A man with a history of violence and controlling younger women was convicted on Tuesday of killing six children in an “evil, stupid, shameful act” as part of a twisted attempt to frame a former lover who had dared to defy him.
Mick Philpott, 56, his wife Mairead, 31, and a friend involved in the plot, Paul Mosley, 46, were all convicted of manslaughter after setting ablaze their Derby home on May 11 last year, meaning to blame the inferno on Philpott’s former lover, who left him.
Instead, the fierce heat and smoke engulfed the home, leading to the deaths of six children aged five to 13 years, including five of Philpott’s 17 children and a son of Mairead from a previous relationship.
The jury was not told Philpott had a previous conviction in 1978 for attempting to murder a woman who wanted to leave him, who he stabbed a dozen times.
Such was Philpott’s hold on women that after the fire that killed his children he got his wife to perform a sex act on the third co-conspirator, Mosley, which the crown said was carried out to keep him on side as part of the plot. Philpott had children with five partners, claiming welfare benefits for himself and forcing women in his life to hand over money to him.
He also exploited public sympathy after the fire to try to benefit from money donated for the funerals of the children, Jayden, five, Jade, 10, John, nine, Jack, eight, Jesse, six, and 13-year-old Duwayne.
Assistant chief constable Steve Cotterill, of Derbyshire police, said: “This was an evil, stupid, shameful act which has resulted in the deaths of five of his own children. Six little kids there that have not got the chance to grow up. Five vacant chairs on the Monday morning at that primary school must have been horrendous not only for the teaching staff, but for all the other little kids there as well.”
In a highly unusual move, the families of the Philpotts said they were happy with the guilty verdicts that left Mick and Mairead Philpott facing lengthy jail terms when they were sentenced yesterday.
The crown alleged the fire was started with Philpott as the prime organizer in a plan to frame his former lover, Lisa Willis, who had walked out with their four children three months earlier.
Philpott had lived in the property with Willis and Mairead, who was the mother of the six children who were killed. He had sexual relationships with both women, alternating between the two. However, Willis — who said she was kept a virtual prisoner by Philpott — walked out on him, taking her five children with her, in February last year. She had one child from a previous relationship.
The fire at the council house in Victory Road took place hours before Philpott was due to face Willis in court for a custody hearing. The plan was for Philpott to rescue his children and for Willis to be prosecuted for arson, the court heard. However, it went horribly wrong when the blaze took hold fast. The adults escaped the house, but the six children died as they slept.