Anh Nhu Nguyen jailed: 'Despicable' conman who lied that his wife and son died in Grenfell fire handed 21 month sentence

Eleanor Rose
Jailed: Anh Nhu Nguyen: PA

A "despicable" conman who lied that his son and wife died in the disaster to claim £12,500 in aid has been jailed for 21 months.

Anh Nhu Nguyen, 53, pretended to be a survivor of the devastating inferno that killed at least 80 people, giving a vivid account on TV of losing sight of his family on the smoke-filled staircase as they fled.

He said he had lived on the 15th floor of the tower block for the last 20 years, claiming his wife and 12-year-old son died in the disaster on June 14 last year.

Nguyen started claiming money from a fund set up for victims and was put up in a Holiday Inn because he claimed to have lost his home, even meeting Prince Charles in the aftermath of the disaster.

The 53-year-old, of Beckenham, south-east London, showed no reaction as he was sentenced by Judge Philip Bartle QC at Southwark Crown Court on Friday.

The judge said: "The offences to which you have pleaded guilty are ones which you committed knowing full well what the consequences were. I do not accept that the acts were in some way an attempt to be part of a community and that you were in some way reaching out in order to be embraced by that community.

"I am sure from everything I have seen... that despite your low IQ you knew full well what you were doing. You knew that you were taking advantage of these genuine victims at this terrible time of this terrible tragedy."

Following the fire, Nguyen, who was really living in Beckenham, told Sky News in an interview that he had been making a cup of tea when the blaze started, and used wet towels to try to stop the smoke coming into his flat.

"The smoke was like fog, you couldn't see anything, it was very hot", he said. "I'm sad, I'm angry, I cry. It's terrible for everyone who lost for family that day."

Vietnam-born Nguyen has a string of dishonesty criminal convictions dating back to 1983 and has used 17 different aliases, the court heard.