UK official jailed for stealing Grenfell fire cash

An undated handout picture released by Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in London on September 28, 2018, shows Jenny McDonagh at a Burger & Lobster restaurant. (AFP pic)

LONDON: A public official who stole more than £60,000 (67,600 euros, US$78,000) intended for the survivors of London’s deadly Grenfell tower disaster was on Friday jailed for five and a half years, police said.

Jenny McDonagh, 39, a finance worker with Kensington and Chelsea local authority, admitted spending the money on trips abroad, beauty treatments and restaurant meals.

“Her actions were truly appalling,” said Detective Superintendent Matt Bonner of the Metropolitan Police.

She began stealing shortly after joining the council in October 2017, several months after the June 14 inferno at the public housing bloc, which killed 71 people.

McDonagh used five pre-paid credit cards intended to help the survivors, who were left homeless and deeply traumatised in many cases.

She topped up the cards 17 times over the next ten months with council money, to a total of £62,062, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said in a statement.

She also admitted a separate fraud in 2016 at the state-run National Health Service, where she submitted four false invoices with her own account details on, worth £35,050.

“McDonagh is a serial fraudster with no compunction for who she targets,” Bonner said.

“She knew she was taking precious funds intended for those who survived the Grenfell Tower tragedy, people who have already been through the most traumatic experience imaginable without then being caught up in McDonagh’s deception.”