Gren­fell fraud­sters who sought to gain from tragedy

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - IS­ABEL DOBIN­SON

THE dev­as­ta­tion caused when a fire ripped through a 24-storey block of flats in North Kens­ing­ton, killing an es­ti­mated 71 peo­ple, con­tin­ues to be felt more than one year later.

For the fam­ily and friends of the Gren­fell Tower vic­tims - young fam­i­lies, cou­ples, school chil­dren, the el­derly and dis­abled - the de­struc­tive path of heart­break and grief which has been left will never dis­ap­pear.

Nei­ther will the sheer ter­ror felt and hor­ri­fy­ing scenes wit­nessed by first re­spon­ders and mem­bers of the pub­lic who risked their lives to save oth­ers and watched the huge block of flats crum­ble in front of their eyes.

As the sur­vivors, nearby res­i­dents, mem­bers of the pub­lic and char­i­ties united be­hind a cam­paign for jus­tice, some of the na­tion’s most de­spi­ca­ble crim­i­nals sought to gain profit from the hor­rific “hu­man catas­tro­phe”.

What fol­lows is a list of those fraud­sters, in­clud­ing a former coun­cil worker and a “par­a­sitic” cou­ple who have been charged or put be­hind bars fol­low­ing the Gren­fell Tower blaze.

Jenny McDon­agh

Last month the former Kens­ing­ton and Chelsea Coun­cil fi­nance min­is­ter ad­mit­ted to steal­ing more than £60,000 meant for Gren­fell Tower vic­tims.

The 39-year-old took the money meant for sur­vivors us­ing pre-paid credit cards, de­spite hav­ing no per­sonal con­nec­tion to the tragedy, which she used to fund trips to Dubai and Los An­ge­les, ex­pen­sive din­ners and on­line gam­bling.

She was charged with two counts of fraud by abuse of po­si­tion, one count of theft by an em­ployee and one count of money laun­der­ing.

McDon­agh who was de­scribed in court as a “se­rial fraud­ster” who “lived be­yond her means” has been bailed and a sen­tenc­ing date has yet to be set.

Der­rick Peters

Home­less Der­rick Peters, 58, lied about liv­ing in Gren­fell Tower to get a shorter sen­tence for bur­glary. He was put be­hind bars af­ter falsely telling a judge he had lost all his be­long­ings in the blaze.

His lies meant he put up in free four-star ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion worth £38,784, cour­tesy of Kens­ing­ton and Chelsea Coun­cil .

Now Peters, who pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud and per­vert­ing the course of jus­tice will spend the next six years in jail.

This in­cludes a three year and four month sen­tence for two counts of fraud by false rep­re­sen­ta­tion, 20 months for one count of per­vert­ing the course of jus­tice and 12 months af­ter be­ing re­sen­tenced for previous count of bur­glary - all to be be served con­sec­u­tively.

Tommy Brooks and Elaine Dou­glas

Tommy Brooks, 52, and Elaine Dou­glas, 51, were de­scribed as “par­a­sitic” af­ter they claimed to be vic­tims of the dev­as­tat­ing fire in or­der to freeload a com­bined £125,000 in fi­nan­cial support.

The duo claimed they had lived on the 19th floor of the build­ing but they had been stay­ing with friends the night of the tragedy. Dou­glas had claimed £67,125.35 and Brooks had re­ceived £58,396.89 in fi­nan­cial support af­ter the fire as well as free ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion by the time their fraud was dis­cov­ered by the au­thor­i­ties.

They were sen­tenced at the same court on July 13, with Dou­glas re­ceiv­ing three years im­pris­on­ment and Brooks re­ceiv­ing three years and three months.

Mo­hammed Gamoota

Gamoota pre­tended his dad died in the fire to get hun­dreds of pounds in cash and a free ho­tel stay, where he racked up a large room ser­vice bill.

The 31-year-old was sen­tenced to 18 months in prison af­ter plead­ing guilty to two fraud charges in June this year.

He claimed he had been liv­ing on the 24th floor of the tower with his dad, who he pre­tended had died in the dev­as­tat­ing fire.

In re­al­ity he was liv­ing with his mum in Croy­don and his dad was liv­ing abroad.

To make his fraud more con­vinc­ing, Gamoota re­searched a news­pa­per ar­ti­cle about one of the 71 real vic­tims of the fire, and used their name and de­tails - pre­tend­ing they were his dad - to make his claims for free ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion and cash sound more con­vinc­ing.

He also made In­ter­net searches us­ing the words “Gren­fell Tower Fraud”.

Gamoota was able to re­ceive £500 in cash, although he had ap­plied for £5,000 and he re­ceived £910 worth of free ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion over nine days, and a £354 room ser­vice bill. He was sen­tenced to three years and two month’s im­pris­on­ment at the court.

An­to­nio Gou­veia

An­to­nio Gou­veia fraud­u­lently claimed more than £50,000 af­ter pre­tend­ing to be a vic­tim of the Gren­fell Tower dis­as­ter.

The 33-year-old home­less man came for­ward days af­ter the dis­as­ter, claim­ing to have lived in Flat 42 on the sev­enth floor of the tower.

Gou­veia claimed nine months free ac­com­mo­da­tion at a Mar­ble Arch ho­tel, worth £155 a night, as well as £260 in emer­gency cash, a £249.99 Google Chrome­book lap­top.

His ho­tel stay alone was worth a to­tal of £53,456.76.

The cash and ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion were given to him af­ter he turned up at West­way Cen­tre, a hub for the emer­gency ef­forts at the time of the fire.

An­to­nio Gou­veia

Der­rick Peters

Elaine Dou­glas

Jenny McDon­agh

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