Grenfell Tower Inquiry hears details of how vulnerable residents died alone

Allison Munroe QC represented the families of Vincent Chiejina and Joseph Daniels, who died in their Grenfell Tower flats on June 14, 2017.

20 July 2022

A schizophrenic resident and an elderly man with dementia were among those who died in their Grenfell Tower flats after receiving no help from authorities on the night of the fire, an inquiry has heard.

Vincent Chiejina, then 60, and Joseph Daniels, then 69, died in their living rooms as flames engulfed the building in the early hours of June 14, 2017.

They were vulnerable residents who would have needed help to evacuate, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry heard on Wednesday.

Allison Munroe QC represented the families of both residents at the hearing.

Tower block fire in London
Vincent Chiejina, 60, who died in the Grenfell Tower fire (Grenfell Tower Inquiry/PA)

She said that Mr Chiejina had lived in a mental health facility for 15 years owing to his schizophrenia, before moving into flat 144 on the 17th floor of the North Kensington tower in February 2001.

Mr Chiejina, who loved Star Trek and had an electronic engineering degree from Sheffield University, did not make any calls to emergency services.

Ms Munroe told the inquiry: “Vincent was a man who liked routine.

“He would expect certain things to happen at certain times.

“Vincent was found in his living room. He often waited in the living room for people to come round and to be collected when he had appointments.

“His family simply wonder, did Vincent remain sitting in his living room expecting someone to collect him and take him to safety?

“Does that explain why he made no phone calls to the emergency services or to them?

“They will never know the answer but it is a question which continues to haunt them.”

Tower block fire in London
Thousands of people took part in a silent walk near Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, west London, to mark the five-year anniversary (Dominic Lipsinki/PA)

Mr Chiejina’s family reported him missing at a police station on June 14, before spending five days searching hospitals for him.

They were informed of his death on June 19.

On the floor below, Sam Daniels, who grew up in Grenfell Tower, was forced to leave his father behind after he could not carry him down the stairs alone.

His father, known as Joe, moved from India to the UK in 1982, and moved in to flat 135 with his then-wife, Lucy Smith, in 1983.

Mr Daniels suffered with dementia and diabetes, and his son had moved back into the flat to care for him around 18 months before the fire.

The inquiry heard that a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) – which is recommended for disabled residents – had never been considered for Mr Daniels.

Sam Daniels had also requested adjustments to his father’s flat such as handrails, which he never received.

Recalling their ordeal on the night of the fire, Ms Munroe said: “Joe was frozen to the spot.

“He couldn’t move, and wouldn’t leave.

“In desperation, Sam tried to physically move his dad, but he couldn’t move him by himself.

“The only option left was to run for help to get someone to come and assist him.

“His father was standing next to his bedroom directly opposite the front door.

“That was the last image that Sam would ever have with his dad.”

Tower block fire in London
Smoke billowing from Grenfell Tower on the night of the tragedy (Victoria Jones/PA)

Firefighters did attempt to find Mr Daniels, but after aiding another resident on the 16th floor, believed their work was done and ceased searching for him.

His son said he has struggled with his mental health since the fire and has been receiving therapy via the NHS.

In a witness statement, he said: “I have difficulty getting out of bed in the morning and it can also take me a long time to get to sleep at night.”

His father has been remembered for his passion for singing, exercising, and studying the Bible.

The inquiry continues.

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