Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

Mick Philpott: Father who helped kill six children had stabbed a former girlfriend

Floral tributes adorn the pavement outside a house in Allenton following the fire which claimed the lives of six children on May 14, 2012 in Derby, England
Floral tributes adorn the pavement outside a house in Allenton following the fire which claimed the lives of six children on May 14, 2012 in Derby, England
Mick Philpott and wife Mairead speak to the media at Derby Conference Centre, Derby following the fire at their home
Mick Philpott and wife Mairead speak to the media at Derby Conference Centre, Derby following the fire at their home
Artist's drawing of Mick Philpott in the witness box at Nottingham Crown Court (PA)
Artist's drawing of Mick Philpott in the witness box at Nottingham Crown Court (PA)

For the past 11 months, Mick and Mairead Philpott have lied, play-acted and sought to connive their way out of responsibility for their six children's deaths.

Yesterday, a jury found that the married couple had started the blaze which killed their young family.

Six unanimous verdicts were returned against the unemployed father-of-17, and a similar number of majority decisions against his wife.

The Philpotts and their friend Paul Mosley (46), who was also convicted, now face life in jail when they are sentenced for manslaughter later today.

There were angry scenes at Nottingham Crown Court at the end of the eight-week trial in which details of the Philpotts' unconventional sex life and drug use were replayed.

Mick Philpott (56) was seen to say "It's not over yet" as he was led away, while his 31-year-old wife stared at the floor and wept.

Members of the public hugged each other and sobbed as others shouted obscenities at the guilty couple, forcing the judge to clear the courtroom.

The jury was not told that Philpott -- who was described as a controlling and manipulating figure -- had a history of violence against women dating back to a 1978 attempted murder conviction for stabbing his former girlfriend and a serious assault on her mother.

In a pre-trial hearing it emerged he had been sentenced to seven years and five years to run concurrently for the assault, which was carried out in a jealous rage after the girlfriend tried to end their relationship when he was a 21-year-old-soldier.

Philpott crept into 17-year-old Kim Hill's house in the middle of the night. He later threatened another girlfriend, Heather Kehoe, holding a knife to her throat and warning her she would be stabbed too.

It can also now be reported that Philpott had sought to bully volunteers and control a £15,000 funeral fund raised by the local community in Allenton, Derby, in the aftermath of the tragedy, demanding that money left over from the ceremony be paid out to him in Argos vouchers.

Jade Philpott (10) and her brothers John (9), Jack (8), Jesse (6), Jayden (5), and Duwayne (13), all died from smoke inhalation when their parents set fire to the three-bed council house in the early hours of May 11 last year.

Derby City Council announced a serious case review into the actions of social services leading up to the tragedy, although none of the children was subject to child protection plans or legal orders.

The prosecution argued that the fire was started in a bid to "frame" Mr Philpott's former lover, Lisa Willis (29) but that it had gone "tragically and disastrously wrong" with temperatures in the house reaching 500C.

Ms Willis had lived with the couple along with her five children but walked out three months earlier, resulting in a vicious custody battle that had been due to go to court on the morning of the blaze. Mairead Philpott also had sex with Mosley after the fire on her husband's insistence in an effort to keep him onside.

The Derbyshire Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cotterill said it had been the most upsetting investigation he had ever taken part in: "This is a shocking case for everyone involved. Six young children lost their lives needlessly in a fire and all our efforts have been focused on getting justice for those children."

Justice has been served, says Irish dad

Mairead Philpott's Irish father Jimmy Duffy was in court with other members of the family, including her sisters Bernadette and Jennifer.

Mr Duffy, who emigrated from Dublin to the UK in the 1960s, embraced supporters outside the courthouse. Later the Duffy family said in a statement: "On 11 May 2012 Duwayne, Jade, John, Jack, Jesse and Jayden were taken away in the cruellest way imaginable by the very people who were supposed to love and protect them.

"We, Mairead's family, cannot describe the pain we feel. Today, justice has been served and we are happy with the verdict. We would like to thank everybody involved in this case."

Bogeyman who lived the life on benefits with two lovers

The Philpott trial revealed the darker side to the family's unorthodox living arrangements.

Mick Philpott made no apologies for the way he lived. "It's a great lifestyle," he boasted to Jeremy Kyle during one of his pantomime interrogations on daytime TV.

A mini-celebrity, who in the years leading up to the tragedy became a tabloid bogeyman, the 56-year-old unemployed baker was pilloried as an emblem of the modern benefits culture.

The fact he was father to 17 children by five different women and lived with two much younger partners -- his wife and a mistress with whom for more than a decade he spent alternate nights in a caravan parked in his driveway -- enraged conventional right-wing media morality.

Yet it also earned him an almost sneaking admiration from those on the liberal left that felt he was a defiant figure of working class individualism.

Life inside 18 Victory Road however was anything but great for the two women who inhabited Philpott's world. Quick to anger, he was their master who controlled the money they earned from the cleaning jobs to which he drove and collected them each day. He pocketed the benefits to which their large families entitled them.

They were to become virtual prisoners in the three-bedroom semi-detached house where they lived along with 11 children -- nine of whom were fathered by Philpott -- a pet dog called Goldie and Crackle the bird. When they defied him he beat and humiliated them, refusing to let them go out or mix with anyone that might threaten his control over them.

Yet while Philpott was able to engender almost instant loathing in authority figures his unconventional lifestyle, whilst not applauded, was tolerated by neighbours. The children were outwardly well-turned-out and cared for -- largely as a result of his wife Mairead, who would cook and clean while Mick played snooker or darts in the family games room, smoked cannabis with his friend Paul Mosley or made love to his mistress Lisa.

Far from being the family from hell, the Philpotts were liked by many and the wiry patriarch revelled in his local notoriety. According to neighbours the children were content. Neighbour Vicky Ferguson, who the Philpotts tried to frame along with her partner Adam Taylor over a borrowed petrol strimmer, recalls a "normal family -- nice happy kids".

Ms Ferguson said: "The house was clean and tidy -- no pots hanging around. Lisa was with Mick most of the time. The kids' bedrooms were typical -- toys and stuff. They had everything you could imagine them having."

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