A couple who falsely claimed nearly £48,000 that was meant for survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire have been jailed.
Judge Giles Curtis-Raleigh, sentencing at London’s Isleworth Crown Court, said Carmel Daly, 50, and Robert Kenneally, 52, had used the national tragedy of the devastating fire for their own advantage.
The couple claimed to have lived with Denis Murphy at his flat in Grenfell Tower, where he died.
He was among 72 people who died after the blaze which ripped through the west London tower block in June 2017.
Many, many people were in dire circumstances and few indeed sank as low as you did in this type of fraudJudge Giles Curtis-Raleigh
The prosecution said the couple, both of Warwick Lane, west London, did not know Mr Murphy.
A jury had taken two hours and nine minutes to find them each guilty of one count of fraud in claiming a total of £47,802 in accommodation, emergency payments and other services.
The fraud ran from June 14 2017 to August 23 2018.
The judge said it was a time of national “horror and dismay” and that “most normal people” had reacted to the devastating blaze with “a spontaneous outpouring of generosity and compassion”.
He told the couple: “You decided to use this situation for your own advantage and gain to enrich yourselves dishonestly by plundering public funds meant for genuine victims.”
Judge Curtis-Raleigh added: “Many, many people were in dire circumstances and few indeed sank as low as you did in this type of fraud.”
Daly, who was of previous good character, was sentenced to four years and three months’ imprisonment while Kenneally was jailed for four years and nine months.
They have added to our pain unnecessarily and made the process of dealing with our grief harderAnn Murphy, Denis Murphy's sister
Members of Mr Murphy’s grieving family still suffer from nightmares, panic attacks and anxiety, the court heard.
In her victim impact statement, Mr Murphy’s sister Ann Murphy said the impact the frauds have had on her family could not be “overstated”.
She said: “They have prevented us from getting mentally stronger from our unimaginable loss.
“They have added to our pain unnecessarily and made the process of dealing with our grief harder.”
Within days of the fire, the couple were put into hotel accommodation after claiming to be Grenfell Tower survivors, according to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
They had told council workers they had been living with Mr Murphy.
They also managed to secure a rent-free permanent flat from Kensington and Chelsea Council by September 2017, which they moved into the following month.
After the hearing Judith Reed, of the CPS, said the pair had “concocted a fictional story and defrauded the council out of thousands of pounds that should have gone to the true survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire”.
She condemned their actions as “truly despicable in the face of a community tragedy” adding “they will now have to face the consequences of their lies”.
Ms Reed said: “Daly gave several inconsistent accounts of the night of the fire – in one version she claimed to have escaped as burning debris fell over her; later saying she had disguised minor burns by spending a lot of money on ‘expensive make-up’.
“An analysis of CCTV footage showed that not once had the pair been seen entering or leaving the tower.”
Ms Reed also said that a relative of the couple stated that although he knew Daly and Kenneally had lived in the area since moving from Ireland in 2014, he was not aware of them ever living inside Grenfell Tower.
This relative noted that they had not reached out to him for help as he would have expected after the disaster.