Man who stole from bomb victims jailed
COURT: A judge has condemned a “despicable” homeless thief who claimed to have helped victims of the Manchester Arena bombing but was later found to have stolen from victims lying seriously injured following the terrorist attack.
Chris Parker, 33, was jailed for four years and three months yesterday.
A JUDGE has condemned a “despicable” homeless thief who claimed to have helped victims of the Manchester Arena bombing but was later found to have stolen from people lying seriously injured following the terrorist attack.
Chris Parker, 33, was jailed for four years and three months at Manchester Crown Court yesterday after Judge David Hernandez watched graphic CCTV footage of him rummaging through people’s possessions amid the chaotic aftermath of the explosion.
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.” The judge added: “Your behaviour has been viewed as repugnant by the community as a whole.”
Parker, who was also banned from central Manchester for ten years, showed no emotion as he was sentenced after admitting theft and fraud at a previous hearing.
He initially won praise following the tragedy on May 22 last year as he appeared on TV talking about how he helped those caught up in the blast.
But he had in fact stolen a purse from seriously injured Pauline Healey as her granddaughter, 14-year-old Leeds schoolgirl Sorrell Leczkowski, lay dying next to her.
Over the next few days, Parker used Mrs Healey’s debit card to pay for meals at McDonald’s totalling £12.
He also stole a phone from another 14-year-old girl who was badly hurt in the explosion.
A victim statement from the girl’s mother was read to the court which said: “I was just astounded as I thought that I had seen the worst thing that a person could do to others and this was yet another blow as to how despicable people could be.”
Louise Brandon, prosecuting, said: “As the tragedy unfolded around him, when the vast majority of those who were in the arena with him were trying to save lives and care for the injured and lost, the defendant was focused on seeking to take advantage of the situation.
“The CCTV shows the defendant, in the 45 minutes that he was in the arena, taking the opportunities that presented themselves to him to take photographs and to look for and, where possible, take valuable items, such as purses and mobile telephones from the bags of the victims or from the floor, where they had landed when their owners had lost them as the bomb was activated.”
Parker will not receive any of the £50,000 that was raised for him by the public before his crimes came to light, with the money instead being returned to the donors.