It was one of the heart warming stories of the tragedies of the Manchester Arena bombing on 22 May 2017 – Chris Parker, a homeless man who was sleeping rough near where the attack happened, went to help and comforted a seriously injured girl and a woman who died in his arms.
The story turned sour in August when he was charged with stealing property from the victims.
On 3 January 2018 Mr Parker pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and one of fraud. These related to the theft or a purse and a phone (it’s not clear if this was from different victims or not) and the later use of a card from the purse at a local fast food restaurant.
The case was adjourned until 30 January for sentence.
This may be a good example of a case where the Sentencing Guidelines go out the window due to the circumstances of the offence. Looking at the theft guidelines, at its highest this is a Cat 4A case probably, which would be a non-custodial sentence (the fraud guidelines give a similar result).
It is likely that it will be treated as being more serious than that due to circumstances of the case – anyone looking at it will have an inevitable feeling of revulsion at stealing property in those circumstances – and we would expect a custodial sentence, maybe of up to two years after a trial.
It is likely that the only thing that would save Mr Parker is the fact that he appears to have had a couple of months in custody. It might be that that, along with the guilty pleas, persuades the Judge to take a view that that is punishment enough to avoid an immediate custodial sentence. We shall see…