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Woman jailed for stealing thousands of pounds from Grenfell fire victims fund

Jenny McDonagh, a former finance manager for Kensington and Chelsea Council, after withdrawing cash from an ATM at Charing Cross station to put back into her personal account as a way of laundering money. Photo credit: CPS/PA Wire
Jenny McDonagh, a former finance manager for Kensington and Chelsea Council, after withdrawing cash from an ATM at Charing Cross station to put back into her personal account as a way of laundering money. Photo credit: CPS/PA Wire

A fraudster who went on a spending spree using money stolen from a Grenfell Tower victim fund and the NHS has been jailed for five and a half years.

Photos of former finance manager at Kensington and Chelsea Council Jenny McDonagh, 39, captured her lavish lifestyle of dining in high-end restaurants, buying expensive clothes and heading on nights out using stolen money.

She stole £62,000 that was meant for victims of the fire and a further £35,000 while previously working for the NHS.

Selfies of her posing in an expensive dress from Hobbs and boarding a Thames Clipper boat heading on a night out, as well as pictures of her in restaurant Burger and Lobster, were released after her trial.

She also gambled £32,000 of the Grenfell money, losing £16,000.

McDonagh, from Abbey Wood, south-east London, also paid for trips to Dubai, Los Angeles, Iceland and Paris using money that was meant to pay for accommodation and other essentials needed by those who lost their homes in the Grenfell Tower fire last year.

Speaking at her sentencing at Isleworth Crown Court on Friday, Judge Robin Johnson said: "You knew exactly what these funds were for and the importance of them for the residents.

"The scale of your dishonesty in this fraud beggars belief.

"I do not know your current financial position but I very much hope the funds can be recovered from you."

McDonagh used her job with the council to get hold of pre-paid credit cards that should have been given to survivors of the fire.

One of those cards, which was in the name of the vice chairman of survivor campaign group Grenfell United, Edward Daffarn, was topped up 17 times and more than £50,000 passed through the account.

The judge added: "It must have been particularly abhorrent for Mr Daffarn to find out his name had been used by you in order to achieve your goal."

McDonagh stole the £35,000 from the NHS while working for the Kent-based Midway NHS Foundation, using what prosecutor Ben Holt described as a "bogus company" to transfer herself funds.

Detective Superintendent Matt Bonner said in a statement after the trial: "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."

The Grenfell Tower fire killed 72 people on June 14 last year.