Grenfell fund fraudster's shopping spree with victims' cash

Jenny McDonagh Image copyright PA
Image caption Jenny McDonagh stole the money while working in finance for Kensington and Chelsea Council and the health service

A fraudster who stole tens of thousands of pounds from the NHS and a Grenfell Tower victim fund has been jailed for five-and-a-half years.

Jenny McDonagh stole cash while working in finance for the health service and Kensington and Chelsea council.

She holidayed in Dubai and Los Angeles and funded a casino trip using £62,000 meant for the fire's survivors.

McDonagh, 39, previously pleaded guilty to fraud, theft and concealing criminal property charges.

'Frivolous items'

Sentencing her at Isleworth Crown Court on Friday, Judge Robin Johnson told her: "You knew exactly what these funds were for and the importance of them for the residents.

"The scale of your dishonesty in this fraud beggars belief."

McDonagh, who stole the money over a 10-month period, spent £32,000 of it on gambling, racking up around £16,000 in losses.

Trips to Paris and Iceland were bought with pre-paid credit cards, as well as purchases in high street shops.

Prosecuting barrister Benjamin Holt said on Thursday that the money was spent on "frivolous items, for example £48 at Ann Summers".

What did McDonagh buy with her fraudulent credit cards?

Image copyright PA
Image caption After she was arrested on 1 August she continued to use another remaining credit card to spend more money

•£534 on various visits to a hair and beauty salon in Sidcup

•£199.69 on a booking for two at the Delaunay restaurant in central London

•£185 on a pair of Ralph Lauren glasses from Vision Express

•£113.63 at the Hippodrome casino in Leicester Square

•£109.91 at a Burger and Lobster restaurant

•£100 at The Bottle House Inn in Kent

•£99 on a green dress from Hobbs

•£74.99 on food from Selfridges

•£55 on shoes from ECCO

•£48 at an Anne Summers shop

•£26.20 on a taxi

•£19.20 on the Thames Clipper

•£8.90 at Cineworld

•A handbag from John Lewis

•Flights to Paris, Reykjavik, Los Angeles and Dubai - one occasion she listed a holiday as a two-week respite break for a genuine victim

•£333.60 loaded on to an Oyster card but not used

On Thursday, one of her victims Edward Daffarn, a survivor of the fire, told the court about the impact of the fraud on his community.

He said: "It is like pouring salt on wounds of bereaved residents."

McDonagh, from Abbey Wood, was hired by the west London council in October 2017 to assist with the distribution of money to survivors of the fire, which was meant to be spent by them on accommodation and other essential items.

She took money using pre-paid credit cards intended for five victims of the fire.

The card in Mr Daffarn's name was topped up 17 times and more than £50,000 passed through the account.

Image copyright CPS
Image caption The credit card in a victim's name was topped up 17 times and more than £50,000 passed through the account

After she was arrested on 1 August she continued to use another credit card to spend more money.

While working for the NHS between 2015 and 2016, McDonagh transferred £35,000 from the Medway NHS Foundation, based in Kent, to herself.

McDonagh is the seventh person to be jailed for fraud offences relating to the Grenfell disaster which claimed the lives of 72 people on 14 June last year.

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