South East Wales

Millionaire's partner fined over faked will

Gillian Clemo
Image caption Gillian Clemo claimed she had found the missing will after learning Mr John was still married

A woman who faked her millionaire partner's will to stop his ex-wife inheriting his £5m fortune has been fined £8,515.

Estate agent Chris John died suddenly from a brain haemorrhage in 2008 at the age of 47.

Initially, no will could be found during the month after his death until Gillian Clemo, 58, "miraculously" claimed to find one.

Clemo was convicted by a jury of forgery in May.

"At 58 you are of previous good character," said Judge Rhyd Rowlands at Cardiff Crown Court.

"This is an extremely unusual and very sad case.

"I am of the view that some degree of punishment is needed to deter others from acting as you did.

"This was a serious matter and what you did was very wrong."

Solicitor Clare Strowbridge, who represents Mr John's daughter, said after the case: "We will apply to the chancery division of the High Court to have the will declared invalid.

"That means that Chris John died intestate - without making a will - and the state will divide the assets.

"We would expect Mrs John and his daughter will benefit from that.

"Gillian Clemo won't stand to get anything because she wasn't married to Mr John."

Trial

During a trial at Newport Crown Court, jurors heard Mr John's estate included a property portfolio, luxury cars including an Aston Martin and a Porsche, along with a valuable collection of World War II medals.

The court was told that days after hearing that Mr John's divorce had not been finalised, with his wife Helen standing to inherit his fortune, Clemo claimed she had found a will at the home they shared in Cardiff while searching a box of mementoes.

The prosecution successfully argued that the will was a fake.

It had Mr John's daughter's name spelled incorrectly, fake signatures and the timing of its discovery was "extraordinary".

In turn Mrs John, 48, then forged an extra addition to the will, and police were called in to investigate.

During the trial, John Philpotts, prosecuting, said: "After she was arrested Mrs John admitted falsifying the document and she received a police caution.

"But following the investigation into Mrs John, police began to look into her suspicions that Clemo's document was a fake.

Image caption Helen John was cautioned for forging an extra addition to the will

"She was later arrested and charged."

Collapsed

The court also previously heard that Clemo collapsed on the floor when Mrs John discovered that there had been no decree absolute to end her marriage - despite the pair being separated for more than seven years.

Three days later, Clemo produced his "will" in the hope she could stay in the house.

Mr Philpotts told the court a handwriting expert had also concluded that Mr John's signature was a forgery.

The forged will said that his inheritance would be held by executors until his teenage daughter reached the age of 27.

Defending Clemo, Charles Row told the court that Mrs John would do anything to gain control of her husband's estate which he said was worth "millions".

But Mrs John said in evidence: "I wanted to look after my daughter. I clearly feel I have a right as a mother to have an input into her life."

Referring to her own forgery, she said: "It was a criminal offence and I wasn't thinking clearly - I know I did wrong."