A man gets 12 months in prison for his attempts at forging a will for his mother-in-law.
Brian Fairs, 77, is guilty of copying and pasting Gillian Williams’ signature, then forging a will to try and ensure a share of her £100,000 estate. His wife, Julie Fairs, also earns a conviction of forgery and fraud. However, her 12 month sentence comes with a suspension.
Mrs Williams had cut her daughter and son-in-law out of her will to stop them from benefitting from her estate in death. During the hearing, the jury heard that Mrs Williams thought her son-in-law was ‘cantankerous and arrogant’, even ‘dominating’ of her daughter.
The judge hearing the case at Gloucester Crown Court was Recorder Mr Ignatius Hughes QC. Hughes says that it was clear from both her wills and conversations with others that the late Mrs Williams didn’t want either her daughter or Mr Fairs to benefit from her estate. Thus, she wrote them both out of her will.
Mrs Williams’ sister, Lynn Botchett, states in her testimony to Gloucester Crown Court that “she never wanted anything to go to Julie, never.”
Ms Botchett alleges there had been problems in the relationship since Mrs Fairs and her biological father, Stan Howitt, spoke behind Mrs Williams’ back. Evidence in court shows that Mrs Williams made alterations to her will after the death of her son, Terence Howitt.
The genuine will against the forging of a will
The genuine will was made through Christopher Davidson Solicitors, with three beneficiaries – brothers Martin, Geoffrey, and Paul Davies – in it. Their father, Frank Davies, offers testimony of what Mrs Williams had told him within the three years prior to her death.
“There is no way I can leave anything to her,” he says. “She has had everything she is going to get out of me.”
Fairs accused of forging a will
After Mrs Williams’ death in May 2017, Brian Fairs copied and pasted a signature from his mother-in-law’s real will onto a forging of a will.
The solicitors told the jury Mr and Mrs Fairs had presented her with ‘three loose pages of paper together in a wallet’ and that wills “tend to be bound together so you know there are no pages missing’, and that Mr Fairs had claimed that he had drafted the will himself. She adds the following.
‘The signature was not an ink signature, it looked like it had been cut and pasted.’ and that he had ‘taken the signature off (of) a previous will. In addition, some page numbers and dates were not consistent.” Moreover, “some pages had staple holes while others did not.
The judge said he believes that Mr Fairs was the driving force behind the scheme and his wife had gone along with it. During his ruling, the judge said of Brian Fairs that he
was ‘responsible for the dishonour that now falls on you and your wife for what you decided to do.’
In defence of Fairs’ actions
Brian Fairs’ defence solicitor says his client’s actions were ‘about as far from sophistication as one can imagine’ and that – while Mr and Mrs Fairs had originally denied the charges – Mr Fairs now accepted that he was ‘incredibly stupid to start the process.
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