Sharife Elouahabi has been jailed after pleading guilty to fraud, after wrongly claiming around £103,000 meant for victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. He had claimed to have been affected by the disaster, despite himself, nor any family members, living in the tower block.
Elouhabi, a 38-year old from Kensington, West London, has been sentenced to six years in prison after making claims to Kensington and Chelsea council that he was living with his uncle in the tower block that caught fire in June 2017, which caused 72 deaths.
He had claimed to have been a member of the El-Wahabi family, who saw five members die in the fire, but in fact had no connection to them. One member of the family gave a statement in run-up to the trial.
“In committing this fraud the defendant has taken from the community, public funds and resources meant for genuine victims.
“He has added to the strain of the council, to police resources and on all the support services.
“We have had enough on our plate as it was.”
Elouhabi had claimed accommodation, travel costs and maintenance after saying he had “constant nightmares” about the distaster, and said that he had watched his uncle and cousins die in the blaze.
Once accused, he denied any wrongdoing, and members of the El-Wahabi family were forced to refute his claims that he was part of their family, who had witnessed the deaths of close relatives. This caused them “extreme distress” according to Damaris Lakin, senior crown prosecutor at the crown prosecution service.
Elouahabi’s legal team told the court he is “severely sorry” for his actions and is suffering from depression. He plead guilty just as his trial was due to begin at Isleworth Crown Court. Judge Robin Johnson said:
“The nation was shocked by this terrible event. In the aftermath of a tragedy, you sought to obtain a profit. There was significant planning.”
When investigating, police checked CCTV footage of the area, and could find no sign of him entering Grenfell Tower and could not place his mobile phone signal in the area at the time of the tragedy.