A man and a woman have admitted claiming more than £125,000 in relief funding by posing as victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.
Elaine Douglas and Tommy Brooks were put up in hotels by Kensington and Chelsea council for almost a year before staff realised the flat they claimed to be living in at the time of the disaster did not exist.
The pair, both Jamaican nationals aged 51, also tried to take advantage of a scheme granting all tower residents leave to remain in the UK for at least five years.
A fraudster who claimed his father had died in the Grenfell Tower fire to receive emergency money and a free stay at a hotelhas been jailed.
Two days after the tragedy in June last year, Mohammad Gamoota, 31, told council officials that he had been living with his father on the 24th floor when the fire ripped through the building.
Am I the only person who wasn’t in #GrenfraudTower that fateful night?
— #Marcher (@MarcherLord1) July 19, 2018
The Tweet above made me think of an episode recounted in Robert Mason’s brilliant Chickenhawk, his memoir of being a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam war.
Not long after Resler and I talked of disappearing with a Huey, a ship from the Snakes, tail number 808, took off on a foggy morning to go out to Lima with C rations and supplies, and never arrived.
The pilots called once before crossing the pass to say that the visibility was almost zero, but they could make it. By 0900 I was involved in the search. By dusk they had not been found not even a clue.
Supply sergeants throughout the battalion were keeping their fingers crossed. This was a rare opportunity to balance the property books-once and for all.
Let me explain. In the army, specific amounts of military equipment were allocated to the company supply sections. Once or twice a year, the inspectors general, agents from the brass, came through to check that all property was in the supply depot or properly accounted for. If it wasn’t, mountains of paperwork had to be done, including explanations by the commander and the supply officer. Searches were made. That was the formal army system.
The informal army supply system worked around such rules. The supply officers simply traded excesses back and forth to cover their asses, and the IGs never knew. Unless, of course, they had once been supply officers. The informal system made the books look good and protected the supply people, but we still had no jungle boots or chest protectors. Certain things you had to get for yourself. I was able to trade a grunt supply sergeant some whiskey for a pair of jungle boots. The chest protectors, though, were still not available. There were only a handful of them in the battalion.
All supply people dreamed of a way to balance the books once and for all – without all that trading and shuffling. Flight 808 looked like the answer.
After two more days of searching, a Huey was found. It was the wreckage of a courier ship that had disappeared on its way to Pleiku a year before. The search was abandoned, and Flight 808 was declared lost.
Declaring the ship missing started paper gears working all aver the battalion. One of the questions the supply people loved to hear was ‘Did you have anything aboard the missing helicopter?’
‘Well, now that you mention it, I did have six entrenching tools on that ship. Plus some web belts – seven web belts, to be exact – three insulated food containers, four first-aid kits, twenty-four flashlights,’ and so on.
When all the reports were tallied, I was told by Captain Gillette, it came to a total of five tons of assorted army gear – about five times what we normally carried.
‘One hell of a helicopter, don’cha think?’ said Gillette.
‘Maybe that’s why it went down,’ Gary said. ‘Slightly over-loaded. By eight thousand pounds, I’d say.’
‘Yep. We’ll never see another like that one.’
Grenfell Tower seems to be serving a similar purpose to Flight 808, doesn’t it?