LONDON, United Kingdom – A homeless man hailed as a hero for apparently coming to the aid of victims of the Manchester Arena terror attack was jailed for more than 4 years Tuesday after admitting to actually robbing them.
Chris Parker, 33, had claimed to have helped some of those injured in last year’s attack but CCTV footage shown at Manchester Crown Court captured him rifling through the purse of victim Pauline Healey, whose 14-year-old granddaughter lay dying nearby.
He later used the card at a local McDonald’s, the court heard.
On passing the 4-year-and-3-month sentence, 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.”
An online appeal launched in the immediate aftermath of the bombing at the concert by US singer Ariana Grande concert raised more than £50,000 ($70,700, 56,800 euros) for the rough sleeper. The money will be returned to the donors.
Parker was interviewed by British media in the aftermath of the attack carried out by Salman Abedi, saying he had been begging outside the concert arena when the bomb went off.
A tearful Parker told the Press Association news agency at the time: “I heard a bang and within a split second I saw a white flash, then smoke and then I heard screaming.”
“It knocked me to the floor and then I got up and instead of running away my gut instinct was to run back and try and help,” he said.
Parker also stole a mobile phone from a teenage girl in the wake of the attack, which killed 22 people on May 22 last year.
Parker has a string of previous convictions, including shoplifting and burglary. – Rappler.com