Godmanchester mum-of-three who forged partner’s will is freed on appeal
A MUM-OF-THREE locked up for forging her deceased partner’s will, has been freed by top judges - who said her case called for “mercy”.
Former special police constable, Karen Phillips, created a false will - naming herself as a main beneficiary - after her partner, Stephen Chambers, died suddenly from heart failure.
Phillips, 46, of Crowhill, Godmanchester, was jailed for eight months at Peterborough Crown Court in January, after admitting fraud by false representation.
But she was freed yesterday by judges sitting at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, after they heard there were “serious concerns” about her daughters’ well-being in her absence.
Mr Justice Blake, sitting with Lord Justice Aikens and Judge David Radford QC, replaced her jail term with a six-month suspended sentence, with 100 hours of unpaid work.
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He said there was evidence Phillips and Mr Chambers, of Ouse Valley Way, Buckden were in the process of buying a house together, where her three daughters - aged 10, 13 and 17 - would also live.
But, although they were advised by solicitors to make provision for each other in their wills, Mr Chambers’ will remained unchanged at the time of his death on January 21.
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The court heard Phillips then drew up a false document, backdating it to January 15, and got two witnesses to sign it.
It indicated most of Mr Chambers’ estate should go to her, with �10,000 going to each of his children by an earlier relationship and his mother receiving �15,000.
Her lawyers told the Appeal Court she “genuinely believed” she was doing what her partner had intended should happen in the event of his death.
Barrister, Michael Cousens, said: “This is not a case where the appellant can be shown to be simply feathering her own nest. What she thought she was doing was carrying out the deceased’s wishes.”
Mr Cousens told the court her children’s current situation was “most unsatisfactory”, with the 17-year-old looking after her 13-year-old sister, whilst the youngest girl - who has serious medical problems - was staying with her father.
He said this means the 10-year-old, who suffers from a “rare and complicated disease”, is living away from her school and has missed medical appointments during the six weeks her mother has been in prison.
He added the 13-year-old - a promising gymnast who has been tipped as a future Olympic contender - was unable to attend training sessions without her mother to take her.
Allowing the appeal, Mr Justice Blake said the crown court judge’s decision to jail Phillips was “not wrong”, but that - in light of the detrimental effect on her family - the Appeal Court could show “mercy”.
He added: “Having regard to the matters that have been argued before us, and in particular to the interests of the children and the serious concerns as to the quality and nature of their care whilst their mother serves a short sentence, we conclude that mercy - and nothing less - does permit this court to intervene.”