Grenfell fraudster faked illness to try to avoid justice

Entering the dock each day in a wheelchair she did not need, Joyce Msokeri was bent on continuing her campaign of deceit in court.

Grenfell fraudster faked illness to try to avoid justice

Entering the dock each day in a wheelchair she did not need, Joyce Msokeri was bent on continuing her campaign of deceit in court.

The 47-year-old resorted to "feigned illness" to try to disrupt the progress of her trial at Southwark Crown Court, the prosecution alleged.

The lies were wrapped up in "her capacity to act and manipulate, her willingness to be dishonest, and her desire for money", it was claimed.

She was found guilty of three counts of fraud against the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC), the Hilton and charities respectively, and a further charge of possessing a false document.

A jury heard that Msokeri had received two psychiatric examinations and a medical check-up before proceedings began and was found fit to stand trial.

Despite this, she insisted on using a wheelchair - for which there was no medical need - and regularly claimed to feel unwell in an apparent effort to postpone hearings.

Msokeri initially delayed the start of the trial after claiming she was having trouble with her vision, but no symptoms were found.

The judge said during her arraignment: "I have seen reports from two consultant psychiatrists and I have heard a report of what the doctor who saw you today said.

"They all say, having had the opportunity to examine you and with a full knowledge of the history, there is no reason why you are not fit to stand trial."

She later claimed she was too cold to sit in the dock, had been struggling with asthma and required an inhaler and then refused to leave her prison cell on medical grounds.

On several days, the court case was forced to go ahead without her.

The professed poor health was said to be another thread in the web of deceit which had seen Msokeri attempt to cash in on the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

In his opening note, prosecutor David Jeremy QC wrote: "The lies told by Miss Msokeri were so flagrant and persistent that they could beg a question about her mental health.

"She has, in fact, been recently examined by two psychiatrists - one instructed on behalf of the prosecution and one on behalf of the defence.

"She is not suffering from any mental health condition. She sits at the back of this court in a wheelchair. There is in fact no medical reason for that; it is simply her choice to sit in a wheelchair.

"The explanations for her behaviour are not therefore psychiatric, they are much simpler. They lie in her capacity to act and manipulate, her willingness to be dishonest, and her desire for money."

In the final days of her trial, Msokeri was admitted to hospital for tests after it emerged she had not been taking medication for an underlying health problem.

She had claimed to medical staff she could not swallow, although doctors had seen no evidence of this, and said Msokeri would start coughing and spluttering as soon as the tablet touched her tongue and was nowhere near her throat.

She made claims to doctors that she had not drunk anything for three weeks, or that she was unable to pass urine, even though she had been observed by staff doing both and her blood tests were normal.

A medical expert described her as "malingering".

It was not the first time in the case that Msokeri's behaviour had seemed brazen.

She was arrested for fraud by false representation on July 25, around a month after the fire, when it emerged she had convinced a volunteer to lie on her behalf.

The Metropolitan Police released her on bail with conditions including that she would not enter the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, where the tower stood.

This was designed to stop her returning to the Hilton, where she had already blagged a free room by pretending to be a bereaved victim - but this was exactly where she went.

The defendant was re-arrested for breaching her bail on July 28, having initially been let back into the Hilton by unwitting staff.

Two arrests and the prospect of criminal charges were still not enough to stem the lies, however.

She coerced her former partner, a vulnerable man with a history of mental health issues, to pose as the husband she thought had died in the fire, the court heard.

A tale of his miraculous recovery quickly collapsed when the man contacted a friend and said what had happened.

Msokeri was arrested for the third and final time on September 4.

- PA

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