Norwich Homeless 'Hero' Jailed

30 January 2018, 15:21

Chris Parker

A homeless man - originally from Norwich - 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. 

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

Judge Hernandez said: "You stole from people who were seriously injured at a time when others were either dead or dying.

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

He told Parker: "The true spirit of Manchester was displayed by the actions of ordinary citizens of Manchester as well as the emergency services who went to the assistance of those injured that night.

"You represented yourself as a hero.

"Sadly, you were not the hero that you pretended to be. You were a common thief."