Grenfell fraud accused 'filled hotel room with donated clothes'

A woman fraudulently posing as a Grenfell Tower survivor filled a hotel room "to bursting" with donations meant for real victims, a court has heard.

Joyce Msokeri "feigned trauma convincingly" in the wake of the deadly inferno, telling authorities she had lost her husband despite being single and living miles away, prosecutors allege.

The 47-year-old divorcee is charged with fraudulently claiming cash intended to support those left destitute by the tragedy, as well as a hotel room at the Hilton, food and clothing.

On the day after the fire, June 15 2017, the defendant pretended to be her sister and reported herself missing to police, her trial heard.

She then visited the heart of the relief effort at the Westway Centre, where she allegedly claimed to have survived the fire which left 71 dead.

But just hours earlier she had been on the phone to Sky TV complaining about her service, the court was told.

Prosecutor David Jeremy QC told jurors at the start of her trial at Southwark Crown Court: "Miss Msokeri was able to carry out this deceit because she was a very good actress and I dare say she still is a very good actress.

"She feigned trauma convincingly. She was 'good' with people.

"She was able to relate to them so that they trusted her and she could manipulate them."

At the time of the fire, he said, "Miss Msokeri was miles away in her home in Sutton".

Money, a Hilton hotel room and a free taxi service was provided to her in the days following the disaster, along with a dedicated social worker and personal police family liaison officers.

The prosecutor said: "She was allowed access to the clothes and other goods that had been provided by well-wishers and businesses; in fact she helped herself to so many of the clothes - many of them new that were offered to the victims - that her room at the Hilton became full to bursting, she acquired much more than she would ever need herself and she had to keep a pile of suitcases full of more stuff in the Hilton concierge's room.

"She took the opportunity to grab as much as she could."

Ms Msokeri of Ambleside Gardens, Sutton, south London, had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on Tuesday to three counts of fraud against the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC), charities and the Hilton hotel respectively, and one count of possessing a false document.

The defendant had first visited the Westway Centre shortly before 4pm on June 15, aware that the huge outpouring of support there was "ripe for exploitation", Mr Jeremy said.

He told the court: "She appeared disorientated and badly traumatised and was treated as such."

Phone records from a mobile found in her possession showed she also rang the Metropolitan Police's missing person hotline on June 15 posing as her sister Gloria, the court heard.

She reported that "Joy" was missing in the fire as part of a "calculated" plan to profit from the tragedy, Mr Jeremy said.

It is alleged she also attempted to cash in on her fictitious husband's death by convincing a volunteer to lie to police and say she knew the couple before the fire.

The volunteer eventually admitted her dishonesty and Ms Msokeri was arrested on July 25, but then attempted to continue the con, coercing a vulnerable man into pretending he was her husband, it was heard.

She was arrested a total of three times after twice breaching bail conditions, the final time on September 4.

On Wednesday she appeared in court while sitting in a wheelchair.

The trial continues.

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