Conman lied about being a Grenfell fire survivor because “fasting made him insane”

Abolaji Onafuye

A conman who pretended to be a Grenfell Tower survivor so he could defraud the council of £33,000 has been jailed for five years.

Abolaji Onafuye, 54, said he was “driven to insanity” by fasting in Ramadan which made him lie about living on the 11th floor of the tower block.

He also said he was related to Zainab Deen, who died in the fire with her son Jeremiah, a court heard earlier this week.

Onafuye claimed for accommodation and financial assistance worth £33,000 from Kensington and Chelsea council and the charity Rugby Portobello Trust.

This included a stay at the £190-a-night Grosvenor Hotel from June to October 2017, and the cost of temporary accommodation at Gorleston Street, the court heard.

Onafuye denied two counts of fraud by false representation but was found guilty at Isleworth Crown Court on Tuesday 18 December.

Judge Giles Curtis-Raleigh said Onafuye had shown no remorse for the fraud and had even accused actual victims of lying.

Zainab Deen and her son Ishmael were died in Grenfell Tower.

Jailing Onafuye for five years, Judge Curtis-Raleigh said: “The fire at Grenfell Tower on June 14, 2017, was a tragedy in which dozens of innocent lives were lost, families were ripped apart and communities devastated.

“It was a disaster which shocked the nation. Most people reacted with horror and dismay and feelings of deep sympathy and profound concern for the survivors.

“Your response was very different. You decided to use the situation to your personal advantage to enrich yourself dishonestly by plundering public funds designed to assist genuine victims of that disaster in their hour of need.”

Judge Curtis-Raleigh stated that even after his arrest in June this year, Onafuye carried on lying, first by accusing residents and victims of lying, then claiming at trial he had been suffering from temporary insanity caused by fasting in Ramadan.

He added: “You denounced the genuine victims, the genuine occupants of 84 Grenfell Tower whose statement had been presented in that interview as liars and you have continued lying.

“You have shown not a shred of remorse throughout these proceedings.

”Prosecutor Ben Holt, said Onafuye  had put the planned the entire lie by spending time around the Grenfell area after the blaze and getting to know the names of victims Zainab and her son Jeremiah.

He said: “The defendant did spend time in the area of Grenfell Tower after the fire. At some point, he clearly came to know the names of two victims of the fire.

“He simply could not have plucked those names out of thin air.”

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