Posted on 13:14:00 on 18th October 2018
A consultant psychiatrist who took advantage of an elderly patient, changing her will to make herself a beneficiary, has today been sentenced to five years in prison.
Zholia Alemi, 55, of Scaw Road, High Harrington, denied charges of fraud and theft but was found guilty at Carlilse Crown Court.
The court heard how the victim was referred to the Memory and Later Life Service at Workington Community Hospital following the death of her husband. Alemi, a Consultant Psychiatrist working for the service, visited the victim’s home in the Cockermouth area in February 2016 to conduct an assessment but concluded that she did not require treatment for dementia and discharged her from the service.
In March and April, carers reported concerns after the victim had spoken of visits from Alemi, with the pair going out to dinner. Alemi was spoken to by police and told officers the pair were old friends from her time caring for the victim’s husband. The victim herself was spoken to and did not feel anything untoward was going on.
However, further evidence came to light indicating that there were a number of watches belonging to the victim which were missing. In June 2016, the victim was discussing her care needs when she began disclosing that Alemi – known to the victim as Julia – had been drafting a will.
The victim said: “Julia has drafted a will. Julia has put herself down for everything as I did not tell her I had a family…but I don’t want her having it all.”
Alemi was arrested on 6 June, 2016. Officers searched her office and home and seized a number of items including two display cases containing a number of watches, a new will for the victim and bank cards belonging to the victim.
The new will differed substantially from the previous will. The new beneficiaries were Alemi and her two “Godchildren”. The new will was to be administered by a company owned by one of these Godchildren.
Upon her arrest, Alemi’s contract of employment with Cumbria NHS Trust was terminated.
Further investigation found Alemi had applied for lasting power of attorney in the victim’s name.
Police spoke to the victim who confirmed she had not given Alemi permission to change her will or apply for power of attorney. She also confirmed she did not know the two people Alemi had named as beneficiaries.
In her police interview, Alemi denied committing fraud or theft, telling officers all the items found at her home were there with the victim’s permission.
In her second interview, Alemi told officers she was suffering from trauma induced amnesia and could not recall what she said in the previous interview. She continued to deny having committed any offences.
Detective Constable Louise Carter said: “Alemi saw someone who was vulnerable and sought to take advantage of her to make a financial gain.
“Her actions are all the more abhorrent as she met the victim in her capacity as a medical professional and should have been helping her.
“Instead she sought to befriend the elderly woman and quickly made plans to commit theft and fraud.
“I’d like to thank the carers and other witnesses who came forward to raise concerns about their suspicions and I hope today’s sentencing shows how seriously such offences are taken by the courts.”
Detective Inspector Matt Scott said: "This was a particularly complex case and I would like to thank the officers who worked on it for their diligence and professionalism which has resulted in a significant sentence."