Consultant psychiatrist jailed for trying to defraud £1.3 million from elderly widow

|News, Fraud and economic crime

A psychiatrist, employed as a consultant by the NHS's Memory Matters in Cumbria, has been jailed for five years after re-drafting the will of an 84-year-old lady in an attempt to inherit her home and life savings.

Dr Zholia Alemi first attending Mrs Belham's home in Cockermouth, Cumbria in February 2016 in order to assess her cognitive abilities. By May 2016 Mrs Belham's will had been changed, appointing Dr Alemi as the executor and the principal beneficiary of her estate.

The offences came to light after Dr Alemi was suspected of stealing watches from her home. When police searched Dr Alemi's house, they found financial documents belonging to Mrs Belham plus several versions of the redrafted will.

Victoria Agullo for the CPS said: "Zholia Alemi abused her position as a doctor by befriending a vulnerable and elderly lady, who she had been employed to safeguard, in an attempt to line her own pockets.

"Evidence presented to the jury showed that following the first meeting with Mrs Belham, Dr Alemi reported back to her employer that there was no requirement for her to receive any treatment for dementia, and discharged her from the care of the NHS. She then infiltrated Mrs Belham's life in order to take control of her finances. She set up a fake email account and stole the keys for Mrs Belham's second home, where she re-directed her mail, in order to intercept all correspondence relating to the changing of the will.

"Throughout the case, Dr Alemi denied any wrongdoing and lied about how long she had known the victim, claiming to be a long-term friend. However after hearing all the evidence against her, the jury found her guilty of fraud. Today as she begins this prison sentence, she must now face up to the consequences of her despicable actions."

Notes to editors

  • Victoria Agullo is a Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West
  • Zholia Alemi was found not guilty of theft of the watches.

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