Scammer jailed for trying to steal £2.1m left by friend to air ambulance charity
Stewart Pearman, 75, forged a letter to solicitors claiming to be from a woman who had been a friend for 25 years.
A scammer who tried to steal more than £2 million left by a elderly friend to an air ambulance charity before she died of cancer has been jailed for five years and three months.
Stewart Pearman, 75, forged a letter to solicitors which said he stood to inherit £2,186,079.
The woman, a friend of his for 25 years, was later deemed not to have sufficient mental capacity to have understood the letter when it was purported to have been signed by her.
The document, which was a letter of wishes to solicitors, said Pearman was the main beneficiary and sole executor of the will.
The woman had vowed to give the multimillion-pound sum to an air ambulance charity in 2014 and left £25,000 to Pearman, who she had appointed as one of the main executors of her will.
After she died on August 7 2016, he showed the letter to solicitors who became suspicious and began an investigation.
It emerged he had written the letter of wishes shortly before the woman died, and her GP said she did not have mental capacity when the letter was said to have been signed by her.
Two other men – Aleksander Yuriev Shikov, 35, and Luke Derrett, 42 – were lured into the scam by signing the letter of wishes as witnesses.
They provided sworn affidavits confirming they signed the letter as witnesses after it was signed by the deceased.
They later confessed they had signed the letter after the woman had died.
Pearman, from Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, was jailed for five years and three months at Worcester Crown Court on Thursday for fraud and making a false statement on oath. He must also pay £1,500 in prosecution costs and a victim surcharge.
Shikov and Derrett each pleaded guilty to wilfully making a false statement on oath and their four-month prison term was suspended for 12 months.
They must each do 60 hours of unpaid work and pay £510 towards prosecution costs and a victim surcharge.
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.
“Two other men, Yuriev Shikov and Luke Derrett, assisted Pearman in his gross breach of trust by falsely signing the document as witnesses.
“The CPS work closely with the police to bring fraudulent offenders like these to justice.”
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 lifesaving 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.”