Woman who lied about surviving Grenfell Tower fire jailed for fraud

A fraudster who posed as Grenfell Tower survivor in a bid to claim hundreds of thousands of pounds has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Joyce Msokeri, 47, claimed she had escaped from the west London fire last year, where her husband and sister-in-law had perished.

In fact she was single and living miles away.

She filled a room at a Hilton hotel with donations from well-wishers, concocting an elaborate ploy to claim insurance on her fictitious partner's death.

Msokeri claimed around £19,000 in cash donations, goods including electronics, handbags and dresses, and hotel costs.

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But prosecutor David Jeremy QC said she would have had access to funds totalling more than £200,000 had she not been caught.

When her scheme faltered, she preyed on a vulnerable man to play her husband, telling investigators she found he had been living in a cave in Margate, Kent, where he was fed by tourists, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

Msokeri was found guilty of fraud offences by a jury after a trial and sentenced to four-and-a-half years imprisonment at the Old Bailey on Friday.

Sat in a wheelchair, she appeared in court by video-link wearing glasses, a black hat and a pink sweater, speaking only to confirm her name.

Judge Michael Grieve QC said: "These are callous and contemptible, indeed disgusting, offences for which only a custodial sentence can be justified, and one of some length."

Emergency services and media at the scene of the fire (Steve Paston/PA)
Emergency services and media at the scene of the fire (Steve Paston/PA)

He said she had "immediately seized" on "one of the most horrific disasters to befall London in recent times".

The judge added: "Your greed in taking advantage of the situation you had created was insatiable."

The court heard Msokeri made claims to volunteers at the Westway Centre set up to help survivors after presenting there the day after the fire on the afternoon of June 15.

Her story was called into question when she was unable to give the number of her flat in the tower, despite claiming to have lived there for five months before the fire.

Mr Jeremy told the jury: "What the evidence demonstrates is that she committed these crimes through greed and she got away with it for a certain amount of time through her skill at manipulation."

Msokeri, of Ambleside Gardens, Sutton, south London, was found guilty of three counts of fraud against the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC), the Hilton and charities plus a further charge of possessing a false document.