Family’s relief as woman who forged brother’s will is jailed - exclusive interview

A FORMER special police constable has been jailed for plotting to cheat her dead partner’s family out of what she believed to be a �1.4million inheritance.

Karen Phillips, 46, forged a will that left her the bulk of Stephen Chambers’s estate, which was actually worth about �300,000, adding a clause that bequeathed �15,000 to his mother and �10,000 to each of his three children.

The mother-of-three from Godmanchester pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation, and last Thursday (January 19) was jailed for eight months.

Mr Chambers’s family described the sentence as a “a moral victory”.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Mr Chambers’s sister, Tricia Martin, 56, who lives in Liverpool, told The Hunts Post: “We cannot express strongly enough the pain and anguish that the selfish actions of Karen Phillips have bestowed upon our family.”

Phillips had been in a relationship with Mr Chambers, of Ouse Valley Way, Buckden, for two years. They had started the relationship in autumn 2009, but Mr Chambers, a property developer, died suddenly of a heart attack at Phillips’s home in Crowhill on January, 23, 2011.

The court heard how Phillips, who lives on state benefits worth �2,000 a month, created the false document after Mr Chambers died, aged 56, back-dating it to January 15.

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She persuaded her mother, Anne Howarth, 74, and friend Lucy Smith, 29, to sign the document. Ms Howarth then sent it to her solicitors.

The court was told that Phillips had tried to convince Mr Chambers’ family of the existence of a new will.

Duncan McDonnell, prosecuting, said that after informing Mr Chambers’ family about his death, Phillips told them he had written a letter the previous month which her mother had opened, realised was a will, and sent it to her solicitors without reading the contents.

Mr McDonnell added that not only had Phillips refused all contact with the family, she avoided going to Mr Chambers’ funeral.

Phillips also visited a storage facility, rented by Mr Chambers, with a “man in a van” and stripped the place of his possessions.

When Mr Chambers’ family finally obtained a copy of the will, they immediately became suspicious.

Mr McDonnell told the court: “Tricia Martin said that [Mr Chambers] had made it clear to them that if anything ever happened to him, the estate would go to his children and his mother would be taken care of.”

After seeking advice from their own solicitor, the family contacted police.

“Karen Phillips lied to the police. She said she did not know when, where or why the will had been made,” Mr McDonnell added.

It was only when Ms Howarth and Ms Smith admitted their part in the forgery, and realising the police were going to seize her computer, Phillips asked to be re-interviewed and confessed.

Michael Cousens, mitigating, told the court that Phillips had come up with the plan to protect her own daughters and claimed that it was Mr Chambers’ intention that her family should be taken care of.

Sentencing, Judge Nicholas Coleman said that the offence amounted to a “calculated act of greed”.

Phillips was jailed for eight months of which she must serve four, and spend the remaining four on licence.

Speaking outside court, Mr Chambers’ brother, Mark, 48, told The Hunts Post: “In the hours and days following our brother’s death, Karen Phillips, her mother and her friends embarked on a frenzy of deception and illegal activities which not only stripped Stephen of every ounce of dignity, but also put our family through even more pain and anguish at a terrible time of grief.

“She never expressed any remorse to our family, especially Stephen’s mother. She has never shown any interest in where he is laid to rest – Stephen’s youngest son, William, had to buy him a suit to be cremated in, because the only possessions she gave us was a crumpled shirt and a gold chain.

“For someone who said that Stephen was her world, it’s like he never existed. Because of her lies and deception it has taken 12 months from Stephen’s death for us to reach a point where we can begin to grieve, and thankfully she is now behind bars where she belongs.”