Court finds parents guilty over childrens' fire deaths

The parents of six children who died in a house fire in England were today found guilty of their manslaughter.

Court finds parents guilty over childrens' fire deaths

The parents of six children who died in a house fire in England were today found guilty of their manslaughter.

Mick and Mairead Philpott were convicted by jurors at Nottingham Crown Court of the unlawful killing of the six siblings in the blaze at the family home in Victory Road, Derby, on May 11 last year.

A third defendant, 46-year-old Paul Mosley, was also found guilty of manslaughter by the jury following an eight-week trial.

All three will be sentenced tomorrow.

As the jury delivered its verdicts in respect of Philpott, he stood in the dock staring straight ahead with his hands clasped in front of him.

As the court heard guilty verdicts in respect of his wife, he shook his head and she looked down at the floor and fought back tears while clutching a tissue in both her hands.

Mosley showed no emotion as he heard the guilty verdicts.

Before leaving the dock, as the judge rose for a short break after emotional outbursts in the packed public gallery, Philpott, wearing a grey suit, white shirt and pink tie, crossed himself and was heard to say: “It’s not over yet.”

People in the public gallery erupted in tears and shouts as the verdicts came in.

Members of the public hugged one another as they sobbed.

During the trial, the court heard that the six youngsters – Jade Philpott, 10, and her brothers John, nine, Jack, eight, Jesse, six, Jayden, five, and Duwayne, 13 – all died as a result of the petrol-fuelled blaze that tore through their three-bed council house.

The children were asleep in their beds upstairs when the fire, which was set inside the semi-detached house by the front door, took hold in the early hours.

The blaze was part of a “plan” Philpott had to frame his former mistress Lisa Willis, 29, who had left the family home three months earlier.

She and her five children, four of whom were fathered by Philpott, had lived with the Philpotts and their six children for 10 years before they left in February last year.

The fire happened at around 3.45am on May 11, just hours before Philpott, who was father to a total of 17 children by five different women, and Miss Willis were due to appear at a pre-scheduled court hearing to discuss residency of their children.

The court date was postponed following the fire.

Jurors heard the blaze was part of a botched plan to blame Miss Willis, who was arrested immediately after the fire but quickly released with no further action, in an effort to get her and the children to return to Victory Road.

Prosecutors said part of the motive could also have been the desire Philpott had for a bigger council house, or simply because Philpott wanted his children and girlfriend back in the family home.

During the trial the jury heard the plan the defendants devised was to get all six children into one bedroom at the back of the house – they usually slept scattered across the three bedrooms while the adults slept in the conservatory or in a caravan on the driveway of the property – so that when the fire started, they could be rescued through a window.

Prosecutor Richard Latham QC said the plan had “gone completely wrong” within two minutes because the fire was far bigger than the defendants expected.

Philpott and his wife rang 999 to ask for emergency services assistance on the night of the blaze. The majority of the emotive call was played to the court and left Philpott doubled over and sobbing in the witness box as he listened.

The court was told that he was supposed to “act the hero and victim” and use a ladder propped up against the back of the house, smash the window, and get the children out.

The plan went wrong when he climbed the ladder but found the window shut and he was unable to smash a large enough hole to get in, or to rescue the youngsters because of the intense heat and thick black smoke generated by the fire.

The children were also not in one room together. Firefighters found their lifeless bodies in each of the three upstairs bedrooms.

Samantha Shallow, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: ``Today's verdict shows that the children died as a result of the actions of Michael and Mairead Philpott and Paul Mosley when they set the fire.

“It was started as a result of a plan between the three of them to turn family court proceedings in Mr Philpott’s favour. It was a plan that went disastrously and tragically wrong.

“This has been a challenging and harrowing case to prosecute. I am grateful that so many people from the local community came to court and gave evidence. This cannot have been easy and I would like to thank them for coming forward and enabling us to get to the truth.

“Amid all the details of the defendants’ personal lives that have come out in court, it should not be forgotten that at the heart of this case were the deaths of six innocent children.”

“I extend the condolences of the whole prosecution team to the family and friends of the six children for their tragic loss.”

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