A COUNCIL worker has been jailed for five-and-a-half years for fraud offences including stealing £62,000 intended for the Grenfell disaster victims.
Jenny McDonagh, 39, was sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on Friday after admitting fraud and theft of £62,062.
She used the money to fund a luxury lifestyle, including flights abroad, beauty treatments, expensive meals, clothes and days out.
All the while, the former Kensington and Chelsea council employee complained to colleagues about the money being paid out following the disaster, which claimed 72 lives.
McDonagh, of Willrose Crescent, Abbey Wood, SE2 pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by abuse of position, one count of theft by employee and one count of money laundering relating to the tragedy.
The day before her conviction, she was further charged with and pleaded guilty to one count of fraud by abuse of position relating to an earlier job with the NHS.
McDonagh, who began working for the council’s Grenfell Tower finance team in October 2017, stole five pre-paid credit cards intended for victims and had them topped up 17 times from the council’s Grenfell Tower funds.
She then used the cards to withdraw cash and make personal purchases to a total value of £61,231.
The cash withdrawals, totalling £39,945, were deposited into her own bank account.
Among her purchases was £534 on visits to a hair and beauty salon, £185 on a pair of Ralph Lauren glasses, £74.99 on food from Selfridges and £48 at Ann Summers.
She also booked flights to Paris, Reykjavk, Los Angeles and Dubai, with one trip listed as a two-week respite break for a genuine victim.
At work however she bemoaned the money being spent by the council following Grenfell.
A colleague told investigators: “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.”
The offences came to light when a survivor tried to claim a pre-paid card and it was discovered thousands of pounds had already been spent on it.
Even after she was arrested on August 1, McDonagh continued to use another remaining credit card to spend more money.
During their enquiries, police also discovered that McDonagh was being investigated by the NHS Counter Fraud Unit.
She had been employed via an agency to work in accounts at Medway NHS Foundation Trust in Kent.
In 2016, she obtained just over £35,000 by using trust funds to pay four invoices to a supplier that did not exist, with the money going into her own account.
Following McDonagh’s conviction, Detective Superintendent Matt Bonner of the Metropolitan Police said: “McDonagh is a serial fraudster with no compunction for who she targets.
“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.
“Likewise she took public money from the NHS, preventing it from being used for far more worthy reasons. Her actions are truly appalling.”
For the Grenfell fraud, McDonagh received four custodial sentences of up to four years, to be served concurrently.
Her 18-month sentence for the NHS fraud must be served consecutively.