Kensington and Chelsea Council fraudster jailed for stealing £62,000 from Grenfell survivors

A Kensington and Chelsea Council employee who was responsible for administering cash to survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire has been jailed for five-and-a-half years after stealing more than £60,000 to finance her luxury lifestyle. Jenny McDonagh, 39, was sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on Friday 28 September after admitting fraud and theft of £62,062 meant for victims. McDonagh spent the money on items such as trips abroad, beauty treatments and expensive meals. 

McDonagh was hired as a finance worker by Kensington and Chelsea Council in October 2017. Shortly afterwards, she activated two pre-paid credit cards in the name of real survivors, without their permission, and found another three pre-loaded cards. Over a ten-month period, McDonagh topped up the cards with money 17 times.

McDonagh withdrew £39,945 from cash machines, often near her home in Abbey Wood in east London, such that she could deposit the cash into her personal account.

Colleagues told investigators that McDonagh “always had very vocal views of the Grenfell Tower fraudsters, often talking openly about how disgusted she was with these people and that what they were doing was awful.”

Another said: “Jenny would be very outspoken about the money [Kensington and Chelsea Council] were paying out to people. She would complain about the amounts of monies being paid. To be then taking money from them is appalling.”

Admittance of fraud

After she was arrested on 1 August, McDonagh continued to use another remaining credit card to spend more money. McDonagh also admitted fraud worth a total of £35,050.20 while working at Medway NHS Foundation Trust in 2016 after submitting four false invoices with her bank details on them.

Catherine Gould from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: “Jenny McDonagh was outspoken to colleagues about Grenfell Tower fraudsters while secretly and dishonestly siphoning money away from true victims. She abused the trust placed in her to take personal advantage of a national tragedy and the prison sentence handed down reflects the seriousness of her deliberate deception.”

The CPS has requested that Isleworth Crown Court considers a Proceeds of Crime Order against McDonagh. This would allow the organisation to recover any potential assets. If a Proceeds of Crime Order is granted then a Judge will decide the amount McDonagh must pay back. If she fails to do so then additional time in prison can be added on to her sentence.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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