A scheming son has been jailed for four years after forging his own mother’s will in an attempt to gain control of her estate.
Stewart Caygill, 53, created the document after his mother Theresa, from Horden, died leaving no will.
I’m afraid I’m left feeling unable to believe a word you sayJudge Deborah Sherwin
He used it to persuade solicitors to apply for the legal right for him to deal with her estate.
Teesside Crown Court heard how he also took £26,000 of his mother’s money, but his lawyer disputed it all ended up in Caygill’s pocket. Mrs Caygill passed away in December 2013.
Judge Deborah Sherwin said: “I’m entirely satisfied that there was no will in place at this time.
“Shortly after her death you produced a will claiming the signature had been written by her.
“That was a lie. You then used the forged will to persuade solicitors to apply for probate on the will for your mother’s estate.”
Mrs Caygill had been left 50% of the ownership of her home in Horden when Caygill’s father died.
Quarter shares were left to Caygill and his brother Philip.
The court was also told that Caygill, a director of his own company, had forged his mother’s signature on a Halifax building society document while she was still alive in order to gain control of her affairs.
Judge Sherwin said: “You used your mother’s money in part for your own ends.
“A sad feature of this case is that your mother appears to have been aware you were stealing from her but at her age felt unable to do anything about it.
“It’s hard to assess precisely how much you stood to gain as a result of this deception because of the question marks about the validity of various documents.”
Caygill, of Yohden Crescent, Peterlee, was found guilty after a trial of forgery of the will and of using it with intent to commit fraud.
A previous trial last September had to be abandoned when Caygill produced a series of false documents.
Judge Sherwin said Caygill’s mother was particularly vulnerable and his lies had added greatly to his brother’s anguish.
She described Caygill as devious and scheming.
“I’m afraid I’m left feeling unable to believe a word you say,” she told him.
William Byrne, mitigating, said Caygill’s offending was a result of a long-running feud with his brother.
He described the offences as “a major moment of madness” and an aberration.
Referring to the £26,000, Mr Byrne said: “He didn’t pocket it. It was distributed in various ways.”
A proceeds of crime hearing will take place at a later date.