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Grenfell Tower fraudster who claimed to be squatting inside convicted

06 January 2020

A fraudster who claimed to be sleeping rough on the stairwell of Grenfell Tower and professed to helping people escape from the burning building has been convicted of fraud.

Alvin Thompson, 51, defrauded the royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea out of a total of £88,860.27 by pretending to be a squatter inside the tower. He said he had slept on the stairwells for some years, and used the communal doorway power points to charge his phone or make toast.

On Wednesday 27 November Thompson was convicted of two counts of fraud following a trial at Isleworth Crown Court.

The Grenfell Tower fire broke out in the early hours of 14 June, 2017 and resulted in the death of 72 people.

Adeniyi Ogunleye, from the CPS, said: “Alvin Thompson spun a web of lies and took advantage of a community tragedy to make a gain for himself.

“When council workers questioned his story, Thompson would become emotional about the trauma he had supposedly suffered or accuse them of being discriminatory towards him. However, the prosecution case was able to demonstrate that Thompson had never lived inside Grenfell Tower. In fact, an analysis of CCTV footage months ahead of the fire did not establish a single sighting of Thompson entering or leaving the tower.

“Thompson carried out his fraud for a year, diverting funds away from the true survivors of the fire and betraying the trust of everyone who gave him assistance. When someone is dishonest in this way it is only right that they are held to account by the justice system.”

Thompson approached council workers some six weeks after the fire asking for accommodation. He claimed he had been sleeping in a cemetery in Kensal Green or Kensal Rise all this time. He also presented a burn on his hand that he initially said had come about as a result of the fire.

Thompson was put up in four different hotels, moving each time at his own request, and costing the council £59,949 between 28 July 2017 and 5 April 2018. He was also given a £30-a-day food allowance at each hotel.

He spent 50 nights at the Park Plaza Hotel in Westminster, 32 nights at the Park Grand in Paddington and 125 nights at the Park Plaza County Hall in Waterloo before heading to the Radisson Blu Portman in Marylebone for a further 50 nights.

During this time he turned down a number of temporary tenancy properties but later accepted a permanent flat in Westbourne Park in April 2018, receiving a £2,400 package to buy any furniture he needed. The defendant then complained his new flat needed a makeover, and so it was deep-cleaned, re-painted and carpeted, costing the council a further £1,525. Thompson also requested a security camera, which was fitted for £570. The total cost of providing Thompson with the flat was £16,273.70.

Additional financial assistance for everyday items such as clothes, food and toiletries amounted to £12,637.57 and was also footed by the council.

Thompson was sentenced on Thursday 28 November, at Isleworth Crown Court.