Fire Deaths: Philpotts And Friend Jailed

Mick Philpott has been described in court as "the driving force" behind a fire that killed six children, as he was sentenced to life in prison.

He was told by the trial judge at Nottingham Crown Court that he must serve a minimum of 15 years behind bars for the deaths.

Mrs Justice Kate Thirlwall also said he was a "disturbingly dangerous man" with "no moral compass", adding: "Your guiding principle is what Mick Philpott wants, Mick Philpott gets."

The 56-year-old defendant looked down at the floor as the judge handed down the life term.

He showed little emotion until his wife Mairead, 32, was also sentenced over their children's deaths.

He then wiped tears from his eyes and she wept as she was jailed for 17 years and was told she would serve half of that.

Their friend Paul Mosley, 46, received the same sentence as Mairead. He showed no emotion.

After sentencing, family members in the public gallery applauded. One shouted: "Die, Mick, die", while another said: "See you, Mairead. Hope you enjoy life on your own". A third person called out: "Your own babies".

In response, Mick Philpott smiled and made an obscene hand gesture - sticking two fingers up - as he was led from the dock.

The trio were found guilty of six counts of manslaughter - one for each of the victims - on Tuesday.

The defendants were convicted of killing Jade Philpott, 10, and her brothers John, nine, Jack, eight, Jesse, six, Jayden, five, and Duwayne, 13, in the blaze at the family home in Derby last May.

Mrs Justice Thirlwall told the trio they were all responsible for the deaths and she had "not the slightest doubt" that Mick Philpott was "the driving force" behind the plot.

He shook his head as the judge outlined his previous violent relationships, including when he stabbed a former girlfriend 13 times.

The judge said he used that attempted murder conviction as a way of controlling other women.

Philpott treated women as his "chattels", the judge told him, adding: "You barked orders and they would obey. You were the kingpin. No-one else mattered."

Dawn Bestwick, his sister, told reporters outside court that justice had been done for the children.

"Victory to them. They've gone down. That's it," she said.

"Shameless Mick", as he was known on his estate, lived in a council house, claimed thousands of pounds in benefits and refused to get a job.

Chancellor George Osborne said the case highlighted the need for reform of the benefits system, as he questioned why taxpayers were funding "lifestyles like that".

Mr Osborne said Philpott was responsible for his "absolutely horrendous" crimes, but said there was a "question for government and for society" about the benefits that allowed Philpott to live the way he did.

The defendants started the fire in the early hours of May 11, pouring petrol in the hallway of the property.

They planned that Philpott should break in by the back door and rescue the children.

But the plot went wrong as fire ripped through the three-bedroom council house in Victoria Road, with temperatures reaching 500C.

The judge described the plot as "a wicked and dangerous plan" that was "outside the comprehension of any right-thinking person".

The three defendants had devised the plan to frame Lisa Willis, Philpott's former girlfriend.

Philpott was fighting a custody battle with Miss Willis, 29, who had lived with the couple and slept with Philpott on alternate nights while living at the house.

Both women were said to have lived happily with one another for a decade but Miss Willis left Philpott three months before the deadly fire, taking her five children, four of whom were fathered by him.

Philpott had become "obsessed" with Miss Willis and, after she left, did everything to get her back, said Mrs Justice Thirlwall.

She told him: "You could not stand the fact that she had crossed you. You were determined to make sure she came back and you began to put together your plan."

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Superintendent Kate Meynell from Derbyshire Police said: "Six innocent children died as a result of the actions of their parents, the very people who should have protected them against danger. 

"The Philpotts and Paul Mosley showed no regard for the safety of the children and since the fire have shown no remorse for their actions.

"They have lied throughout the investigation and court case. There were plenty of opportunities to admit their guilt but they never did and persisted with their denials.

"This has been an incredibly tragic case to investigate and today's sentences bring this difficult inquiry to a close."

The judge was expected to sentence the trio on Wednesday but wanted more time to reflect after mitigation on behalf of the defendants. There were extra police officers on duty outside court.

On Wednesday, Philpott made obscene hand gestures from the dock as he was heckled by members of Mairead's family following his defence team's plea for leniency.

The taunting came after lawyers argued he was a "very good father" who had been "unable to grieve".

His barrister, Mr Anthony Orchard QC, urged the judge to pass the minimum sentence on him, saying the father of 17 children by five different women would "have to live with the hatred and hostility of the press and the public for the rest of his life".

He added that Philpott "faces hostility from other prisoners on a daily basis".

The defence teams of Mairead and Mosley also appealed for leniency as part of the mitigation process in the case.

Unemployed Philpott's criminal record was laid bare in court. It emerged he was on bail for a violent road rage incident at the time of the children's deaths.

A week before the fire he had appeared in court and admitted common assault but denied dangerous driving after punching another driver who he thought had pulled out in front of him at a roundabout.

The court was told the previous girlfriend he had stabbed 13 times was so badly hurt that she still has to take medication.

Mrs Justice Thirlwall heard how Philpott attacked Kim Hill in 1978, leaving her with a broken arm and finger.

He had also been given a police caution for slapping his wife and dragging her from their home by the hair.