Derby house fire trial: Mother 'breaks ranks' with husband who treated her 'like a slave'

 

A mother accused of killing her six children in a house fire at their family home “broke ranks” with her husband who is also alleged to have caused their deaths by starting the blaze, a court heard.

Under cross examination Mick Philpott was accused of being a “controlling” partner who treated his wife Mairead like a slave.

The couple along with friend Paul Mosley deny six counts of manslaughter in relation to the fire at the house at 18 Victory Road, Derby in May 2012.

But prosecutor Richard Latham QC told Mr Philpott: “Mairead has broken ranks with you. She is no longer sticking to the story.”

The QC said the unemployed driver was concerned only about himself and would use fake tears and pretend to collapse to get his own way. “This case is about you, isn't it? Me, me, me,” he claimed.

“You ruled number 18 with a rod of iron, didn't you? You wouldn't take dissent,” Mr Latham added.

Mr Philpott, who denied the claims, said he had not showered or bathed for 12 weeks prior to the fatal blaze.

He said traces of petrol were found on his clothes by police investigating the deaths because he rarely washed or changed and routinely wore the same boxer shorts and jogging bottoms.

“I try to stick to the ones I'm wearing because I don't do a lot of work,” he told the jury.

Mr Philpott insisted his relationship with Mairead, 31, was based on love - spelling out L-O-V-E for the benefit of the jury.

Under questioning from his wife's counsel, Shaun Smith, Mr Philpott denied subjugating his wife. “It's all about you, isn't it?” he was asked. “It's all about L-O-V-E - love,” Mr Philpott replied.

Mr Philpott denied trying to “blacken” his wife's name by claiming she took part in three-way sex sessions with their co-accused before and after the fire and smoking cannabis.

He also claimed she had sex with him and his mistress Lisa Willis, a mother of five, who lived with the family and their six children in the three bedroom house in the months before the tragedy.

Asked whether he had started the fire while his wife was asleep in the conservatory, Mr Philpott broke down and sobbed. “I love my kids and I would never endanger them,” he said.

During tense exchanges in the witness box he denied hurting Mrs Philpott, mother of the dead children, by bringing his mistress to live with them at the family house.

“Can you help who you fall in love with? … I didn't actually want two women in my life. It just happened and I regret it," said Mr Philpott, who has 17 children by various relationships. 

Mr Smith put it to him: ”You regarded her as your property, didn't you? Your slave? That's what she was, wasn't she?“

Mr Philpott replied by shaking his head.

Mr Smith alleged that Mairead was tasked with all the domestic duties - even after her husband's lover Lisa Willis moved in. Ms Willis had four children by Mr Philpott.

”She (Mairead) did everything in that house, didn't she, even when you were having a relationship with another woman? said Mr Smith.

Mr Philpott denied treating his wife as if he “owned her” insisting: “Mairead wasn't leaving, Mairead wasn't going anywhere.”

But Mr Smith said that his wife of seven years had nowhere to go - rejecting Mr Philpott's suggestion that she could have gone and lived with his elderly mother where he claimed the unemployed driver could continue to control her.

Mr Smith said there was a “pattern” to Mr Philpott's relationships in that he was attracted to younger women. Mairead was 19 when the couple met and he was 43. Lisa Willis was 16 or 17 when their affair started, the lawyer said.

“Each (was) isolated from their families by you,” said Mr Smith. Mr Philpott insisted Ms Willis was 18 when they met and denied trying to separate her from her family. He also denied being attracted to younger women who were at their “rock bottom”.

The court heard that Mr Philpott used to visit Ms Willis before she moved in. “It wasn't just sex, I was helping with the decorating as well,” he said.

He said that he had asked his wife's permission before moving his lover into the house.

Mr Philpott denied that Mairead was unhappy with the arrangement in which he slept with the women on alternate nights. “She sure didn't show it and she sure didn't act it,” he said.

The fatal fire which killed the children as they slept in their bedrooms occurred the day before a court hearing which was to settle the custody status of the four children Ms Willis's had with Mr Philpott.

She had sparked an acrimonious battle when she walked out on the house three months before the blaze.

Mr Smith told Philpott: “She (Lisa) escaped you, didn't she? Mairead had nowhere to escape to, did she? You know that, don't you, Mr Philpott?” Mr Philpott denied the allegations. The court has previously heard Mr Philpott admit to hitting both women when they clashed over disciplining his daughter.

The court was also told that money from both women's jobs was paid into his bank account along with the family's benefits. Philpott maintained the monies were paid into a 'family account'

The trial continues.

 

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Wonnacott dancing the pasadoble
TVStrictly Come Dancing The Result
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
BBC's Antiques Roadshow uncovers a TIE fighter pilot helmet from the 1977 Star Wars film, valuing it at £50,000
TV

TV presenter Fiona Bruce seemed a bit startled by the find during the filming of Antiques Roadshow

News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

Sport
Steven Caulker of QPR scores an own goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Liverpool
football
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past