Times caption: Jenny McDonagh splashed out on expensive holidays KIRSTY O’CONNOR/PA
A piece in today’s Times:
A council manager who stole £62,000 meant for Grenfell survivors and defrauded the NHS of more than £35,000 was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in jail today.
The judge, Robyn Johnson, said it “beggars belief” that Jenny McDonagh, 39, a gambling addict, had spent money meant for survivors on expensive holidays, lingerie and hair appointments.
He said: “I have to sentence many cases that have come to be known as Grenfell frauds, your offending is unique in my experience.
“As the Finance Manager at the Grenfell Team with the Royal Borough Council of Kensington and Chelsea you knew exactly what these funds were for and the importance of them for the intended recipients, namely the victims of the fire.
“Bearing that in mind the scale of your dishonest in these frauds beggars belief. Members of the public, indeed the nation, were shocked by this dreadful event.
“The fact that you, a person who had been given the task of assisting in the aftermath, sought to enrich yourself is the more shocking in the light of outpouring of grief and sympathy that followed the disaster.”
McDonagh pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position while working at Medway NHS Foundation Trust from January to May 2016. McDonagh was charged with the offence when she appeared for sentencing yesterday for defrauding the Grenfell victims while working for Kensington and Chelsea council.
She showed little emotion in the dock as Edward Daffarn, a survivor of the fire that claimed 72 lives in June last year, said her actions were “beyond contempt”. He told Isleworth crown court: “It is a reopening of wounds that they are desperately trying to heal.”
He added: “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.”
Ben Holt, for the prosecution, said that when McDonagh worked for the NHS: “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.
“The expenditure is heavy and frequent, considerable sums are spent at high street stores, for example Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s.”
McDonagh was arrested in August this year at the offices of her new employer, the Victoria & Albert museum in London, over the Grenfell fraud. The court was told that McDonagh was investigated for defrauding the museum but was not charged after it was shown she did not steal any funds.
McDonagh, of Abbey Wood, southeast London, had admitted two charges 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 fund.
Neil Ross, in mitigation, said McDonagh apologised to her victims and added that she “will of course have a long time to think about her actions”.
We need more female finance managers.
You can subscribe to The Times here.
If everyone who read this gave us just £1.00 – or even better, £1.00 or more, monthly – we could change the world. Click here to make a difference. Thanks.