Fatal blaze noise 'like bonfire'
Published 04/03/2013 | 14:01
The noise made by a house fire in which six children died would have been like a raging bonfire or a large chimney blaze, a court has heard.
Mat Lee, from Derbyshire Fire Service, told Nottingham Crown Court the blaze at a house in Allenton, Derby, last May would have created the sound as it ignited.
He said: "I would expect it to make like a well-stoked chimney fire noise and some roaring as it spreads up the staircase. I would have expected to hear a whooshing noise on the ignition of the petrol vapour or gas."
The court heard that the fire started in the hallway and spread up the stairs, helped by an open window at the top of the landing. Mr Lee, who arrived at the scene hours after the flames had been extinguished, told jurors no petrol was found on the front step or on the door mat.
Six siblings died in the fire on May 11 - Jade, 10, and brothers John, nine, Jack, eight, Jesse, six and Jayden, five, all died following the blaze. Their brother Duwayne, 13, was taken to Derby Royal Hospital and transferred to Birmingham Children's Hospital, but died three days later.
Their parents, Mick and Mairead Philpott, and a third defendant, Paul Mosley, 46, are on trial over the deaths of the children. They have each denied six counts of manslaughter.
The court also heard from fingerprint expert Andrew Price, who told jurors he examined a window frame removed from the front left-hand side of the house by crime scene investigators in the aftermath of the fire. He identified two fingerprints on the plastic that belonged to 31-year-old Mrs Philpott, from her right hand.
Prosecutor Richard Latham QC asked him: "The marks are consistent with being left by Mairead Philpott doing what?" "Either leaning through the window or climbing through it," he said. Mr Price told the court he believed the prints were made at a time when the window was open but it was not possible to age a fingerprint. Other prints were also found on the window, including some belonging to the children and other family members. The prosecution claim the children's deaths were the result of a botched "plan" to frame 56-year-old Philpott's former mistress Lisa Willis.
Mr Latham told the court that post-mortem examinations carried out by Dr Stuart Hamilton found five of the children died as a result of inhalation of products of combustion. Referring to a report concerning nine-year-old John, which Mr Latham said was the same as those in respect of Jade, Jack, Jesse, and Jayden, jurors were told it was a "blessing" that it was unlikely the children were aware of the fire. Reading from Dr Hamilton's report, Mr Latham said: "It seems most likely that this child was overcome by fumes and was rendered unconscious without necessarily having awoken from sleep."
In relation to Duwayne, the jury was told his cause of death was hypoxic ischemic brain injury as a result of inhaling the products of combustion and consequent cardiac arrest. Mr Latham added: "Every effort was made to save his life over the 24 hours from his arrival in Derby and being certified dead in Birmingham." The trial was adjourned for the day.