Homeless man who was hailed as hero admits Manchester bombing thefts

Helen Pidd North of England editor
Manchester Arena. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

A homeless man hailed as a hero after the Manchester Arena bomb has admitted stealing from the victims.

Chris Parker, 33, pleaded guilty at Manchester crown court on Wednesday.

Parker pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and one count of fraud. He admitted stealing a purse belonging to Pauline Healey, who was seriously injured in the bomb, and then using her bank card at a McDonald’s in Manchester. Healey’s 14-year-old granddaughter Sorrell Leczkowski died in the attack on 22 May. Parker also admitted stealing a mobile phone belonging to a teenage girl caught up in the attack.

More than £50,000 was raised for him as part of a crowdfunding effort following the attack after he told journalists that he had rushed to help the victims.

But CCTV showed him rifling through Healey’s bag as her granddaughter lay dying. He never received the money raised for him following his arrest in August.

He was due to stand trial on Tuesday but failed to show up.

The court heard he had not been seen since shortly after Christmas when he was discharged from Calderdale hospital in West Yorkshire. His electronic tag was found in an empty soup tin outside his bail hostel in Halifax and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Early on Wednesday morning he was found by police hiding in a loft in Halifax and was brought to court, where he changed his plea to guilty.

More details soon …