Couple stand trial accused of £47k housing fraud over claim they were living with friend at Grenfell Tower on night of tragedy

By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter

A couple who claimed they were living in Grenfell Tower with a friend on the night of the blaze failed to tell police they were concerned about him as they stood nearby, a court has heard.

Carmel Daly and Robert Kenneally later claimed they were friends of Denis Murphy, who died on the 14th floor during the fire.

They deny a charge of defrauding Kensington and Chelsea council of £47,802 to pay for accommodation, support and subsistence.

Daly, 50, and Kenneally, 52, both now of Warwick Lane, asked for help for re-housing at an emergency centre set up on the day of the fatal fire at Grenfell Tower in June 2017.

They said they were friends of Mr Murphy, who lived in flat 111 of Grenfell Tower and had moved in just before Christmas 2016.

Video from a police bodycam showed them near Treadgold House, a residential block near the burning tower, on the night of the fire.

They spoke to a policeman who asked them to move back inside the cordon.

Prosecutor Benjamin Holt said: “At no stage during the course of this were Miss Daly or Mr Kenneally saying ‘I have been living in Grenfell Tower and I am worried about our friend Denis Murphy’. Nothing like that at all.”

A jury heard on the first day of their trial at Isleworth Crown Court yesterday that there was a policy to provide assistance first and ask questions later.

Many Grenfell Tower residents did not have details of where they lived or even who they were as they had to evacuate hurriedly.

Detective Sergeant Paul Harris, who was involved in setting up police support to check everyone was accounted for, said Grenfell Tower residents did not have ID with them when they fled the blaze.

“People did not grab their wallets, they were running for their lives,” he said.

“Nobody anticipated that anybody would lie in such an unprecedented disaster.”

At first Daly and Kenneally said they were living in nearby Treadgold House, with David Fahey, who did live there. Treadgold House was evacuated on the night of the fire.

Mr Holt said Kensington and Chelsea council drew up a list of people who should be accommodated in the aftermath of the fire.

He said: “It does refer to lodgers. Had Miss Daly and Mr Kenneally been lodging with Mr Murphy they would have fallen within the housing policy. They would have been eligible for assistance.”

Miss Daly had told the authorities she had been out for the night and returned to the Tower when it was on fire, said Mr Holt.

He said council employee Claire Wise sent an email to her colleagues on June 17, three days after the disaster, detailing people who had stayed overnight in the assistance centre at the Westway leisure centre.

She mentioned Ms Daly and Mr Kenneally and wrote: “I understand that this is a homeless couple not affected by the fire but making use of the facilities. The team last night thought it was OK for them to stay.”

The couple were later moved to the Copthorne Tara Hotel in Kensington  – the same hotel as Rosemary Oyewole, who lived on the same floor as Mr Murphy.

She had known him for five years, said Mr Holt, and was not aware of anyone staying with him.

She remembered him on the night of the fire “in shock and covered in soot,” when he took refuge in her flat.

Three days after the fire, Sunday Express journalist James Fielding interviewed Ms Daly at the Westway Centre.

She pointed to a picture of Denis Murphy among images of missing people on the wall and explained she had phoned Mr Murphy and told him to get out but he said the door was “red hot”, Mr Holt explained.

Ms Daly told the journalist she lived on the 15th floor – above Mr Murphy.

The case continues.

Picture top: The burning tower in north Kensington

 

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