Manchester Arena homeless 'hero' stole from victims and took photos of the dead

Telegraph Reporters
Chris Parker was hailed a hero after the attack  - Matthew Pover

A homeless man who was hailed a hero in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing has admitted stealing a purse and mobile phone from stricken victims of the attack.

Horrific CCTV footage played in court showed Chris Parker wandering between stricken and dying victims left bleeding on the floor.

He repeatedly returned to Pauline Healey, whose granddaughter lay dying nearby, before leaning over her body and taking her handbag to steal her purse.

Parker, 33, pleaded guilty at Manchester Crown Court to two counts of theft and one of fraud.

Within hours of taking the purse of Mrs Healey, who was injured in the blast, he was using her bank card at a local McDonald's.

Parker - who been sleeping rough near the Arena on the night of the tragedy - had initially been hailed a "hero" after he described wrapping an injured girl in a T-shirt and cradled a dying woman in his arms.

But he was later arrested after CCTV footage showed him stealing the purse of Mrs Healey as her granddaughter Sorrell Leczkowski, 14, lay dying yards away and also taking a mobile phone belonging to a teenage girl.

Sorrell Leczkowski died in the Manchester bombing

The video was played at Manchester Crown Court on Wednesday as Parker, from Halifax, West Yorks pleaded guilty to stealing a purse, a second charge of theft of an iPhone 6 from the girl - who cannot be named - and fraud by using one of Mrs Healey's bank cards in a McDonalds.

He pleaded not guilty to further charges of attempting to steal the contents of a handbag, attempted theft of a coat, using Mrs Healey's bank card in a Tesco store and of using it on the Greater Manchester public transport system.

After the pleas it emerged he had been on the run for a month after he was bailed to a hostel on condition he wore an electronic tag. It is believed he cut the tag off and dumped it in a soup can before failing to appear in court on December 6. A warrant was issued for his arrest three days before Christmas.

Parker was detained on Tuesday evening when police found him hiding in a loft hours after he failed to show up for his trial having earlier told his ex-girlfriend he planned to give himself up.

Parker showed no emotion and bowed his head in the dock as prosecutor Louise Brandon said: "He has admitted stealing items from the victims of the terror attack at Manchester Arena. Under these circumstances the prosecution accept his pleas and will not be looking for a trial on the remaining counts."

Chris Parker was seen on CCTV stealing after the attack 

Defence counsel John Broadley said: "The only thing he can do is plead guilty and sincerely apologise for his appalling behaviour on that evening. The defendant does not shirk from the fact this will be a custodial sentence."

Parker will be sentenced on January 30 and was remanded in custody. Trial judge David Hernandez said: "A custodial sentence is likely in this case. The court should know more about your background before proceeding to sentence."

Earlier the footage showed Parker looking over his shoulder as people ran in the foyer after the explosion.

He went on his own mobile phone before going into the Arena walking passed bodies and kneeling over them. He was seen to kick a bag and look inside it then walk around around talking to police at the scene.

Seconds later he was back on his phone again before squatting on the floor appearing to looking for items. He was seen to pick up a phone but was not seen putting it down again. He was also seen speaking outside the venue to a child believed to be 12-year old Millie Kiss whose mother Michelle died in the explosion and who was seen being comforted by a policewoman outside the venue.

He was seen to spend several moments with the girl before going back on his phone and returning inside the Arena where he was spotted taking photographs of the horrific scene. He was seen to bend down over Mrs Healey and touch her before picking up her bag and looking in it.

He was also seen to apparently take pictures of her. Photos found on his phone showed bodies strewn around the floor in the foyer, a shirtless man being tended to as he lay seriously injured and a third picture of Mrs Healey with her hand over her face, eyes closed in pain.

A fourth image showed a pound coin next to a nail shrapnel.

The court heard Parker took Mrs Healey's purse, containing bank cards, from a handbag as she lay on the ground. Mrs Healey, Sorrell and Sorrell's mother, Samantha Leczkowski, did not attend the concert but were there to meet somebody who had.

The grandmother underwent 15 hours of surgery to remove shrapnel from her body and also suffered multiple compound fractures to her arms and legs, while Sorrell's mother was also seriously injured.

Sorrell, who was a pupil at Allerton High School in Leeds, was hoping to be an architect and wanted to study at Columbia University in New York.

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