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For the past 11 months Mick and Mairead Philpott had lied, play-acted and sought to connive their way out of responsibility for their six children's death. Yesterday however a jury found that the married couple had started the blaze which killed their young family.
Returning six unanimous verdicts against the unemployed father of 17 and a similar number of majority decisions against his wife, the Philpotts and their friend Paul Mosley, 46, who was also convicted, now face life in jail when they are sentenced for manslaughter today.
There were angry scenes at Nottingham Crown Court at the end of the eight-week trial in which details of sex and drugs from the Philpotts' unconventional life together were replayed. Philpott, 56, was seen to say "it's not over yet" as he was led away whilst his 31-year-old wife stared at the floor and wept. Members of the public gallery hugged each other and sobbed as others shouted obscenities at the guilty couple forcing the judge to clear the court room.
The jury was not told that Mr Philpott - who was described as a controlling and manipulating figure - had a history of violence against women dating back to a 1978 attempted murder conviction for a frenzied stabbing attack against his former girlfriend and a serious assault on her mother. In a pre-trial hearing it emerged he had been sentenced to seven years and five years to run concurrently for the assault carried out in a jealous rage after she tried to end their relationship when he was a 21-year-old-soldier.
It can also now be reported that Mr Philpott had sought to bully volunteers and control a £15,000 funeral fund raised by the local community in Allenton, Derby, in the aftermath of the tragedy demanding money left over from the ceremony be paid out to him in Argos vouchers. Locals said he treated the fund as an opportunity to "get rich quick".
The jury took less than eight hours to reach their verdicts.
Jade Philpott, 10, and her brothers John, nine, Jack, eight, Jesse, six, Jayden, five, and Duwayne, 13 - all died from smoke inhalation when their parents set fire to the three-bed council house at 18 Victory Road in the early hours of the morning last May.
Derby City Council announced a serious case review into the actions of social services leading up to the tragedy although none of the children were subject to child protection plans or legal orders.
The prosecution argued that the fire was started in a bid to "frame" Mr Philpott's former lover Lisa Willis, 29, but it had gone "tragically and disastrously wrong" with temperatures in the hosue reaching 500C.
Ms Willis had lived with the couple along with her five children but walked out three months earlier resulting in a vicious custody battle that had been due to go to court on the morning of the blaze.
Derbyshire Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cotterill said it had been the most upsetting investigation he had even been taken part in.
"This is a shocking case for everyone involved. Six young children lost their lives needlessly in a fire and all our efforts have been focused on getting justice for those children," he said.
The families of both Mick and Mairead Philpott welcomed the verdicts.
In a statement read on behalf of Mr Philpott's sister Dawn Bestwick, who attended court every day she said: "Following today's verdict, we the family of Michael Philpott, believe justice has been served."
Mrs Philpott's family said: "We, Mairead's family, cannot describe the pain we feel … we are happy with the verdict."
THE CHILDREN WHO DIED
Duwayne, 13: A quiet and caring Derby County fan who loved to go to the match with his dad, playing music and learning the violin. The teenager was his siblings’ protector and was the only one to emerge from the fire still alive but died two days later in hospital.
Jade, 10: The Philpott’s first child together and their only daughter. Teachers said she was intelligent and always smiling. Her parents regarded her as a “little princess”. Her body led the children’s funeral cortege carried by a horse with pink feathers.
John, nine: Described as a “cheeky comedian” he was another avid Derby County fan said to have had a "daredevil personality" and who dreamed of being a soldier when he was older.
Jack, eight: The Philpott’s “blue-eyed boy” who loved to play on his Nintendo DS and watching Peppa Pig. The quietest of the children, he was described as "cute, cuddly and content with everything".
Jesse, six: Friends said he was fearless and always getting into scrapes with his brothers and coming in from the garden covered from head to toe in dirt. His mother called him her “little Irish stamper” because he was always storming off to his room
Jayden, five: Described by his mother as a “miracle baby born six weeks premature”. He was found dead in his school uniform because he never liked taking it off. Bouncy and hyperactive, he was mothered by his big sister Jade.Reuse content