Grenfell Tower: Kensington and Chelsea Council worker admits fraud

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image copyrightPA
image captionJenny McDonagh was ordered to surrender her passport and will be sentenced at a later date

A council worker has admitted defrauding around £60,000 from the Grenfell Tower victim fund.

Jenny McDonagh, 39, took cash meant for survivors of the tragedy and victims' grieving family members using pre-paid cards.

The Kensington and Chelsea Council finance manager spent the funds on trips to Dubai and Los Angeles, expensive dinners and online gambling.

McDonagh, described as a "serial fraudster", admitted fraud and theft.

She obtained the money "while being neither a survivor or bereaved family member", Scotland Yard said.

After the fire, McDonagh withdrew £62,000 over 10 months, Westminster Magistrates' Court heard.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionThe tower block fire in June 2017 killed 72 people

Prosecutor Robert Simpson described her as a "serial fraudster" who "lives beyond her means and gambles".

He said she used the stolen funds for a "trip to Dubai, Los Angeles, meals in expensive restaurants, hair appointments and personal luxuries for herself".

He added: "She spent quite a lot of money on online gambling. She spent £32,000, of which £16,000 was winnings and lost roughly £16,000 in online gambling."

McDonagh's marriage has since broken down, the court heard.

image copyrightPA
image captionJenny McDonagh is one of several people to have been convicted of fraud offences relating to funds meant for Grenfell survivors

McDonagh, of Abbey Wood, south-east London, pleaded guilty to two offences of fraud, one of theft and another of concealing criminal property.

She was released on conditional bail with an electronic tag and will be sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court at a date to be set.

Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot said "custody is the obvious place to go" and ordered a pre-sentence report.

'Unforgivable fraud'

McDonagh was also ordered to quit her current job as finance officer at a mental health charity and inform the police before taking on any further work.

Following her conviction a Kensington and Chelsea Council spokesman said the authority was "shocked" by the fraud and found McDonagh's actions "unforgivable".

"We take fraud very seriously and we have always taken action to root out Grenfell fraud wherever it takes place.

"On this occasion it was one of our own members of staff who managed to defraud the council by getting past our own systems and processes. This is both shocking and unforgivable.

"We discovered the fraud and took action straight away, including strengthening our internal processes.

"We apologise to the survivors and families for any distress this may cause."

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