A man who is alleged to have killed his six children in a house fire was accused today of treating his wife like a slave.
Michael Philpott, 56, was accused at Nottingham Crown Court of controlling his wife Mairead, 31, and treating her like a slave.
The pair, and a third defendant, Paul Mosley, are on trial for the manslaughter of their six children in a house fire at their home in Victory Road, Derby, on May 11 last year. All three deny the charges.
Today Shaun Smith, representing Mairead Philpott, asked his client’s husband in the witness box: “You regarded her as your property, didn’t you? Your slave. That’s what she was, wasn’t she?”
Philpott shook his head as Mr Smith went on.
The lawyer said: “She did everything in that house, didn’t she, even when you were having a relationship with another woman?
“Mairead wasn’t leaving, Mairead wasn’t going anywhere.
“You think you own her, don’t you?”
Shaking his head, Philpott replied: “No.”
Mr Smith said: “She didn’t actually have anywhere to go, did she?”
Philpott told the court: “She could have gone to my mam’s.”
“She could have gone to your mam’s, where you could keep an eye on her?,” Mr Smith said.
Philpott had lived at the house in Victory Road with his wife Mairead and their six children along with Lisa Willis and her five children for 10 years.
Miss Willis left the family home in February last year, taking her five children with her.
The court has heard that, on the day of the fatal blaze in May last year, Philpott was due to appear at a court hearing with Miss Willis over residency of the five children, four of whom Philpott fathered.
Today, Mr Smith told Philpott: “She (Lisa) escaped you, didn’t she?”
“No,” Philpott replied.
“Mairead had nowhere to escape to, did she? You know that, don’t you, Mr Philpott,” Mr Smith continued.
Philpott shook his head.
Mr Smith asked Philpott whether he saw “a pattern” to the women he was attracted to.
He listed the ages of Philpott’s former partners and the age Philpott was when he met them.
Mr Smith said: “Mairead 19? How old were you?”
Philpott replied: “43”
Mr Smith continued: “Lisa Willis 16/17?”
Philpott replied: “18”
Mr Smith added: “Each isolated from their families by you.”
Philpott replied: “Definitely not.”
Mr Smith asked Philpott what first attracted him to Mairead.
“Her age?” Mr Smith asked.
Philpott replied: “No, just attracted to each other.”
Mr Smith continued: “The fact she was at rock bottom, the fact she was isolated from her family?”
Philpott shook his head.
During his second day in the witness box, Philpott told the court his wife’s and mistress’s wages were paid into a bank account for his family and not for him.
The court has heard that his wife and former mistress paid their wages and benefits into an account controlled by Philpott when they all lived together at the house in Victory Road.
Philpott told the court today: “I didn’t class it as my bank account. It’s a family account.”
Philpott rejected suggestions that Mairead was ``hurt'' that he had brought another woman into their relationship.
He told Mr Smith that he asked her permission to set up the arrangement.
Philpott told the jury: “Can you help who you fall in love with?”
He added: “I didn’t actually want two women in my life. It just happened and I regret it.”
Philpott went on: “It might sound strange to you but I asked Mairead’s permission. And I got it.”
He told the court: “We was one happy family.”
Mr Smith suggested that his client was hurt by Philpott bringing in Miss Willis.
Philpott replied: “She sure didn’t show it and she sure didn’t act it.”
He agreed that the arrangement was that he slept with the two women on alternate nights.
And he told the jury that, before Miss Willis moved in, he would go round to her house for sex, leaving Mairead to look after the children.
He said: “It wasn’t just sex, I was helping with the decorating as well.”