An NHS pharmacist who claimed £75,000 in hotel fees by claiming to be a victim of the Grenfell Tower fire was jailed for more than three years today (Thur).
Daniel Steventon, 37, lived in a swanky 4 star hotel for eight months after claiming he was made homeless by the devastating west London fire that left 72 dead in June 2017.
Today (Thur) a judge branded the dad-of-two “cynical and selfish” for claiming he had lived in a 14th floor flat whose occupant Denis Murphy had died in the blaze.
Steventon said Mr Murphy was a childhood friend and had let him sleep on the floor of his flat for £70 a week.
He was also blasted by the dad-of-one Irishman’s grieving relatives who said his crimes “sickened” them and “tainted” their grieving process.
Jailing him for three-and-a-half years, Judge Nicholas Wood said: “Denis Murphy from what I’ve read and heard was a quiet decent well liked and well loved man.
“He didn’t deserve to die in that fire and he didn’t deserve for you to take advantage of his death in such a cynical and selfish way.
“Nor did he deserve to have lies told about him by you after his death when he himself had no chance to respond.
“This has compounded the grief of his family and friends.”
He added that Steventon, who admitted one count of fraud by false representation, had a drug addiction which was “really at the root of this offending”.
Prosecutor Benjamin Holt read victim impact statements from the late devoted Chelsea FC fan’s relatives who attended Isleworth Crown Court today.
His sister Anne Murphy said: “Mr Steventon has left us all in a state of hurt and confusion since we found out about his lies.
She said her family felt “anger and bitterness” towards the fraudster and added: “The fraud has tainted the grieving process for my family.”
His son Peter Murphy said: “It sickens me that he has taken advantage of his death in such a way.
“How could someone in full knowledge of what has been going on in our family drop to such a level of crassness?”
Mr Holt said: “Mr Steventon represented that he was a resident of Flat 111 Grenfell Tower. Flat 111 was a one-bedroom flat.
“The true resident of that flat was Denis Murphy. He tragically died in the fire.
“As a result, he was placed in the Mercure Kensington Hotel in Cromwell Road. He
moved in on 16th August 2017.
“He remained resident in the hotel until a meeting with Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea fraud investigators on 19th April 2018.
“During this meeting, Mr Steventon maintained that he was resident at Flat 111. He said that he paid Mr Murphy £70 per week to stay there.
“He said that he slept on the floor.
“He worked in the pharmacy department of St Charles’ hospital, in the borough despite his admitted drug issues.
“When interviewed, Mr Steventon provided a prepared statement in which he said that
he was living in Flat 111 and had done since the summer of 2016.
“He said he had known Mr Murphy since childhood. He said that they had fallen out about a month before the fire; but he had left a bag of his belongings in Denis’ flat.”
Daniel Mansell, mitigating, said Mansell had two children aged eight and 13 with an ex-partner who described him as a “loving and caring” father.
He added he had worked in the NHS for 15 years but lost his job and relationship with his partner after he became addicted to drugs following to death of his brother.
Mr Mansell said: “What has happened here is he has made a catastrophic error of judgement and he now finds himself among the category of individuals who must be some of the most despised people in the country and he understands that.
“From cocaine and cannabis he moved on to GHB heroin and crystal meth.
“He then made the biggest mistake of his life. He was not living some life of luxury, he has told me that it was perhaps the darkest time of his life.
“It seems like a victimless crime if you don’t think about it very hard. A conviction for this type of offences is in a way a life sentence.”
Steventon, of Kilburn, north west London, had two of theft convictions from 2001 and one of affray in 2006.