Ex Tory leader avoids jail

A FORMER Ipswich Tory leader has today avoided jail after forging a man's will.Ex Ipswich Borough Council Conservative leader Stephen Barker deceived his workers into signing a will which increased the amount he would receive from George Turner's £300,000 estate from eight per cent to 72 per cent.

A FORMER Ipswich Tory leader has today avoided jail after forging a man's will.

Ex Ipswich Borough Council Conservative leader Stephen Barker deceived his workers into signing a will which increased the amount he would receive from George Turner's £300,000 estate from eight per cent to 72 per cent.

Ipswich Crown Court heard that Barker, 59, of The Green Ashbocking, near Ipswich visited Mr Turner at St Clements Hospital days before he died in Ipswich Hospital on October 29, 2004 and asked him to sign a new will which he had downloaded from a computer package.

It was only days before this that Mr Turner had made Barker his new power of attorney.

The will was supposed to be signed in the presence of two independent witnesses but instead Barker took the will away and had it signed later.

Stephen Dyble, prosecuting, said that after the 89-year-old signed the will Barker took it to Nicholas Cope and Ian Clarke whom he was manager of and asked them to sign the document.

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Mr Cope said he remembered signing “something” but had not realised what it was as “the majority of this document was obscured by another piece of paper”. Barker then asked Mr Clarke to sign the will.

Mr Dyble said: “He was not aware it was a will he had signed.”

Barker, who pleaded guilty to forgery maintained that he had acted on the wishes of his friend of 25 years, Mr Turner.

The court heard that at the time Mr Turner signed the new will he was in St Clements Hospital suffering “moderate dementia” and “fluctuating between lucidity and confusion”.

Mr Dyble said Barker and his family would not only have benefited from the will financially but would also inherit personal effects including some Giles prints.

He added: “After his death a wrangle developed over the legitimacy of the will and the family (of Mr Turner) challenged the will at great legal expense.”

Matthew McNiff mitigating said his client was of previous good character and had been motivated by the “wishes of a dear friend” rather than greed.

He added: “He acknowledges that the way he went about it was both wrong and stupid. When someone in Mr Barker's position has fallen from grace it is substantial.”

Judge David Goodin said: “If I could be sure that you had over bourn that will for a ailing man, friend or not, to feather your own nest to the detriment of others I would send you to prison for a significant period.”

However he said he could not be sure so he sentenced Barker to carry out the maximum of 240 hours unpaid work and ordered him to pay £1,988 legal costs.

Judge Goodin said any breach of the order would result in prison.