Mother of homeless man who stole from Manchester bombing victims is sentenced

Christopher Parker was jailed for four years and three months at Manchester Crown Court in January after admitting theft and fraud
Christopher Parker was jailed for four years and three months at Manchester Crown Court in January after admitting theft and fraud

The mother of a homeless man who stole from stricken victims of the Manchester Arena bombing has been given an eight-month suspended jail sentence for taking almost £4,000 from a lifeboat charity.

Jessica Parker, 58, stole the money from Sea Palling Voluntary Rescue Service in Norfolk when she worked as its secretary.

She pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing at Norwich Magistrates' Court to 10 counts of fraud by abuse of position and was sentenced at Norwich Crown Court on Tuesday to eight months in prison suspended for two years.

She was also ordered to repay the £3,847 that she took within 28 days.

Her son, Christopher Parker, was jailed for four years and three months at Manchester Crown Court in January after admitting theft and fraud.

He had been hailed a hero after the tragedy on May 22 last year as he appeared on TV talking about how he helped those caught up in the blast.

More than £50,000 was raised to help him through a public appeal on GoFundMe but he did not receive this, with money instead returned to donors.

Sentencing the rough sleeper's mother on Tuesday, Judge Stephen Holt said Parker, of Corton Road, Norwich, was secretary of a small charity intended to help with the costs of a lifeboat.

He said the charity had been hit hard, and volunteers feared it may affect future donations.

"Their real worry is in future the public will remember this story and be careful about donating funds," he said.

"I don't think the public have anything to fear and they can continue to support this charity now you, a dishonest secretary, have been removed."

He said Parker reacted in an "aggressive, unpleasant way" when challenged by other volunteers, and questioned her remorse.

"It seems to me, if you were truly remorseful you would have repaid this money a long time ago - you haven't."

Lindsay Cox, prosecuting, said the offending happened over a three-month period in 2016 and came to light when a new treasurer discovered irregularities with the charity's finances.

He said Parker "flew off the handle and refused to discuss the matter" when confronted by colleagues.

She was suspended from her role and police were called in.

He said Parker had made payments to herself including cheques, and got away with this as second signatories trusted her.

"She would hand blank cheques to the signatories for them to sign; they trusted her and did so," said Mr Cox.

Danielle O'Donovan, mitigating, said Parker was "deeply ashamed" of what had happened.

She said Parker had suffered a "near breakdown because of stress anxiety" and had been in a "difficult, mentally abusive relationship with a man".

She said the money was used for ordinary purchases and Parker would repay it with money borrowed from her sister.

The court heard that Parker had previously been convicted of deception with intent to defraud in 1983, and false accounting and failing to notify of a change of circumstances in 2007.