Solicitors have helped rumble a man now jailed for creating a false letter of wishes in an attempt to steal more than £2m from a deceased friend’s estate.
Stewart David Pearman, 75, of Tewkesbury, was sentenced to five years and three months imprisonment at Worcester Crown Court, for fraud and making a false statement on oath.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) brought charges against Mr Pearman following an investigation by West Mercia Police.
In 2015, an elderly woman known to Pearman was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away at her home on 7 August 2016.
She had written a will in 2014, making an air ambulance charity the main beneficiary of her estate. She left £25,000 to Mr Pearman, who she had appointed as one of the executors of her will.
Shortly after her death, Mr Pearman produced a document entitled ‘Letter of Wishes’ to solicitors dealing with her estate, worth nearly £2.2m, declaring that he was now the sole executor of the will and the main beneficiary.
However, the unnamed solicitors raised doubts about the legitimacy of the letter of wishes and an investigation was launched.
It was found that Mr Pearman wrote it shortly before the deceased passed away, and medical evidence from her GP confirmed that she did not have mental capacity when the letter was purported to have been signed by her.
Two further defendants, Aleksander Yuriev Shikov, 35, and Luke William Derrett, 42, provided sworn affidavits confirming that they signed the letter of wishes as witnesses after it was signed by the deceased.
However, they later confessed that they in fact signed it after the deceased had died.
They both pleaded guilty to wilfully making a false statement on oath and handed four-month sentences, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to complete 60 hours of unpaid community work.
Gurminder Sanghera, a senior legal manager at the CPS, said: “Stewart Pearman betrayed a friendship of 25 years and abused his position of trust as an executor of a dying lady’s will, for his own personal benefit.”
Detective Constable Simon Timbrell of West Mercia Police said: “This was a despicable crime that sought to both take advantage of an incredibly vulnerable woman and deny a life-saving charity vital funds. We are very pleased the estate will be bequeathed as intended.”