Mick Philpott guilty: A controlling, manipulative and domineering man

Simon Garner
Philpott Fire Trial: Wife Treated Like 'Slave'

Mick Philpott - a controlling, manipulative, abusive, aggressive, domineering - all words used to describe him during his trial.

He treated the women in his life as possessions, wanted to play the system for maximum financial benefit, argued his case by using his fists, and was said to have joked about wanting enough children to make up the numbers for his own football team.

A leading police officer in the investigation into the fire that killed six of Philpott's children said it was "difficult not to take an instant dislike to him".

Philpott's own barrister, Anthony Orchard QC, described him in court as being portrayed as a "benefits scrounger" following his television appearances in 2006 and 2007 on The Jeremy Kyle Show and a documentary made by MP Ann Widdecombe.

"Michael Philpott is a man who raises in people quite a lot of emotion. People either love him or hate him," Mr Orchard said.

"He could be arrogant. He could be a bit of a loud mouth. He would shout his business to anyone who would listen. He could rub people up the wrong way.

"There are some people who like him but many who do not."

Few of the witnesses who gave evidence to the court had a high opinion of Philpott.

But many could not have envisaged the sinister and ill-thought out plan he launched when Lisa Willis left him.

Evidently, the jury in his trial did not agree with the defence case that no right-minded father would lay a naked flame to a petrol trail in the home where his children were upstairs sleeping.

There is an abundance of evidence to support claims that he was a man who did his best to control and contain any behaviour he saw as wayward and who became almost out of his mind when things did not go his way.

A Christmas Day was ruined when he became so enraged because he was not with all of his children at once that after finishing the family festive meal he ripped down decorations and destroyed the tree.

He was fixated on money - jurors heard during his trial that one of the many possible reasons for setting fire to the house might have been because he wanted all of his children in one place so he would get the most benefits payments.

Previous partners claimed he often said his desire was to not work and to stay at home and look after his children.

A decision was made that any money left over from donations by the public following the children's deaths, after funeral expenses had been paid and headstones bought, would be given to family in the form of Argos vouchers, prosecutors said - a fact disputed by defence teams.

It was rare that the wages earned by the women in his life would go into their own pockets. Most had their salary paid into a bank account controlled by Philpott.

The details of his sex life were like something out a low-budget film with descriptions of how his wife Mairead and Miss Willis took it in turns to sleep with him, how he went dogging with his wife, and how he persuaded her to have sex with other men in front of him.

All this from a man who admitted he did not bathe regularly. He told the court he had not used the shower or bath in his home for around three months before the blaze last May, and rarely changed his clothes.

His fake collapses and his overreaction to any kind of drama or event that was out of his control testified to the fact that he was a man who behaved in the most extreme way if he could not get his own way.

Prosecutor James House aptly summed it up in describing Philpott's character.

"He is a person who controls, who manipulates, and when that does not work he resorts to threats and then to violence," he said.

"They are actions a sensible and reasonable person would not undertake but he has done when he believes things are going against him."