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Wealthy NSW woman's estate went to cleaner

AAP logoAAP 25/08/2016 Andi Yu

It was not until their Aunt Edna died that her niece and nephew discovered they were not getting a NSW property each as she had always promised, but just $10,000.

Instead of the 1978 will which bequeathed everything to them, they discovered a version dated 1999 which left Edna Pearson's multi-million dollar estate, including four properties, to her cleaner Victoria Anne Adams.

Ms Adams, 45, is standing trial charged with conspiring with others to cheat and defraud the estate of Ms Pearson, who had dementia and died aged 82 in 2008.

"There's nothing more sensational than a story of wills containing millions and little old ladies and competing interests," defence barrister Julia Hickleton told the jury as the District Court trial began on Thursday.

Adams was not the "sun at the centre of a solar system of cheats" as the crown suggested, but merely a "pawn" in a conspiracy orchestrated by others, she said.

Ms Pearson never married or had any children.

Suzanne Rae Corney and Thomas Sidney Pearson testified their aunt had always been passionate about the family name and made it clear she wanted her wealth to remain in the family.

She researched the Pearson family tree and even travelled to England and Ireland to explore her heritage, they said.

Mr Pearson said his aunt had more than once voiced her concern about his stepchildren because they were no blood relations of hers and was relieved when he and his wife had a son together - the only offspring to continue the Pearson name.

A friend from Ms Pearson's Seventh Day Adventist church gave evidence Ms Pearson believed she was related to "some princess in England".

None of the five witnesses before the court on Thursday had any memory of Ms Pearson saying her estate would go to anyone other than Suzanne and Thomas.

She was a qualified accountant who was very particular, the court heard.

Witnesses only remembered Adams by her first name as the cleaner provided by a hospital charged with Ms Pearson's care before she died.

Ms Adams' alleged co-conspirators include her daughter Alex Johan, niece Louise Johan, as well as associates Antony Michael DeSousa and Lorna Elliot.

Crown prosecutor Trevor Bailey told the jury a 1999 will bequeathing everything to Adams was a fake created in 2006.

The jury trial continues before judge Robert Sutherland.

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