Scammer, 75, created false document to steal £2m intended for air ambulance charity

The 75-year-old suddenly stood to inherit £2,186,079. Credit: West Mercia Police

A scammer who created a false document in an attempt to steal more than £2 million intended for an air ambulance charity, has been jailed in Worcester.

Stewart Pearman from Gloucestershire "betrayed the friendship of a dying woman and abused his position of trust" in a bid to become the main beneficiary of her estate.

The woman was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2015 and died the following year.

Prior to her death, she wrote a will making an air ambulance charity the main beneficiary of her estate.

But following her death, Pearman produced a document he created himself which was titled "Letter of Wishes" which declared that he was the sole executor of the will and the main beneficiary.

The 75-year-old suddenly stood to inherit £2,186,079 - significantly more than the £25,000 which she had intended to leave to him in the 2014 will.

He also involved two further defendants Aleksander Shikov, 35, and Luke Derrett, 42, by requesting them to sign the letter of wishes as witnesses.

Pearman, of Bredon Road, Tewkesbury, was jailed for five years and three months at Worcester Crown Court for fraud and making a false statement on oath.

Gurminder Sanghera, a senior legal manager for the Crown Prosecution Service, 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.

"He dishonestly manufactured a forged ‘Letter of Wishes’ so that he would receive an extra £2 million which was intended to benefit an air ambulance charity – and be used to save lives.

“The CPS work closely with the police, to bring fraudulent offenders like these to justice.”

Solicitors appointed to process the will raised doubts about the legitimacy of the letter of wishes and an investigation was launched.

It was found that Pearman wrote the letter of wishes shortly before the deceased passed away.

And medical evidence from the deceased’s GP confirmed that she did not have mental capacity when the letter was purported to have been signed by her.

Shikov and Derrett provided sworn affidavits confirming that they signed the letter of wishes as witnesses after it was signed by the deceased. 

They later confessed though that they signed the letter after the deceased had died.

They both pleaded guilty to wilfully making a false statement on oath and were sentenced to four months imprisonment suspended for 12 months.

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.

“We hope this sentence sends a strong message that anyone seeking to take advantage of vulnerable people, particularly for financial gain, will be prosecuted.”