Parents held over arson death of children

The parents of six children killed in an arson attack on their home have been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Mick Philpott, 55, and his wife Mairead, 31, were detained in connection with the attack on the house in Derby.

The victims, whose ages ranged from 13 to five, died after the blaze on May 11.

Philpott, said to have fathered 17 children, had made a tearful appeal at a police press conference after the blaze on May 11, repeatedly pausing to compose himself.

Derbyshire Police said a 55-year-old man and a 31-year-old woman from Derby were arrested but did not name them. Petrol had been poured through the family’s letterbox at the house in Victory Road, Allenton, and set alight.

Jade Philpott, 10, and brothers John, nine, Jack, seven, Jessie, six, and Jayden, five, all perished in the blaze, while Duwayne Philpott, 13, died of his injuries in Birmingham Children’s Hospital two days’ later.

Announcing yesterday’s arrests Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cotterill said: “I suspect there may still be people with crucial information who have not yet come forward to speak to us.

“In view of the arrests, I would urge anyone who may have been holding back, not felt comfortable to voice their concerns or not had the confidence, to do so now.

“They have my personal reassurance that we will deal with their information sensitively.

“We still need information to help us in this inquiry.

“The latest arrests are just one step further in the investigation.

“It is absolutely vital that if you know anything you think could help us, come forward now, do not wait any longer. It is important that we find justice for these six young children.”

Mr Cotterill added: “Although the fire happened more than two weeks ago, this is a complex inquiry and it will take time for us to piece together the events from that tragic evening.

“I know this case has deeply affected the local community and residents want answers as to what happened and why.

“But I would ask them to be patient and to continue to show the excellent support they have given us to date.”

The force said it was increasing its presence on Victory Road with a mobile police station returning to the area along with extra patrols. It said forensic examinations were continuing at the house.

Mr Philpott and his wife faced the media five days after the fire.

Mr Philpott repeatedly wiped away tears as he thanked those who tried to rescue his children and members of the local community for their support.

Talking to reporters for about two and a half minutes, Mr Philpott repeatedly paused to compose himself and said he and his wife had decided to donate Duwayne’s organs for transplant.

“That makes us happy and it takes a bit of the pain away,” he said.

In the aftermath of the fire, police said Mr Philpott made “valiant” efforts to rescue his children during the blaze.

Said to have fathered 17 children, Mr Philpott is well known in the local community because of media reports about his large family.

Mr Philpott was dubbed “Shameless Mick” in 2007 after demanding a larger council house.

He later appeared in a reality TV show alongside former government minister Ann Widdecombe.

A mobile police van was parked outside the Philpotts’ semi-detached house yesterday.

A uniformed officer stood guard outside the property, which was taped off.

Numerous floral tributes left following the blaze still lay outside the house.

At a press conference yesterday afternoon Mr Cotterill said the couple, who he did not name, were arrested together in Derby city centre.


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