Grenfell Tower fire: Man jailed for £88,000 fraud

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image copyrightMet Police
image captionAbdelkarim Rekaya claimed he had been sleeping rough in the tower block when a fire ripped through the building in June 2017

A man who committed a fraud of nearly £90,000 by pretending to be a victim of the Grenfell Tower fire has been jailed for four and a half years.

Abdelkarim Rekaya, 28, spent 209 nights in a four-star hotel, before being provided with a flat in Chelsea.

At Isleworth Crown Court, the Tunisian national listened to his sentence through an Arabic interpreter.

Judge Giles Curtis-Raleigh told him: "You chose to exploit a national tragedy to improve your position."

Prosecutor Catherine Farrelly told the court that Rekaya had claimed to be sleeping rough in the tower on the night of the blaze.

He had refused to answer specific questions about the night of the fire, claiming he did not want to relive such a traumatic event.

Ms Farrelly said that during his months pretending to be a Grenfell victim, Rekaya at one stage requested a transaction history of all his prepaid cards "to check if his Netflix subscription was being paid for".

Despite concerns raised by a housing officer after a meeting with Rekaya in October last year, it was decided that his accommodation and allowances should continue until the fraud investigation had concluded.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionThe fire killed 72 people

He was arrested in June, by which time his hotel costs alone came to more than £60,000.

Rekaya, who came to the UK in 2008, pleaded guilty in September to fraud by false representation and obtaining leave to remain by deception.

Thirteen people have now been convicted in separate false Grenfell Tower victim cases, involving a total of more than £630,000.

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