Business student appears in court accused of bogus Grenfell Tower victims' fund claims

A business student who allegedly pretended to be a resident of Grenfell Tower to secure free cash and accommodation earmarked for survivors has appeared in a British court.

Muhammad Gamoota, 31, said he lived on the 24th floor of the tower with his father to get his hands on money from a victims' fund, prosecutors claim.

He appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London charged with two counts of fraud by false representation between the night of the disaster on June 14 and July 29 last year.

During a hearing this afternoon, the bearded defendant, wearing a dark jacket, indicated he would plead not guilty to the offences.

It is alleged he lied to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC), which was overseeing the relief effort, to secure himself a hotel stay at the Holiday Inn, Kensington Forum.

He is accused of then making a false application for housing and financial assistance to the Grenfell Tower fire fund set up to aid those touched by the tragedy, acquiring £500 and attempting to get a further £5,000.

The defendant, of Westminster, London, was remanded in custody by chairwoman of the bench Jane Carr.

He will next appear at Southwark Crown Court on May 16 for a preliminary hearing.

The west London inferno left 71 dead and hundreds homeless on June 14.

A member of the public was confronted by security during the court hearing after taking a picture of the defendant in the dock.

The man, wearing a black tank top, was led outside the courtroom and ordered to delete the pictures from his phone.

He was spotted taking the snaps by the defendant's loved ones.

It is against the law to take photographs within a British court's precincts without authorisation.

The man was then brought before the magistrates and warned never to do it again.

"I'm very sorry," the man said, adding that he had not known the law.

- PA

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