Manchester Arena attack: ‘Hero’ admits theft from victims

A homeless man who stole a purse and a phone from victims of the Manchester Arena attack has admitted theft.

Chris Parker, 33, was initially dubbed a hero after claiming he comforted a seriously injured girl.

CCTV footage played to Manchester Crown Court showed him wandering between stricken victims.

He kept returning to injured Pauline Healey, whose granddaughter lay dying nearby, before leaning over her and taking her handbag to steal her purse.

Paramedics and police were also captured trying to resuscitate victims close by as he did so.

Within hours of taking the purse, he was using Mrs Healey’s bank card at a local fast food restaurant.

Hiding in loft

Salman Abedi detonated a home-made bomb at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena on 22 May, killing 22 people and injuring many more.

Parker’s trial was due to start on Tuesday but was delayed after he failed to appear.

He was found hiding in a loft of a house in Halifax, West Yorkshire, where he was arrested.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and one of fraud after admitting using a debit card from the stolen purse.

Police at scene outside Manchester Arena

Salman Abedi detonated a home-made bomb in the foyer of the arena on 22 May last year

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

Louise Brandon, prosecuting, said: “By his pleas he’s admitted stealing items belonging to victims of the attack on the arena and using a bank card thereafter. I do not seek a trial on the remaining counts.”

‘Limited assistance’

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

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

John Broadley, defending, asked for pre-sentence reports on Parker who has previous theft and shoplifting convictions dating from 2000 to February of last year.

Judge David Hernandez said a custodial sentence was “most likely”.

Parker, now of Halifax, will remain in custody until he is sentenced on 30 January.

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