A consultant psychiatrist who is is accused of forging a will in a bid to inherit an elderly patient’s £1.3m estate, told police she collected Champagne as an investment.

Zholia Alemi, 55, repeatedly denied faking a will in the name of 84-year-old Bridekirk widow Gillian Belham during a series of police interviews, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

The doctor, of Scaw Road, High Harrington, denies three attempted frauds and two thefts.

The prosecution alleges she took control of Mrs Belham’s finances, tricking two of the pensioner’s neighbours into signing a fake will that left her most of Mrs Belham’s estate - including the pensioner’s house in Bridekirk and a bungalow in Keswick.

Alemi first met Mrs Belham in February, 2016, while she was with the NHS Memory Matters service in Workington, which asked her to assess the pensioner, says the prosecution. After the death of Mrs Belham’s husband, there was concern she was neglecting herself.

Four months later, the court heard, the widow’s will was redrafted, with Alemi and her grandchildren named as the chief beneficiaries.

On June 6, police raided Alemi’s office at the West Cumberland Hospital.

A search of it uncovered some of Mrs Belham’s bank cards, as well as financial papers relating to her accounts, said prosecutor Francis McEntee.

The jury heard a summary of the defendant’s police interviews. She said she had Asperger Syndrome - a kind of autism. She initially claimed her son, whose children were named in the will, was her investment advisor.

“Zholia Alemi admitted she had assets of about £380,000,” said Mr McEntee. “She said she collected Champagne as an investment.” She did not recall seeing Mrs Belham as a patient, claiming to be a family friend. The trial continues.