Grenfell Tower conman jailed for 21 months after claiming to have lost relatives in blaze

Caroline Mortimer, Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Anh Nhu Nguyen (left, dark shirt) meeting Prince Charles with the real Grenfell victims at the Westway Sports Centre in the aftermath of the disaster: PA

A fraudster who claimed his wife and son had died in the Grenfell Tower fire to claim £12,500 has been sentenced to 21 months in jail.

Anh Nhu Nguyen conned family liason officers into believing he was a victim, describing how he lost sight of his family in the smoke-filled stairwell, police said.

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.

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."

Nguyen's defence barrister, Keima Payton, said a report compiled by a psychologist found Nguyen had an "astonishingly low" IQ that placed him in the bottom 2.5 per cent of people in Britain.

The report also found he was suffering from "long-term, untreated post-traumatic stress disorder", depression and low empathy.

It concluded that part of why he had acted was to "feel part of a group, to be looked after, wanted and welcome", she said.

Some 71 people were killed in the blaze which swept through the west London block after cladding on the exterior caught fire.

Nguyen pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court in November to two counts of fraud by false representation and one count of making an untrue statement for the purpose of obtaining a passport.

Nguyen was born in Vietnam, has been in the UK since the 1980s, is a British citizen and has 17 aliases.

He has 28 previous convictions for 56 offences spanning more than 30 years, including theft, dishonesty offences, arson and grievous bodily harm.

Additional reporting by PA