Fraudster jailed for six years for pretending to be Grenfell victim

Fraudster jailed for six years for pretending to be Grenfell victim

Friday, August 24, 2018

A fraudster who masqueraded as a former Grenfell Tower resident to dodge a jail sentence for burglary has been jailed for six years for his "repulsive" crimes.

Derrick Peters, 58, was put up in the Park Grand hotel in Paddington, west London, after claiming to have lost his friend and all his possessions in the blaze on June 14 last year.

He ran up a £40,000 bill while staying in the £192-a-night room, including more than £5,000 spent on food, drink and laundry.

Peters was arrested on August 10 after burgling a nearby flat, stealing jewellery and other items worth around £3,000.


Judge had no reason to doubt story

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea continued to pay for his room for two months while he was held on remand in Wandsworth prison.

He returned to the hotel having been handed a community order after repeating his Grenfell lies in mitigation to the judge sentencing him at Isleworth Crown Court on October 16.

The judge, who had no reason to doubt his story, said: "How on earth can one even begin to understand what it is like to lose a friend in a tragedy like Grenfell?"

Peters continued the pretence and was even offered a flat meant for genuine victims of the disaster that left 72 people dead.


Resident said Peters did not live with them

However, his story unravelled after Rebecca Ross, a Grenfell survivor whose father Steve Power perished in the fire, confirmed Peters had not lived with them and their three dogs as he had claimed.

Peters pleaded guilty to perverting the court of justice and two counts of fraud at Isleworth Crown Court and was sentenced to six years in jail on Friday. He was also re-sentenced for the original burglary charge.

Judge Robin Johnson told Peters he was sure he had been previously spared jail because of his "brazen lie" to the judge.

"It was designed to pull heart strings. It succeeded, just as the similar lies were providing you with hotel accommodation and money," he said.

"Your conduct from June last year was utterly disgraceful. You cheated and lied for your own ends, trading on others' misery. There can be little mercy in such a case."


Survivors 'sickened'

He is the sixth person to be sentenced for fraud relating to the Grenfell fire and received the longest prison term yet.

In a statement read in court, Edward Daffarn, a member of the Grenfell United survivors group, said he was left "sickened" by what Peters had done.

"It is upsetting beyond words to learn the tragedy of Grenfell Tower is being used by individuals so that they can exploit our misery for their own gain," he said.

"It is pouring salt on the wounds of the bereaved and ex-Tower residents to know that the deaths and trauma we have had to endure is seen simply as an opportunity for others to profit and exploit."