A psychiatrist working for the NHS in Cumbria has been convicted of faking a will in a bid to inherit the elderly widow's £1.3m estate.

At Carlisle Crown Court, Dr Zholia Alemi - who was employed by the NHS Memory Matters dementia service in Workington - had denied three fraud allegations and two thefts.

But after a six day trial, the jury in the case declared her guilty of the three attempted fraud charges and one theft.

Jailing her for five years, Judge James Adkin told the defendant: "This was despicabe criminality, motivated by pure greed."

The court had earlier heard how Alemi, from Scaw Road, High Harrington, Workington, was employed as a locum psychiatrist but she abused her trusted role in an attempt to ensure she and her grandchildren would inherit most of 84-year-old Gillian Belham's estate - which included a home in Bridekirk near Cockermouth and a bungalow in Keswick.

Prosecutor Francis McEntee had outlined how the frauds came to light when police launched an investigation into a claim that Alemi had stolen 21 watches belonging to Mrs Belham, a former Bank of England clerk.

She first met the defendant in February, 2016, when Alemi was asked to assess her mental capacity.

Staff at Workington Community Hospital requested the assessment because they feared Mrs Belham was neglecting herself after the death of her husband Gerry the previous year.

The psychiatrist effectively took control of the pensioner's finances, the court heard.

Just four months after Alemi first met Mrs Belham, Alemi had redrafted her will so that she - and her grandchildren - became the the principal beneficiaries of her new will. Alemi was to inherit the Keswick bungalow and £300,000, while the doctor's grandchildren in the United states would get the proceeds from the sale of her home in Bridekirk.

A conservative estimate of the pensioner's wealthy, said Mr McEntee, was around 1.3m. "Had the defendant not been detected," said Mr McEntee, "she and her family would have inherited the greater part of that sum.

"Mrs Belham has no children or close family members to challenge the will, and the defendant knew that."

The barrister added: "You will see how the defendant swept into Gillian Belham's life in February, 2016, pretending to be her friend, exploiting this elderly lady's trusting nature in order to delve into her financial affairs, building up a picture of her financial worth, stealing the [bank] cards and documentation relating to bank accounts."

Alemi may have got away with her fraud had it not been for an investigation into the disappearance of 21 watches from the pensioner's home. The defendant was cleared of stealing them.

"It was an investigation into the comparatively trivial theft of a collection of watches that was to be the defendant's undoing," said Mr McEntee.

When police searched the doctor's office and her home as part of the stolen watches investigation, they found bank cards and financial documents in Mrs Belham's name.

On the defendant's laptop, they found evidence of how she set up a bogus email account in the pensioner's name, generating an email trail which seemed to support the claim that she had willingly left her fortune to the doctor.

Yet when she was interviewed about the new will, Mrs Belham became distressed, telling investigators that Zholia Alemi had offered to help her make a new will and had then "taken over" the process, leaving everything to herself. "I didn't want to give it all to her," said the pensioner, saying she wanted her relatives to get some of her estate.

"It was following the defendant's arrest for the alleged theft of watches and cash that the police discovered a body of financial documents belonging to Mrs Belham in the defendant's possession and seized the computer on which she had drafted several versions of Mrs Belham's revised will."

The prosecutor said Alemi exploited her role as a psychiatrist to get access to Mrs Belham's financial information.

She then tried to explain away what happened by attributing it to the confusion of an elderly woman.

Alemi claimed that she had known Gillian Belham for several years, but there was no evidence of this.

The psychiatrist also lied to police - about having assessed the pensioner as a patient; and about the identity of her son, claiming he was a business advisor. Dafydd Enoch, for Alemi, said the convictions would end her career.

"She will not do well in prison," he said.

Judge Adkin said the attempted frauds were a gross breach of trust for a doctor, telling Alemi: "You used your professional relationship as a foundation for fraud."

The defendant was convicted of fraudulent setting up power of attorney documents for Mrs Belham, forging her will, and stealing bank cards and financial papers from the pensioner.