'You were not the hero you pretended to be' - Homeless man who stole from victims of Manchester Arena bombing is jailed
PUBLISHED: 13:50 30 January 2018 | UPDATED: 14:26 30 January 2018
A homeless “common thief” who stole from victims of the Manchester Arena bombing has been jailed.
Chris Parker claimed to have helped some of those injured in the attack and was initially hailed a hero, with more than £50,000 being raised by the public to help the rough sleeper.
But CCTV recovered by police showed him wandering the foyer of the arena amid the dying and injured, stealing from victims.
The 33-year-old admitted at a hearing at Manchester Crown Court last month to stealing a purse and a mobile phone from two victims.
On Tuesday he was jailed at the same court for four years and three months for two counts of theft and one count of fraud.
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.”
Salman Abedi’s suicide bombing killed 22 people and left scores injured on May 22 last year.
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 Mrs Healey’s bank cards at a local McDonald’s.
Prosecutors said the defendant provided “some limited assistance” but that he also took the opportunity to commit the thefts immediately after the atrocity.
Parker, who lived in Norwich until the age of seven, was reunited with his estranged mother, who still lives in Norwich, after the terrorist attack. He will not receive the money raised for him through the public appeal on GoFundMe. It will instead go back to the donors.
Following sentencing, Supt 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.”