A council finance manager who stole £62,000 meant for Grenfell survivors today (thur) admitted also defrauding the NHS of more than £35,000.
Disgraced finance manager Jenny McDonagh, 39, who was branded ‘beyond contempt’ by one survivor, splashed out on expensive holidays, hair appointments, Marks & Spencers and Anne Summers lingerie.
Today she pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position while working at Medway NHS Foundation Trust from January to May 2016 before the fatal fire last June.
McDonagh was charged with the offence when she appeared for sentencing for defrauding Grenfell victims while working at Kensington and Chelsea Council.
She showed little emotion in the dock as survivor Edward Daffarn said her actions were “beyond contempt” before she was remanded in custody to be sentenced for both frauds tomorrow (fri).
He told Isleworth Crown Court: “It is a reopening of wounds that they are desperately trying to heal.
“The fact that this individual stole money that was meant to assist vulnerable members of our community to fund lavish holidays and a gambling habit is truly beyond contempt.
“One a personal level it disgusts and sickens me that a fraud against our community has been perpetrated by someone who was employed by the local authority.
“Instead of showing empathy to the victims of the fire this individual saw our predicament merely as a chance for personal financial profit.
“The actions of a few criminals paints our community in a negative light and deflects away from the real issues that we need to deal with.”
Today she admitted fraud by abuse of position while being employed as a Finance Officer at Medway NHS Foundation Trust betwen January and May 2016.
Prosecutor Ben Holt said: “She set up a bogus company called Tresdoor Ltd which bore her own bank details.
“She altered the details of a registered supplier of the NHS to Tresdoor.”
A Santander bank card with the same bank details as the company was found in her home.
It was found after she was arrested at her office at the V&A museum in London over the Grenfell fraud in August.
The court heard McDonagh, who has “destroyed her marriage”, was investigated for defrauding the museum but was not charged after it was shown she did not steal any funds.
McDonagh, of Abbey Wood, south east London, had admitted two counts of fraud by abuse of position, one of theft by employee and one of converting criminal property while she was a finance manager for the Grenfell survivors’ fund.
Mr Holt said: “The defendant was employed by the council at a time of crisis. She was specifically hired to deal with an on-going delicate and sensitive situation.
“Employees were working seven-days per week to get the work done. The prosecution simply say she took advantage of that.
“The offences were only stopped by the suspicions of the council and the police’s involvement. Indeed, even then, the defendant continued to offend by withdrawing funds from one of the accounts.
“The expenditure is heavy and frequent, considerable sums are spent at high street stores, for example Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s.
“The money is spent on days out – evidence by trips on the Thames Clipper and regularly visits to restaurants.
“The money is spent on frivolous items; for example, £48.00 spend at Ann Summers on May 31st. These are not everyday essentials – far from it.”
Survivors of the fire, which claimed 72 lives last June, could opt for cash payments into their bank accounts or pre-paid cash cards which could be used to spend the money.
In total she took about £62,000 from pre-paid cash cards meant for Fadumo Ahmed, Sacha Salaabi, Christos Fairburn, Marlyn (corr) Lopez and Edward Daffarn.
McDonagh was arrested in August and quizzed about the crimes – but continued to use the cash cards after her release.
Neil Ross, mitigating, said McDonagh apologised to her victims and added: “She found herself so lost that this frivolous spending caused by her serious offending was her escape.
“She has destroyed her marriage her husband has now moved out of the home they shared.
“Because he’s a decent man he’s come here today devastated by what’s happened.
“She’s destroyed her own future. In effect has brought this down and all of this down on herself.
“She is, I would say, a pathetic woman now and in the original meaning of that word.
“She is now back on anti-depressants, she was on them before, she’s trying to seek counselling, contacting her GP and will of course have a long time to think about her actions to come.”
Judge Robyn Johnson remanded her in custody to be sentenced for all charges at the court tomorrow (fri).