Manchester attack 'hero' charged with stealing from victim

Chris Parker was charged with two counts of theft. The charges relate to a bank card belonging to Ms Pauline Healey.
Chris Parker was charged with two counts of theft. The charges relate to a bank card belonging to Ms Pauline Healey.

LONDON • A homeless man hailed as a hero for coming to the aid of victims of the Manchester Arena terror attack in May was yesterday charged with stealing a bank card from one of them.

Chris Parker, 33, was interviewed by British media in the aftermath of the attack in which 22 people were killed, 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.

"There were people lying on the floor everywhere," he said, adding that a woman died in his arms and he went to the rescue of a little girl whose mother was killed.

But Greater Manchester Police said Parker "has been charged with two counts of theft", the AFP news agency reported.

The charges relate to a bank card belonging to Ms Pauline Healey, who was injured in the attack.

Ms Healey's 14-year-old granddaughter was killed in the blast set off by suicide bomber Salman Abedi, while her daughter was also seriously injured.

Parker's story had touched hearts amid national mourning following the attack claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

A crowd-funding campaign for Parker raised more than £50,000 ($88,000), although the money was never handed to him.

One donor even offered to home Parker temporarily and the man's estranged mother contacted her local newspaper after the bombing asking her son to make contact.

"It's exactly the sort of thing Chris would do, he had such a good heart," his mother was quoted as saying in the Eastern Daily Press.

"He wouldn't think twice about helping those poor people.

"I'm extremely proud of him and I just feel like I need to get in contact.

"He was knocked down in the blast and he so easily could have died."

The bomb went off just after the end of a concert by pop star Ariana Grande.

Manchester Arena producers yesterday said they would re-open on Sept 9 for the first time since the attack with a charity concert that will include Noel Gallagher from the Manchester band Oasis.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2017, with the headline 'Manchester attack 'hero' charged with stealing from victim'. Print Edition | Subscribe