A father accused of killing his six children in a house fire collapsed and sobbed in the witness box as a court heard a 999 call made by him and his wife as the blaze took hold.
Sitting in the court as he gave evidence, Mick Philpott, 56, doubled over and wept loudly as Nottingham Crown Court in England heard the desperate call made to emergency services as the children were trapped inside the house.
Sitting in the court dock his wife Mairead, 31, began to cry as the call started to play to jurors.
Six siblings died in the fire. Jade, 10, and brothers John, nine, Jack, eight, Jesse, six and Jayden, five, died during the blaze. Their brother Duwayne, 13, was taken to Derby Royal Hospital and transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital but died three days later.
Philpott, his wife, and a third defendant Paul Mosley, 46, have all denied six separate counts of manslaughter in relation to each of the deaths.
Shortly before the 999 call was played to their trial, Philpott fought to maintain his composure as he described trying to get to his children in the upstairs bedrooms as the fire began to engulf the house in Victory Road, Derby, in the early hours of May 11 last year.
He said he and his wife were sleeping naked in the conservatory when they were woken by the sound of the fire alarm going off in the house.
They went into the kitchen and saw an “orange light” that seemed to be coming out of the living room, he said.
Anthony Orchard QC, defending Philpott, asked him: “What was your first thought when you realised there was a fire?”
Philpott replied: “My kids.”
“What did you want to do in relation to your children?”
Philpott fought back tears as he answered: “I wanted to get to them.”
He said he could feel the warmth from the fire and hear a crackling sound but was unable to get out the front of the house, so he and his wife headed towards the back exit.
Philpott said he picked up a phone nearby and rang 999 and put on his boxer shorts and Derby County tracksuit bottoms before heading outside.
He used a ladder at the back of the house to climb up to the bedroom window where the children were sleeping but was unable to smash the glass, so returned into the house where he found a children’s tennis racket.
Asked by Mr Orchard how he felt when he could not smash the glass, he replied: “I was hysterical. How do you explain trying to get in to your babies? You can’t explain it.”
Philpott eventually managed to break the glass with a wrench but said he could not get in because the hole was no bigger than his head.
Holding a tissue up to his face and his voice cracking with emotion, Philpott told jurors: ``I wanted to get to them but I couldn't.''
Members of the packed public gallery also wiped away tears as they heard the 999 call and desperate screams of Mrs Philpott as she and her husband talked to the emergency services operator.
Earlier in his evidence, Philpott told the court he had nothing to do with starting the fire.
Mr Orchard asked: “Did you set the fire?”
“No,” Philpott, dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and purple tie, replied.
“Are you connected to the setting of the fire?”
Mr Orchard asked: “Do you know who did?”
“Do you have your suspicions?”
“I do,” Philpott answered.
Prosecutors allege the three defendants started the fire in a botched plan to frame Philpott’s ex-girlfriend Lisa Willis.
Miss Willis, 29, left the home she shared with him and his wife three months before the fire and took her five children with her, four of which were fathered by Philpott.