NEWS
03/01/2018 14:21 GMT

Manchester Arena Bombing’S Homeless ‘Hero’ Admits Stealing From Stricken Victims

A homeless man who was hailed a hero in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing has admitted stealing a purse and mobile phone from stricken victims of the attack.

Horrific CCTV footage played in court showed Chris Parker wandering between stricken and dying victims left bleeding on the floor.

He repeatedly returned to Pauline Healey, whose granddaughter lay dying nearby, before leaning over her body and taking her handbag to steal her purse.

Parker, 33, pleaded guilty at Manchester Crown Court to two counts of theft and one of fraud.

Within hours of taking the purse of Mrs Healey, who was injured in the blast, he was using her bank card at a local McDonald’s.

Floral tributes left following the Manchester Arena bombing (Ben Birchall/PA)

He failed to turn up in court on Tuesday and was found hiding in the loft of a house in Halifax, West Yorkshire, where he was arrested.

Parker pleaded not guilty to five counts relating to attempted theft of a coat and bag discarded in the chaos and the use of Mrs Healey’s bank cards in the days after the attack.

Prosecutors have not pursued these charges after his guilty pleas.

John Broadley, defending, asked for pre-sentence reports on Parker, who has a string of previous convictions, dating from 2000 to last February, including the theft of a purse from a woman and numerous shoplifting and burglary offences.

Judge David Hernandez remanded Parker in custody for sentence on January 30, adding a custodial sentence is “most likely”.

After his arrest Parker had been remanded in custody at HMP Manchester but was unable to leave his cell because of death threats from fellow inmates.

The rough sleeper had received global acclaim and was hailed a hero after claiming to have helped comfort injured and dying victims moments after suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated his home-made device.

But CCTV footage told a different story.

Armed police at Manchester Arena after May’s terror attack. CCTV footage showed Parker going in and out of the foyer (Peter Byrne/PA)

The grim footage showed how he preyed on Mrs Healey, as her granddaughter Sorrell Leczkowski, 14, lay dying nearby, and stole the phone of another victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Mr Broadley said: “He’s tendered these pleas and all he can do in the circumstances is first of all plead guilty and apologise for his appalling behaviour that evening.”

Prosecutors said it was clear the defendant provided “some limited assistance” to people injured at the entrance to the venue’s foyer.

But it was the Crown’s case that he “equally” took the opportunity to commit the thefts in the immediate aftermath of the atrocity.

Mrs Healey, along with her granddaughter and Samantha, Sorrell’s mother, had gone to the foyer of the Manchester Arena to meet friends and had not themselves attended the Ariana Grande concert.

The grandmother later underwent 15 hours of surgery to remove shrapnel from her body and also suffered multiple compound fractures to her arms and legs, while Sorrell’s mother was also seriously injured.

Sorrell, who was a pupil at Allerton High School in Leeds, was hoping to be an architect and wanted to study at Columbia University in New York.

In a 20-minute compilation of CCTV footage from the arena, too graphic to be released, the defendant is seen going in and out of the foyer, walking around various parts of the entrance.