Manchester Arena attack: Homeless 'hero' Chris Parker jailed for stealing from victims

'You were not the hero you pretended to be, you were just a common thief', says judge

Samuel Osborne
Tuesday 30 January 2018 14:43
Chris Parker has been jailed for four years and three months after admitted to stealing a purse from a woman and a mobile phone from a 14-year-old girl at the scene of the Manchester Arena bombing
Chris Parker has been jailed for four years and three months after admitted to stealing a purse from a woman and a mobile phone from a 14-year-old girl at the scene of the Manchester Arena bombing

A homeless man who was initially hailed as a "hero" for helping people injured in the Manchester Arena bombing has been jailed after he admitted to stealing from two of the victims.

Chris Parker had been in the train station next to the arena when a suicide attacker detonated a bomb in the foyer at the end of an Ariana Grande concert, killing 22 people and injuring more than 500.

He claimed to have helped some of those wounded in the blast, comforting a badly injured girl who had lost both her legs and cradling a woman with serious head and leg wounds who died in his arms.

The public raised more than £50,000 to help the rough sleeper, but CCTV recovered by police showed him wandering the foyer amid the dying and injured and stealing from victims.

The 33-year-old admitted at a hearing at Manchester Crown Court last month to stealing a purse from a woman and a mobile phone from a 14-year-old girl.

He also pleaded guilty to fraud for later using a bank card in the stolen purse at a restaurant. Parker was jailed for four years and three months on two counts of theft and one count of fraud.

Chris Parker was hailed a hero after claimed he helped victims of the Manchester attack and ​the public raised more than £50,000 to help the rough sleeper

Judge David Hernandez told Parker: "You were not the hero you pretended to be, you were just a common thief.

"It is hard to contemplate a more reprehensible set of circumstances."

Parker was caught on camera leaning over the body of injured survivor Pauline Healey to steal her purse as her 14-year-old granddaughter Sorrell Leczkowski lay dying nearby.

He also snatched the mobile phone of a teenager and within hours was using Ms Healey's bank cards at a local McDonald's.

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Prosecutors said the defendant provided "some limited assistance" but that he also took the opportunity to commit the thefts immediately after the atrocity.

He will not receive the money raised for him through the public appeal on GoFundMe. It will instead go back to the donors.

Following the sentencing, Superintendent Chris Hill, from Greater Manchester Police, said:

"No matter what personal circumstances you might find yourself in, to steal from injured and terrified innocent people is deplorable.

"Parker exploited these people when they were at their most vulnerable and needed the help of those around them.

"I cannot begin to imagine what they have been through and I want to thank them for their courage."

Ben Southam, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Christopher Parker entered Manchester Arena in the immediate aftermath of the explosion. It was a devastating and distressing scene, and while he did offer some comfort and assistance to a number of victims who had been injured by the bomb, the evidence showed he was also looking for opportunities to take advantage of the situation.

"The CPS demonstrated that Parker acted dishonestly by taking items from injured victims, and that he intended to keep those items for his own benefit.

"His actions added to the immense distress the victims and their families have suffered and our thoughts remain with them."

More follows

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