Son who forged mother's will uncovered after spelling own brother's name wrong

Nicola Harley
Stewart Caygill stole money from his mother Theresa's bank account before her death - then made himself the main beneficiary of her estate after she died so he would get a greater share of her home. - PA

A son who forged his mother's will was caught when he spelled his own brother's name incorrectly.

Businessman Stewart Caygill stole money from his mother Theresa's bank account before her death, then made himself the main beneficiary of her estate after she died so he would get a greater share of her home.

Caygill, 53, who once charged his late mother, who died aged 84 in 2013, £4,000 for mowing the lawn at her home in Horden, near Peterlee, Co Durham, went to extraordinary lengths during two trials to avoid justice, but did not count on his brother, Philip, turning amateur detective to expose him.

Theresa Caygill, whose "cold-hearted" son Stewart Caygill spelled his brother's name wrong in a bungled attempt to forge his mother's will Credit: PA

His brother immediately realised the will was bogus because the signature looked nothing like his mother's, and his name featured an extra 'l' on the document.

Last night, Philip Caygill, a property and construction businessman, said: "My mum was PA at a big company and would never allow a letter to leave the office without the i's being dotted and the t's being crossed.

"There is no way on Earth she would have got the spelling of my name wrong. She was meticulous, a proper stickler for things being done in the right way."

Caygill was jailed for four years for forgery and using a false instrument.

Judge Deborah Sherwin told him: "I am left with the feeling I am unable to believe a word you say about anything, and you are scheming, devious, deceitful and opportunistic."

Caygill had produced fake text messages, said to have been sent by his brother, and disputed that he had a criminal record during his trial last month.

Stewart Caygill also disputed that he had a criminal record during his trial last month Credit: PA

But Philip found the co-defendant from the 1988 theft case, who he tracked down to Berkshire, and the jury was tech-savvy enough to disbelieve the texts.

Philip also produced personal letters from his mother to show her handwriting, and an expert also dismissed the signature on the fake will.

The 54-year-old said: "My mum told me he was stealing from her for years beforehand, but he threatened to stop cutting the grass and her seeing his daughter.

Theresa Caygill's supposed signature on the will was dismissed as fake by a judge Credit: PA

"At her age, she could not face all the trouble and told me not to do anything about it, she couldn't hack it. He took her china and jewellery, too.

"The fake will made no mention of the grandchildren, not to mention the various charities she supported. She loved her dogs and if there was a genuine will they would have come before anything else."

Mrs Caygill had been left half the house in her husband William's will, while her sons got a quarter each.

The forged document handed the grandmother's share to Caygill along with his own, and her jewellery to his wife, Nikola, who was questioned but freed without charge.

William Byrne, mitigating, said Caygill - a director of Peterlee Landscaping - said the forgery had been "a major moment of madness".

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