Ex judge admits forging will to inherit property

A court has heard that a retired judge and her husband forged a will to inherit two cottages as well stealing over £23,000 to renovate them.

69 year-old former solicitor, Margaret Hampshire and her 67 year-old husband, Alan Hampshire admitted to the forging of a Mr Martin Blanche’s will, who died in 2007.

The estate of Mr Blanche was transferred by Mrs Hampshire, to a cousin who she held power of attorney over.

In order to renovate the properties, Mr Hampshire also proceeded to steal money from the cousin.

The trial, heard at Nottingham Crown Court, was already part-way through when the couple chose to change their pleas and admit to a total of six offences.

A series of other charges against the husband and wife were ordered to lie on file.

It was a shared thought from those that knew Mr Blanche, who lived by himself, that it would have been unlikely he would have written a will due to his alleged problems with reading and writing, according to Nottingham Police.

Mr Blanche’s will was however, falsely declared as a true document by Mrs Hampshire, who was a former tribunal judge with probate experience.

The estate, which included two cottages in Rolleston, was then transferred by Mrs Hampshire to her cousin Josephine Burroughs, who was also a relative of Mr Blanche.

Mrs Hampshire possessed power of attorney for her cousin, and admitted to dishonestly exceeding this position through fraud, having transferred the Rolleston properties to her daughter. As well as this, she also confessed to creating a forged document as a means of avoiding inheritance tax.

Having knocked through the adjacent cottages to form a single extended home, in 2016 Mr and Mrs Hampshire moved from their Essex home into the Rolleston property.

Mr Hampshire also admitted to stealing from Ms Burroughs a total of £23,176 during 2012, the majority of which, established by detectives, was used to do up the neighbouring cottages.

Mrs Hampshire was still a practising judge at the time the offences took place.

Ms Burroughs, who died in 2014, never knew the will had been forged.

At this point, the police got involved and arrested the couple in September of 2014.

Mrs Hampshire pleaded guilty to fraud and two counts of forgery in court, whilst Mr Hampshire admitted two matters of theft and one charge of forgery.

A Nottinghamshire Police spokesman commented on the emergence of the couple’s dishonesty which “unravelled after a complex police investigation undertaken by the fraud department, which included handwriting analysis by an expert, financial investigation and computer data analysis.

“The Hampshires denied the offences. However, they changed their pleas to guilty and are due to be sentenced on 20 December.”

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