Council boss stole from Grenfell Tower survivor’s fund

Abbey Wood

A Kensington and Chelsea Council finance manager who funded her luxury lifestyle and gambling habit using funds set aside for Grenfell Tower survivors is facing jail.

Jenny McDonagh, 39, pilfered £62,000 from the victim fund using pre-paid debit cards issued to survivors of the tragedy.

McDonagh used the cash for trips to Dubai and Los Angeles, designer hairstyles and dined out at high-end restaurants, Westminster Magistrates court heard.

The fraudster withdrew £48,000 in cash and deposited £32,000 of it into her own account using the cards between October 2017 and August this year.

McDonagh also wagered £16,000 of the stolen cash in online gambling, the court heard.

The Grenfell Tower tragedy claimed the lives on 72 people June 14 last year.

Prosecutor Robert Simpson told the court that the haircuts and dinners were booked under her own name.

He described the fraud as ‘unsophisticated’ because she left a ‘clear paper trail.’

Mr Simpson added: ‘She is a serial fraudster who lives beyond her means and gambles.’

McDonagh continued the fraud two days after her initial arrest on 1 August, the court heard.

Mr Simpson said that McDonagh is currently ‘under investigation’ from previous employers for earlier frauds.

McDonagh worked for NHS Med way Trust in Kent between 2015 and 2016 and allegedly pilfered £35,000.

McDonagh boasts on her LinkedIn page that she is ‘creator and owner of the process for direct payments to displaced residents.’

She was re-arrested on 29 August and appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today (Thurs).

McDonagh, of Abbey Wood, admitted two counts of fraud by abuse of position, one count of theft by employee and one count of money laundering.

McDonagh, sporting a large green jacket, was emotionless as she admitted the charges.

Prosecutor Robert Simpson said: ‘Those survivors who did not have a bank account were given a topped-up card.

‘One victim was given a card when he had a bank account so he asked his social worker that wanted his payments direct into his bank account.

‘She continued keeping the topped-up card alive – topped-up to the tune in the subject of the charge.

‘She used it for frequent travel: she went to Reykjavik for New Year, trips to Dubai, LA, meals in expensive restaurants; luxuries for herself.

‘This was a tragedy of people and substantial and ongoing breach of trust in procuring fund money meant for Grenfell Tower survivors in her own account.’

The prosecutor opposed a bail application for McDonagh because the ‘worry is she gets another job and carries on defrauding them.’

But her lawyer, Robert Katz, said she has ‘complied with conditions of bail so far.’

Since her arrest, McDonagh has gained employment as a finance manager at a mental healthy charity, the court heard.

District Judge Emma Arbuthnot granted her bail on the condition that she resign immediately.

She will also have a tagged curfew and has surrendered her passport to police.

McDonagh will be sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court next month.