A homeless man who claimed to have helped victims of the Manchester Arena bombing but stole from those lying seriously injured has been jailed by a judge who told him: ‘You were not the hero that you pretended to be. You were a common thief.’
Chris Parker, 33, was jailed for four years and three months at Manchester Crown Court after Judge David Hernandez watched graphic CCTV footage of him rummaging through personal possessions among the dead and the seriously injured.
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 said: ‘Your behaviour has been viewed as repugnant by the community as a whole.’
Parker showed no emotion as he was sentenced after admitting theft and fraud at a previous hearing.
He was hailed a hero after the tragedy on May 22 last year as he appeared on TV talking about how he helped those caught up in the blast.
Parts of a victim personal statement were read to the court from the mother of a 14-year-old girl whose phone was taken by Parker.
The girl was seriously injured in the blast.
It 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 Parker picked up the phone belonging to the teenager who had been holding the handset as the bomb went off.
Miss Brandon said the phone rang a number of times as people were trying to contact the girl and Parker terminated one call with an automatic return text message which read: ‘Sorry I can’t talk right now.’
The prosecutor said of the mother’s personal statement:’Upon finding (the girl), she describes how her daughter was upset at the loss of her telephone because she was unable to contact family and friends to let them know how she was.’
The judge also banned Parker from central Manchester for 10 years.