£52,000 given to Arena bombing ‘hero’ to be refunded after he admits theft

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Around £50,000 of donations to a homeless “hero” who later admitted stealing from victims of the Manchester Arena bombing will be refunded.

The funds were collected for rough sleeper Chris Parker after he claimed to have helped some of those injured in the attack.

More than 3,700 people gave a total of £52,539 in good faith after his story spread around the world.

Michael Johns, who started the fundraising appeal, said all the money will be refunded after Parker admitted stealing a purse and a phone from victims.

Chris Parker
Chris Parker received death threats from other inmates in prison after his arrest last year (PA)

In a statement on the GoFundMe page, Mr Johns said: “I would like to extend my sympathies to his victims that night and also apologise to them for any distress this campaign may have caused them whilst they continue to recover and grieve.”

He added that GoFundMe policy prevents him from giving the funds to any other charity or cause.

Salman Abedi’s suicide bombing killed 22 and left scores injured on May 22 last year.

Floral tributes left following the Manchester Arena bombing
Floral tributes left following the Manchester Arena bombing (Ben Birchall/PA)

Parker was seen in CCTV footage leaning over the body of injured survivor Pauline Healey to steal her purse as her 14-year-old granddaughter Sorrell Leczkowski lay dying nearby.

The 33-year-old also snatched the mobile phone of a teenager and within hours was using Mrs Healey’s bank cards at a local McDonald’s.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and one count of fraud at Manchester Crown Court on Wednesday.

Manchester Arena terror attack
Armed police at Manchester Arena after May’s terror attack (Peter Byrne/PA)

Prosecutors said it was clear the defendant provided “some limited assistance” but that he also took the opportunity to commit the thefts in the immediate aftermath of the atrocity.

Parker has a string of previous convictions, dating from 2000 to February of last year, including the theft of a purse from a woman and numerous shoplifting and burglary offences.

Judge David Hernandez remanded him in custody for sentence on January 30, adding a custodial sentence was “most likely”.

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