Can heroism ever be less than heroic? In the case of 33-year-old Chris Parker of Manchester, England, it certainly seems to be.
Parker, who is homeless, rose to fame on May 22, 2017, when terrorists bombed an Ariana Grande concert at The Manchester Arena.
He would regularly beg in the venue’s foyer, so when the first detonation occurred, he rushed in to help.
“Everyone was piling out, all happy and everything else,” he told The Independent.
“As people were coming out of the glass doors, I heard a bang, and within a split second, I saw a white flash, then smoke, and then I heard screaming.”
He vividly described aiding a young girl who’d lost her legs in the blast and holding a woman in her sixties as she took her final breaths. “It’s the screams I can’t get over and the smell,” he said.
Numerous media outlets lauded him for his bravery, dubbing him “the homeless hero.”
When the public heard about his actions, a GoFundMe campaign cropped up, drawing down over £52,000 ($70,300) in donations for Parker’s support.
But there was just one problem with all the accolades: A later review of CCTV footage showed Parker stealing from the dead and the dying.
The video revealed that Parker repeatedly returned to a woman named Pauline Healey and took her purse as her 14-year-old granddaughter lay dying. He also filched a phone from a minor.
Within hours of the robbery, he was using Healey’s credit card at a local McDonald’s.
The evidence led prosecutors to bring five theft-related counts against him.
When Parker didn’t show up for his court date on Jan. 3, police began to search for him. They eventually found him hiding in the attic of a house.
After finally standing before a judge, the former “hero” admitted his wrongdoing. “He’s tendered these pleas and all he can do in the circumstances is first of all plead guilty and apologise for his appalling behaviour that evening,” Parker’s attorney said.
It’s never pleasant to see the facade of someone you thought was brave get ripped away.
Still, Britons and those impacted by the Manchester attack can take comfort in knowing that a crook who tried to take advantage of a terrible situation will get his just desserts.
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