite denying any criminal conduct, Zholia Alemi was convicted, unanimously, of four fraud and theft charges today (THURS) following a week-long trial at Carlisle Crown Court.

A jury heard how 55-year-old consultant psychiatrist Alemi “swept” into the life of frail and vulnerable Gillian Belham in February 2016 after being asked to rule on her wellbeing. Alemi concluded no treatment was needed for the pensioner, who was discharged from an NHS service assisting those with dementia.

But within four months the doctor had redrafted the will of Mrs Belham, now aged 87, as she sought to get her hands on the former Bank of England employee’s £1.3 million estate. She fraudulently applied for powers of attorney to control Mrs Belham’s medical and financial affairs, stole bank cards and also duped two Keswick women into providing signatures they thought would be used for another purpose.

Jurors heard childless Mrs Belham’s extended family and a raft of charities were “entirely written out” of the bogus will. Instead Alemi stood to inherit a Keswick bungalow which Mrs Belham owned, and was poised to rake in a further £300,000. In addition, the proceeds of Mrs Belham’s main home near Cockermouth were to be held in trust for the benefit of Alemi’s grandchildren.

When later asked by police whether the doctor has assisted with her financial affairs, Mrs Belham told an officer: “I think she just helped herself.”

Alemi, of Scaw Road, High Harrington, was jailed for five years by Judge James Adkin for what he called “wicked” offending. Passing sentence, Judge Adkin told Alemi: “This was despicable, cruel criminality motivated by pure greed and you must be severely punished for it.”

Detective Constable Louise Carter said: “Alemi saw someone who was vulnerable and sought to take advantage of her to make a financial gain.

“Her actions are all the more abhorrent as she met the victim in her capacity as a medical professional and should have been helping her.

“Instead she sought to befriend the elderly woman and quickly made plans to commit theft and fraud.

“I’d like to thank the carers and other witnesses who came forward to raise concerns about their suspicions and I hope today’s sentencing shows how seriously such offences are taken by the courts.”

Detective Inspector Matt Scott said: “This was a particularly complex case and I would like to thank the officers who worked on it for their diligence and professionalism which has resulted in a significant sentence.”

Victoria Agullo for the CPS said: “Zholia Alemi abused her position as a doctor by befriending a vulnerable and elderly lady, who she had been employed to safeguard, in an attempt to line her own pockets.

“Evidence presented to the jury showed that following the first meeting with Mrs Belham, Dr Alemi reported back to her employer that there was no requirement for her to receive any treatment for dementia, and discharged her from the care of the NHS. She then infiltrated Mrs Belham’s life in order to take control of her finances.  She set up a fake email account and stole the keys for Mrs Belham’s second home, where she re-directed her mail, in order to intercept all correspondence relating to the changing of the will.

“Throughout the case, Dr Alemi denied any wrongdoing and lied about how long she had known the victim, claiming to be a long term friend.  However after hearing all the evidence against her, the jury found her guilty of fraud. Today as she begins this prison sentence, she must now face up to the consequences of her despicable actions.”

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