11:36 GMT +322 January 2018
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    A portrait of Eilidh MacLeod, 14, who has been named as one of those who died in Monday's Manchester bombing, is seen at St Ann's Square in central Manchester, England, Friday, May 26 2017.

    Hero Turned Thief Who Stole From Manchester Arena Bomb Victims Faces Prison

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    A homeless man initially hailed as a hero is now facing jail after admitting stealing from the dying victims of the Manchester Arena bomb blast last year in which 22 people lost their lives.

    Chris Parker, 33, pleaded guilty at Manchester crown court on January 3, 2018, and has been warned by the judge to expect a prison sentence.

    Parker admitted two counts of theft and one count of fraud. He stole a purse belonging to Pauline Healey, who was seriously injured in the blast, and then used her bank card at a McDonald's in Manchester in the following days. Her 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, who cannot be named.

    News of his fall from grace quickly spread on social media with many condemning his behaviour while others voiced concern over what would now happen to the thousands of pounds raised for him in the wake of his fake bravery.

    Crowdfunding

    More than £50,000 was raised for him as part of a crowdfunding effort following the attack after he revealed how he had rushed to help the victims. He never received the money raised for him after CCTV showed him rifling through Healey's bag as her granddaughter lay dying. 

    Parker had been due to stand trial on January 2 but failed to show up. 

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

    Hiding

    Police discovered him hiding in a loft in Halifax early on January 3 and was immediately brought to court where he changed his plea to guilty. He had previously protested his innocence by insisting he had done nothing wrong.

    The court heard that Parker had failed to answer bail on a number of occasions over the past month and had sent text messages to his mother and ex-partner saying he intended to avoid going to court.

    CCTV footage captured Parker at the arena shortly after the bomb went off. He was filmed circling his victims, some of whom were scattered across the foyer and lying in pools of blood.

    At one point he appeared to kick a handbag across the floor and then go and look into it. He could also be seen looking through a coat left on a staircase.

    Eight charges

    Parker faced eight counts in total but denied five offences, including attempting to steal a coat and a bag and using Healey's Yorkshire Bank card at Tesco on Deansgate in Manchester and to buy a public transport ticket.

    The prosecution decided to accept Parker's three guilty pleas and not to proceed to trial on the other five counts.

    Parker had been hailed as a hero in the aftermath of the bombing after he described cradling a dying woman.

    He will be sentenced on 30 January. The judge, David Hernandez, warned him: "A custodial sentence is most likely in this case."

    Career criminal

    The court heard Parker has an extensive criminal record dating back to 2000 and has been convicted of offences including shoplifting, theft and criminal damage. In January 2016 he was found guilty of battery and theft from a dwelling and made the subject of a restraining order.

    Related:

    WATCH: Armed Police And Bomb Squad Arrive At Site Of Manchester Arena Explosion
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    investigation, bomb, attack, Manchester attack, Manchester blast, Manchester, England
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