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Gloucestershire Business News

Woman and husband found guilty of forging mother's will

A woman who turned to forgery with her husband's help after they were cut out of her mother's will was warned today that they both face jail.

Brian Fairs, 76, and his wife Julie, 57, of Abbotswood Road, Gloucester, had denied forgery but were convicted by a jury today after a seven day trial at Gloucester crown court.

The jury found that between 1st December 2016 and 25th May 2017 the couple 'created a document purporting to be Mrs Gillian Williams' will.'

The couple had also denied fraud on 24th May 2017 by claiming to Kirstie Hopton, a wills and probate executive at Dee & Griffin Solicitors, that the forged document was the authentic last will and testament of Mrs Williams.

The couple's offences came after Mrs Williams made it clear in a letter that she did not want them to benefit from her Last Will and Testament.

Mrs Williams stipulated "Because my daughter Julie has no children of her own. I do not want her husband or his family to benefit from my will."

The court heard that Mrs Williams did not like Mr Fairs. The jury heard she viewed him as 'cantankerous', 'arrogant' and 'dominating' of her daughter.

After she died in May 2017, Mr and Mrs Fairs took a document to Dee & Griffins Solicitors that they said was her will.

In fact, the couple had obtained a copy of an existing valid will and used it as a template to create a new one which made Mrs Fairs the sole beneficiary.

It cut out the original will's bequest to three friends of the family, brothers Martin, Geoffrey and Paul Davies.

Mr and Mrs Fairs literally copied, cut and pasted the signature of Mrs Williams into the new document, the jury was told.

The document was then 'witnessed' by a man in a pub at a later stage, and then further signed by a second person who had called at the Fairs' house with a condolence card four days after Mrs Williams died.

When the couple presented the false document to Kirsty Hopton, she ran her finger over the signature and told them it was not 'wet ink'.

Mr Fairs said he believed he was following his mother in law's wishes as she had told them she wanted to change her will on Christmas Day 2016.

He told the court he presented the document at the solicitor's office for guidance and not with the intent to deceive.

However the jury of seven women and five men rejected the couple's account and returned unanimous guilty verdicts after just under three hours of deliberation.

At Gloucester Crown Court, Recorder Ignatius Hughes QC told the couple "You have been convicted on what was frankly overwhelming evidence.

"These offences are so serious that on the face of it, only immediate custody can be imposed.

"The forgery is an inherently serious offence, it is an attempt to pervert the course of justice, and the fraud is relating to an estate of £100,000.

"By a matter of public policy it is a serious offence. The overwhelmingly likely outcome is immediate custody."

He granted the couple bail until the sentence hearing on 29th March.

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