Derby Fire: Philpotts Guilty Of Child Deaths

David Crabtree, Midlands Correspondent
Sky News2 April 2013

Mick Philpott and his wife Mairead have been found guilty of the manslaughter of six children in a fire at their house in Derby.

Their friend Paul Mosley was also convicted of manslaughter over the petrol-fuelled blaze that engulfed the semi-detached house at Allenton, Derby in May last year.

Mick Philpott stared straight ahead as his guilty verdict was read out, but when his wife was convicted he shook his head. She looked down at the floor, clasping a tissue in her hands.

Mosley showed no emotion as he heard the verdicts.

Moments later the court was cleared because a spectator, believed to be one of Mairead Philpott's sisters, shouted: "You murdering b******".

As he was led from the dock, Mick Philpott shouted: "Not over yet, mate!"

The 56-year-old was attempting to frame his ex-mistress and win custody of his other offspring when he set the fire, the court heard. Lisa Willis, 28, had left the house with her five children and the Philpotts wanted them back.

But the jury at Nottingham Crown Court was told "the plan went horribly wrong".

Five of the children, who died of smoke inhalation as they slept, were Mick and Mairead Philpott's; Jade, 10; John, nine; Jack, eight; Jesse, six; and Jayden, who was five.

Duwayne, 13, who was Mairead Philpott's child from a former partner, died in hospital three days later.

Paul Mosley told friends they had "actually rehearsed" the fire six weeks earlier and the plan was for him to rescue the children. He would break in the back door while the Philpotts were out front.

The jury heard a disturbing and chaotic 999 call made by the Philpotts. In it Mick Philpott was heard to say: "I can't get in." He had tried to punch and smash his way through an upstairs window, but had been beaten back by the smoke.

While it was being played, he said: "I can't listen to it." He tried to leave the dock but he was stopped by prison guards and sat sobbing with his head in his hands.

As the bodies were being carried from the house, Mick Philpott immediately began to blame Ms Willis, who he had earlier reported to police for allegedly threatening him and his family.

Samantha Shallow, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Today's verdict shows that the children died as a result of the actions of Michael and Mairead Philpott and Paul Mosley when they set the fire.

"It was started as a result of a plan between the three of them to turn family court proceedings in Mr Philpott's favour. It was a plan that went disastrously and tragically wrong.

"Amid all the details of the defendants' personal lives that have come out in court, it should not be forgotten that at the heart of this case were the deaths of six innocent children."

In a statement read by police on the steps of Nottingham Crown Court, Mick Philpott's sister Dawn Bestwick, said: "My family and I have attended court each and every day and listened objectively to all the evidence in this trial to understand what happened to our six beautiful children on May 11 2012.

"Following today's verdict, we the family of Michael Philpott, believe justice has been served."

Anthony Latham QC, prosecuting, said that people at the hospital noted that Mick Philpott was "spotlessly clean" for someone who had been caught up in a house fire.

He told the court that afterwards he had sex and smoked cannabis to try to blot out the horror of what had happened.

"I was finding it hard to cope," said Philpott. "Having sex and smoking cannabis was one way of blocking it out. It was my idea, not my wife's."

After the blaze police bugged their hotel room and a police vehicle.

Mick Philpott was heard to say to Mairead: "Don't worry, we will walk through it. I promise you that, unless you want me to blab about it ... don't say nothing now, don't say nothing."

In another part of the recording he is alleged to have said: "I didn't mean to do it, on my life."

The court was told of the unconventional lifestyle at the house in Victory Road, Allenton.

Mairead Philpott and Ms Willis took it in turns to sleep with Mick Philpott in his caravan on the drive. He said he preferred Ms Willis, but believed that at one time they had been one "big happy family".

The wages or benefits of both women were paid into Mr Philpott's account. He was said to have had complete control over both of them.

At times Mairead Philpott had sex with her husband and co-defendant Paul Moseley. The Philpotts also went dogging together. Mairead it was was the only time her husband gave her proper attention.

He had mentioned divorcing his wife to marry his mistress but Lisa Willis lost her patience with the arrangement in Victory Road and left the home with her five children three months before the fire.

On the day of the fire, Ms Willis and Mick Philpott were due in court to discuss custody of the children.

All three will be sentenced on Wednesday at 10.30am.

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