A man has been jailed for 12 months for attempting to forge his mother-in-law’s will.
Brian Fairs, 77, copied and pasted Gillian Williams’ signature onto a forged will to try and ensure himself a share of her £100,000 estate. His wife, Julie Fairs, was also convicted of forgery and fraud but was given a 12 month suspended sentence.
Mrs Williams had cut her daughter and son-in-law from her will to stop them from benefitting from her estate when she passed away. During the hearing, the jury heard that Mrs Williams thought her son-in-law was ‘cantankerous and arrogant’ and had ‘dominated’ her daughter.
The judge at Gloucester Crown Court, Recorder Mr Ignatius Hughes QC, commented that it was clear from her wills and conversations with others that Mrs Williams did not want either her daughter or Mr Fairs to benefit from her estate and had written her out of her will.
Mrs Williams’ sister, Lynn Botchett, had told Gloucester Crown Court that “she never wanted anything to go to Julie, never.” Ms Botchett believed there had been problems in the relationship since Mrs Fairs had contacted her biological father, Stan Howitt, behind Mrs Williams’ back. The court heard that Mrs Williams changed her will after her son Terence Howitt died.
The genuine will was made with Christopher Davidson Solicitors and named beneficiaries as three brothers, Martin, Geoffrey, and Paul Davies. Their father, Frank Davies, said that Mrs Williams had told him no more than 3 years prior to her death that ‘there is no way I can leave anything to her, she has had everything she is going to get out of me’.
After Mrs Williams passed away in May 2017, Mr Fairs copied and pasted a signature from his mother-in-law’s real will onto a forged version.
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 added: ‘The signature was not an ink signature, it looked like it had been cut and pasted’ and that he had ‘taken the signature off a previous will. In addition, some page numbers and dates were not consistent and that some pages had staple holes while others did not.
The judge said that he believed that Mr Fairs was the driving force behind the scheme and his wife had gone along with it. During his ruling, the judge said that Mr Brian Fairs was ‘responsible for the dishonour that now falls on you and your wife for what you decided to do’.
Brian Fairs’ defence solicitor said 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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