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Grenfell fraudster who claimed £33,000 intended for victims jailed for five years

Abolaji Onafuye used names of victims of the fire to cheat charity and council

Tuesday 18 December 2018 22:14 GMT
Abolaji Onafuye, 54, posed as a victim of the Grenfell Tower fire and has been convicted of a £33,000 fraud
Abolaji Onafuye, 54, posed as a victim of the Grenfell Tower fire and has been convicted of a £33,000 fraud (PA)

A fraudster who claimed insanity from fasting drove him to claim more than £30,000 in financial assistance intended for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire has been jailed for five years.

Abolaji Onafuye claimed in the immediate aftermath of the June 2017 tragedy that he lived at a flat on the eleventh floor of the tower and was the brother of one of the victims who died in the fire, Isleworth Crown Court heard.

He then claimed accommodation and financial assistance from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and from the Rugby Portobello Trust charity, worth around £33,000, before the fraud was discovered.

He was sentenced to five years’ in jail after being found guilty of two counts of fraud by false representation.

During the seven-day trial, the court heard that Onafuye stated during his police interview he only claimed to have been living in Grenfell as he was suffering from temporary insanity caused by not eating during Ramadan.

He later alleged that he had been volunteering after the disaster and was rehoused as a result of suffering trauma during that time.

Onafuye also said he had never claimed to live in Grenfell Tower and disputed the evidence given by staff from various organisations.

Judge Giles Curtis-Raleigh said on Tuesday Onafuye had shown no remorse for the scam and had even accused genuine victims of lying.

Jailing Onafuye for five years, he added: “The fire at Grenfell Tower on June 14, 2017, was a tragedy in which dozens of innocent lives were lost, families were ripped apart and communities devastated. It was a disaster which shocked the nation. Most people reacted with horror and dismay and feelings of deep sympathy and profound concern for the survivors.

“Your response was very different. You decided to use the situation to your personal advantage to enrich yourself dishonestly by plundering public funds designed to assist genuine victims of that disaster in their hour of need.”

He added: “You denounced the genuine victims, the genuine occupants of 84 Grenfell Tower whose statement had been presented in that interview as liars and you have continued lying. You have shown not a shred of remorse throughout these proceedings.”

Ben Holt, prosecuting, said Onafuye had planned the scam by spending time in the Grenfell area after the fire and getting to know the names of victims Zaynab Deen and her son Jeremiah.

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He added: “The defendant did spend time in the area of Grenfell Tower after the fire. At some point, he clearly came to know the names of two victims of the fire. He simply could not have plucked those names out of thin air.”

Speaking after the verdict, Detective Constable Carlos Araujo, who led the investigation, said: “Onafuye shamelessly took advantage of the support being offered to those who were directly affected by the Grenfell tragedy and he has continuously failed to own up to his deplorable actions. We will continue to investigate and prosecute anyone who is exploiting what happened at Grenfell and our thoughts remain with the real victims of this tragedy.”

Press Association contributed to this report

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