Man admits he "photocopied, cut it out and pasted" mother in law's old will
By Court reporter | 8th March 2019
A man told a Gloucester jury that he photocopied his mother in law's signature from her old will, cut it out, glued it to a new document, copied it again, before getting that document 'witnessed' on a later occasion by a man in a pub, with the second 'witness' not signing it until four days after the woman died.
He said he believed this would be a 'valid will', when he presented the document to a legal executive in a solicitor's office following her death.
Brian and Julie Fairs, 76 and 57 years old respectively, of Abbotswood Road, Gloucester, have denied forgery between 1st December 2016 and 25th May 2017 by creating a document purporting to be Mrs Gillian Williams' will.
They have also both denied fraud on 24th May 2017 by falsely representing to Kirstie Hopton, a wills and probate executive at Dee & Griffin Solicitors, that the document was the authentic last will and testament of Mrs Williams, thereby intending to make a gain for themselves.
The prosecution allege they forged the will to make Mrs Fairs the sole beneficiary of a £100,000 estate.
Mr Fairs said he 'got on fine' with Mrs Williams despite a previous will being accompanied by a letter that said she did not want him to him to receive any of it and disinheriting her daughter.
The jury of seven women and five men at Gloucester crown court have heard from prosecution witnesses who claim that Mrs Williams did not like her daughter's husband.
Alongside a previous will, she had written a letter saying: "Because my daughter Julie has no children of her own. I do not want her husband or his family to benefit from my will."
Mr Fairs gave evidence today, and told the jury that he got on 'fine' with his late father in law Bill Williams.
When asked how often he would see Mr and Mrs Williams, he said: "Quite often. They would come over, we would go on holidays together. Play darts with him, have a pint with him."
He denied there had been a falling out over money in past.
He said the couple had lent them £1750 for a 'very small extension' to their house, and he had created a book which Mrs Williams would sign as he paid the amount back in full on a monthly basis.
He told the jury that although he 'believed' Mrs Williams was two to three years older than him he called her 'Mum'.
Asked why he replied: "Because she was my Mum. She was my mother in law. I respected her."
Mr Fairs was asked what he thought of the evidence of prosecution witness Lynn Botchett, a sister of Mrs Williams known as 'Mary', who said Mrs Williams did not like him.
"That's a load of rubbish," he said. "We had our moments of falling out like all families do. Differences of opinion, but we got on very well."
He said after Bill Williams died, he took on a 'supporting role' in Mrs Williams life.
He said he did this 'to look after her'.
"During his life Bill did everything for her. When he died she had such a void in her life.
"That was where I stepped in to help. She was very, very grateful."
He told the jury he kept helping her up to her death adding "I maintained the house."
He confirmed that he knew that his wife had been removed from his mother in law's will, and that the estate would now be left to friends of the family instead.
"I was aware that it had been left to the three boys," he said, referring to brothers Martin, Geoffrey and Paul Davies.
He said he was shown a copy of that will by Mrs Williams: "She said have a look at my will, so if anything happens to me you will know what I left."
He told the jury that he retained a copy in his office at home.
When asked what his knowledge was of how the correct procedure for drafting a will he said: "I hadn't any."
Mr Fairs was asked if he knew 'anything about how to make a will?'
"No," he replied. "Not really."
He told the jury Mrs Williams came to stay with them on Christmas Day and Boxing Day 2016.
He said it was a 'bloody marvellous' day.
He was asked what the three talked about on Christmas Day.
"Everything," he said, "everything she wanted to talk about. The old times. A lot about Bill.
"She said 'I think I want to change my will'. That was Christmas day, early evening, after we had dinner.
"I asked her why, and she said 'You know I have left my estate to the three boys, but since Bill died they have not been anywhere near us.
"'All they did was come over and empty the garage of tools.
"'I think I have made a mistake, I want to leave it to Julie.
"'But I don't want to go to a solicitor as it would cost money, and I don't want to spend money'.
"I said 'Look Mum, I can draft you a will up on my computer with the internet.
"'It ain't going to cost you any money'.
"'Fine', she said.
"'I will copy it off the existing will, and then get it over to you for approval'.
"She said 'Yeah, fine', and that is what I did," he told the jury.
He said his wife was not involved at all in the creation of the new document, but he told her what he did.
He told the jury how he went about creating the new 'will'
"Having the existing will in front of me, I then copied all the text that was on that will.
"So it wouldn't upset anything, so I wouldn't put anything wrong.
"I typed it on my computer as a word document.
"I looked at the original will. I photocopied it, cut it out and pasted it onto this one," explaining that he literally 'pasted' the signature on and copied it again.
He said that he got the witness signatures at two later occasions, the second being signed after Mrs Williams died.
Mr Fairs explained why he created the document "It was just to follow mum's wishes. To change the will from the three boys to Julie.
"It was a new will with her wishes on it."
He was asked did he believe it was 'a valid and proper will'.
"Oh yes," he replied "I had written it down and followed the procedure of the previous will."
"The one I had completed for her, was the one she wanted," he told the jury.
"She was quite happy with it. She said that is exactly what I wanted."
He said he made an appointment at Dee & Griffin Solicitors because: "We wanted advice on the will. To act on our behalf on the contents, if we could do it and if it was all okay.
"I said we have made this will. I gave her the will to have a look at, virtually straight away.
"I did tell her I created it. It is mum's wishes.
He said that when he presented the document at the solicitors he 'believed it was a genuine document' and his reason for the appointment was to seek 'advice and verification'.
"I never presented it to her, a solicitor, purporting to be a legal document. I presented it for guidance," he said.
"I thought I was doing it right. Everything I put on there, because I copied it from the other will. Because that was legal I thought it was right."
When it was put to him that 'some might say that sounds ridiculous' he replied: "That is their opinion. I thought I was doing everything right."
The jury have now heard all the evidence from witnesses and will hear speeches from prosecution and defence lawyers before the receive legal directions from the judge and start considering their verdicts.
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