A SERIAL conman who pretended his family died in the Grenfell Tower fire to get his hands on thousands of pounds meant for the victims was jailed for 21 months today.
Anh Nhu Nguyen was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court for cheating charities and the Kensington and Chelsea Council of about £11,270.
Mr Nguyen span lies to family liaison officers and journalists, describing how he and his family wrapped themselves in sheets and towels before he lost sight of them in the smoke-filled stairwell on the night of last year’s June 14 inferno.
He was later photographed shaking the hand of Charles Windsor when he visited a relief centre to show his support.
But the day after the fire, which killed 71 people, Mr Nguyen — who has a previous conviction for arson — was caught on CCTV at a housing charity nine miles away appearing “happy and lighthearted,” prosecutors said.
Southwark Crown Court Judge Philip Bartle told Mr Nguyen that he would serve half his sentence in jail.
Taking into consideration the seven months he has already spent behind bars, this could see Mr Nguyen released in mid-May — before the one-year anniversary of the fire.
The judge dismissed claims from a psychological report read by Mr Nguyen’s barrister Keima Payton, that part of his motivation was to “feel part of a group, to be looked after, wanted and welcome.”
Mr Bartle said: “You knew full well what you were doing, you knew that you were taking advantage of these genuine victims at this terrible time of this terrible tragedy.”
He added that the effect the deceit had on the local North Kensington community and Mr Nguyen’s previous criminal record were both “aggravating factors” in deciding his sentence.
One former tower resident, whose statement was read out in court, said: “The actions of these fraudsters have totally ripped the heart and faith out of the Grenfell Tower community and I personally have lost the little trust I had in the system.”
One man told the court that his father, who died in the fire, lived in one of the flats Mr Nguyen claimed to inhabit, which had caused him “extreme distress”.
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