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.

 

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine