Mother loses son’s house in row over forged will

The Court of Session in Edinburgh
The Court of Session in Edinburgh
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A WOMAN who forged her son’s will in a bid to inherit his house has lost her case after a judge ruled the property should go to her grandson instead.

Maureen Nicol, 60, swore that former champion bodybuilder Steven Nicol, 38, had signed the home over to her in a will some years before he died in a motorway accident.

However, his former partner, Sharon McGeever, insisted she knew nothing of any will and that the house in Broxburn, West Lothian, ought to pass to their daughter, Sophie, now 16.

After hearing evidence from a handwriting expert, Judge John ­Beckett, QC, told the Court of Session in Edinburgh he was ­satisfied Mr Nicol had not signed the will.

He added: “I have little difficulty in being satisfied that it is more likely than not that it was [his mother] who wrote the ­signatures… I am persuaded that the will is a forgery.”

Mr Nicol ran a personal training and nutrition business in ­Edinburgh at the time of his death in 2008. He was returning to Scotland on a motorcycle he had just bought when it crashed into the central reservation on the M6 in Cheshire.

He had won the Mansfield Show bodybuilding contest in 2004, and was trusted for his advice by other bodybuilders including the 2006 Mr Universe, Steph Sinton.

The court heard Mr Nicol and Ms McGeever, of South Queensferry, lived together for many years until they separated in 2005.

The will, which had been ­submitted by Ms Nicol, was dated May 1995.

Ms McGeever said Mr Nicol bought the £42,500 house in New Holygate, Broxburn, in 1994, when considering becoming involved in the property business but let his mother stay in it.

She added that she was not aware he had ever made a will. They were close, and she would have known, and would have been very surprised if he had chosen to leave an asset to someone other than the child they were planning to have at that time.

Ms Nicol, who represented herself in court and remained in the house pending the outcome of the case, said her son had bought the property for her.

It was understood between them that she would pay the mortgage and the terms of the will “reflected his genuine intention that he would leave the house to her”, she said.

Judge Beckett said: “She made a number of derogatory remarks about the character and motives of [Ms McGeever].

“She does not like her to the extent that she said she might assault her in ­certain circumstances.”

A handwriting expert, John McCrae, said he was 99.99 per cent sure that signatures on the will were not genuine, and that it was “highly probable” they had been written by Ms Nicol herself.

Judge Beckett also noted spelling errors in the will, such as “beqeath” instead of “bequeath”, and that one of its alleged witnesses had not been called by Ms Nicol to give evidence but had produced an affidavit.

The judge said he did not accept Ms Nicol’s evidence, adding: “While she was very passionate in giving her views about what she saw as her moral entitlement to ownership of the house, she exhibited less conviction when denying that she had been involved in forging the will.”