Police officer who forged father's Will gets jail term

By Lenore Rice

A police officer who forged his deceased father's Will in order to receive the entirety of his estate has been given an eight month prison sentence.

Darren Hart says he committed the forgery to ensure that his ex-wife would not receive anything from his father's £120,000 estate. He knew his father, Ronny, had not executed a Will and had assumed that under the rules of intestacy she would receive something. His father is said to have written a note to exclude Mr Darren's ex-wife from the estate but he died before it was witnessed or signed. Darren Hart then arranged for a friend, Peter Atkinson, to witness the document, as well as his new wife Alison, who was the named as the sole beneficiary in the note.

Under the rules of intestacy the estate should have been divided among Ronny's two sons or surviving relatives. Darren's brother Stephen is deceased, meaning half of the estate should have gone to his only daughter Cherelle Hart, aged 24. The court was told Darren was not aware that his niece would have been a beneficiary and that it was not his intention to deny her her inheritance.

The fraud was discovered when Mr Atkinson, who falsely witnessed the document, went to the police to confess. He was given a 5 month jail sentence suspended for a year for his part in the fraud.

Darren Hart, who spent the money on an elaborate hotel wedding, travelling the world, and for the rental of a £1,000-a-month house, was said by his solicitor to be "remorseful". He was jailed for eight months by Judge Peter Bowers, who spoke of the responsibility of police officers to uphold the law and be themselves "beyond reproach."

If you require legal advice in respect of writing a Will from a solicitor in Northern Ireland contact Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast or Bangor by calling 0800 840 9293.

To read information about contesting a Will click here.