'Homeless hero' admits theft after Manchester Arena bomb attack
3 January 2018, 12:36
A "homeless hero" who was praised for his response to the Manchester Arena bombing has pleaded guilty to stealing from victims caught up in the attack.
Chris Parker was charged with the theft of a purse and theft of a mobile phone from two people outside the MEN Arena during the terror attack in May last year.
Twenty-two people were killed in the explosion, which was caused by suicide bomber Salman Abedi at the end of an Ariana Grande gig.
Parker was widely praised for his response to the attack after he spoke to news outlets about helping the injured.
The 33-year-old has now admitted taking the purse of Pauline Healey as her granddaughter, Sorrell Leczkowski, 14, lay dying yards away.
He also admitted one count of fraud, after using Mrs Healey's bank cards in McDonald's on the night of the attack.
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During a hearing at Manchester Crown Court, he also pleaded guilty to taking a mobile phone belonging to a teenage girl.
CCTV footage played in court showed Parker returning to Mrs Healey on multiple occasions before leaning over her and taking her purse.
He had been due to stand trial from 2 January, having previously denied the charges, but failed to turn up to court.
The case had to be adjourned, and he was later found hiding in the loft of a hostel in Halifax, where he was arrested.
Speaking after the hearing, Sky News North of England correspondent Frazer Maude said the CCTV footage showed Parker "picking up a jacket, feeling it as if to see if there was anything of value in it".
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He said: "The prosecution alleged he kicked a bag away from someone, before going back to it and rifling through it.
"He claimed that he had cradled a dying woman in his arms. Throughout all the CCTV footage, there was no evidence of him helping anyone.
"It was obvious that he was looking at people's possessions, in bags. Using his telephone to take pictures of the victims, those pictures were sold to one UK media outlet."
The photographs were sold to a UK news agency and it is understood they were used by some news sources.
Prosecutors said there was some evidence Parker had provided some help to people at the venue's entrance, but that he used the opportunity "equally" to steal.
Parker's lawyer told the court he was sorry for his "appalling behaviour".
He will be sentenced on January 30. Judge David Hernandez said custody was "likely".
The judge added that he would be unlikely to be able to refer to any other cases for guidance on sentencing.
Parker has several previous convictions dating from 2000, including shoplifting and burglary offences.
Mrs Healey went to the Arena with her daughter and granddaughter to meet someone after the concert but had not attended themselves. Mrs Healey was injured in the explosion and had 15 hours of surgery after the blast.
(c) Sky News 2018: 'Homeless hero' admits theft after Manchester Arena bomb attack