"Truly deplorable and despicable"
A homeless man who had been hailed as a hero following the Manchester Arena attack but then admitted to stealing from the victims has been jailed.
Chris Parker, 33, pleaded guilty at Manchester crown court earlier this month. After claiming to have rushed to the rescue of those injured on May 22 2017, he admitted to two counts of theft and one count of fraud. The prosecution decided to drop five other counts.
Parker had been accused of stealing a purse belonging to one victim, Pauline Healey, who was seriously injured in the bombing and lost her 14-year-old granddaughter in the attack after an Ariana Grande concert. CCTV showed Parker going through Healey’s bag as her granddaughter lay dying. He also admitted to using Healey’s bank card at a Manchester branch of McDonald’s in the days following the attack.
Parker has also admitted to stealing a mobile phone from a teenage girl caught up in the attack last May. The victim cannot be named due to her age. Parker rejected phone calls from the victim’s phone as they attempted to find out if she was alive, as well as sent a text message from the stolen phone reading “Sorry I can’t talk right now”.
Now, he has been jailed for four years and three months, as The Mirror reports.
Speaking to the court, Mrs Healey said: “The actions of this man are truly deplorable and despicable and have taken my focus away from my health and supporting my family.
“I cannot understand how anyone could exploit an attack of this kind for their own gain during a scene of this destruction and tragedy.”
Sentencing Parker, Judge David Hernandez told him: “You were not the hero you pretended to be – you were just a common thief.
“I accept that you helped some people, however, there is force in the submission of the prosecution that these moments of compassion were brief.”
The judge added: “You represented yourself as a hero. Sadly 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.”
A fundraising effort for Parker was launched after he told the media that he had rushed to help the victims of the attack. More than £50,000 was raised but he never received the money.
Speaking to the Press Association following the Manchester Arena bombing, Parker had said: “It knocked me to the floor and then I got up and instead of running away, my gut instinct was to run back and try and help.”