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.

 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Kim Sears is reported to have directed abuse at Berdych
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee