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Grenfell fire ‘widow’ guilty of fraud

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Joyce Msokeri was convicted of three counts of fraud and a charge of possessing a false document

A woman who said she lost her home and husband in the Grenfell Tower fire has been found guilty of fraud.

Joyce Msokeri, 47, filled a room at Kensington’s Hilton hotel with donations after saying she was a grief-stricken victim of the disaster.

Southwark Crown Court heard data showed the 47-year-old’s phone had never been used near the Grenfell site.

Msokeri was convicted of three counts of fraud and a charge of possessing a false document.

As well as claiming goods, accommodation and cash handouts, worth a total of £19,000, Msokeri concocted an elaborate ploy to claim insurance on her fictitious partner’s death, the court heard.

Seventy-one people died after fire broke out in Grenfell Tower in June 2017.

When her story began to unravel, she told investigators she had found out her husband had survived and had been living in a cave in Margate, Kent, where he was fed by tourists.

Filled 10 suitcases

In his closing speech, prosecutor David Jeremy QC said: “What the evidence demonstrates is that she committed these crimes through greed and she got away with it for a certain amount of time through her skill at manipulation.”

Msokeri created three different personas for her non-existent husband to try to claim compensation, eventually persuading a man with a history of mental health problems to pose as her spouse so she could claim he had miraculously been found weeks after the fire.

Mr Jeremy said Msokeri wanted to “double her money” and continued to commit fraud until early September.

The court heard she filled 10 suitcases with new goods taken from the store set up to help survivors and applied for a number of phones and laptops.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Seventy-one people died after fire broke out in Grenfell Tower in June 2017

Mr Jeremy said: “You would have thought that by July she would have called it a day and stopped, but she wanted to double her money with her claim about her husband.

“She wanted a bigger flat than would have been given to a single person.”

Msokeri was not in court to hear the jury’s verdicts as she remains in hospital after being admitted on Monday.

Judge Michael Grieve QC thanked the jury for their “good humour” throughout the trial in the face of what he said were Msokeri’s delaying tactics, including regularly feigning illness and claiming to be disabled.

Two relatives of one of the victims of the fire, who Msokeri at one point tried to claim was her husband, were in the public gallery to hear the verdicts read out.

Msokeri will be sentenced on 6 April.

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Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-43415021

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