A homeless man declared a hero at the terror attack outside of an Ariana Grande concert was found guilty of stealing from dying victims.
The Independent reports Chris Parker pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and one of fraud Tuesday (Jan. 2). Parker was called a hero by many after he gave touching testimonies to the media about aiding victims in the May 2016 incident.
Shortly after the bombing, Parker reportedly helped an older woman and picked up a teen who lost her legs in the blast outside of the concert arena. “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 in May.
But CCTV footage caught disturbing behavior by Parker. He was seen digging into a handbag belonging to Pauline Healey, who laid helplessly on the floor while her 14-year-old granddaughter was dying nearby. Parker used her debit card at a local McDonalds and took a phone from another underaged victim. CCTV also showed Parker looking distressed as he looked through a jacket found on the floor.
His “hero” tendency was slightly supported when footage showed him helping a woman and speaking to a teen next to a police officer.
Three other counts of fraud, including the theft of the coat were dropped after he admitted to stealing the debit card and the phone.
Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) representative Louise Brandon called the 33-year-old’s behavior appalling. “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,” he said. “He’s tendered these pleas and all he can do in the circumstances is first of all plead guilty, and apologize for his appalling behavior that evening.”
Parker originally denied the charges in August. The nearly $70,000 raised via GoFundMe for Parker will be returned to contributors.
“Whereas I do believe Chris has a right to be rehabilitated and have help to turn his life around, prison would be a waste of time and money otherwise; I also must take in to account the integrity of the donations made,” account creator Michael Johns said. “In the circumstances, it is only appropriate for the fund to be wound up and all donations returned. I do this without any personal judgement on Chris and with complete respect to the ongoing court proceedings.”
Parker will be sentenced Jan. 30.