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Closing speeches begin in trial of psychiatrist accused of trying to steal elderly woman's estate

Carlisle Crown Court Photo: ITV Border

Closing speeches have begun in the trial of a doctor accused of trying to steal the £1.3 million estate of an elderly widow.

Zholia Alemi, 55, has been on trial at Carlisle Crown Court for the past week, and denies charges alleging attempted fraud and theft. It is alleged Alemi applied, in 2016, to take out powers of attorney to control the financial and medical affairs of Gillian Belham - now aged 87; and "forged" the pensioner's will in a bid to take control of her large estate.

Prosecutors allege Alemi met Mrs Belham for the first time in February, 2016, having been instructed to assess whether the former Bank of England employee was in control of her faculties. But a jury has heard that inside four months Mrs Belham's will had been charged, with consultant psychiatrist Alemi appointed executor of the estate and made the principal beneficiary.

Mrs Belham's extended family were "entirely written out" of the will, the court has heard, with the bulk of her property bequeathed to a woman she knew only as "Julia" and also to two children - based in the USA and said to be the doctor's grandchildren - of whom she had never heard.

In his closing speech earlier today (WED), prosecuting barrister Francis McEntee alleged that Alemi had "set about stealing" Mrs Belham's identity in life throug the powers of attorney, and "defeating" her wishes "in death by forging the will".

We respectfully submit that is wicked"

– Francis McEntee, Prosecuting Barrister

Alemi, of Scaw Road, High Harrington, has not given evidence during the trial but told police she was a "family friend" of the pensioner and denied going behind her back.

Jurors heard this morning her case is that she was acting as a "Good Samaritan", and that the will which was made had been "a genuine expression of Mrs Belham's wish".

The trial continues.