Derby house fire trial: Extraordinary account of drug use and swinging emerges as Mick Philpott gives evidence

 

A father accused of starting the fire in which his six children died said he had sex and smoked cannabis to blot out the horror of the blaze.

Mick Philpott, 56, put his head in his hands and slumped forward, doubling up and slipping out of sight in the witness box, as he gave evidence in his defence at the manslaughter trial.

“I was finding it very hard to cope. Having sex and smoking cannabis was one way of blocking it out. It was my idea not my wife’s,” he told Nottingham Crown Court.

The unemployed driver recalled feeling “hysterical” as he tried at first to punch and then smash through an upstairs window with a child’s tennis racquet in a bid to rescue the six children who were asleep at the family home in Victory Road, Derby, last May when the fire started.

Mr Philpott described how he and his wife Mairead were woken by the smoke alarm shortly after 2am.

He said he spotted an “orange glow” and on realising the house was alight he thought “my kids”. After failing to reach the children’s bedrooms upstairs he got dressed and used a ladder to climb to a first floor window.

“I was hysterical. How do you explain trying to get into your babies? You can’t explain it,” he said.

Earlier Mr Philpott, wearing a dark suit and a purple tie, described how he and his wife Mairead, 31, had spent the evening of the blaze with friend Paul Mosley, 46. All three deny six charges of manslaughter in relation to the fire.

The jury was told how Mr Philpott drove to a house to purchase cannabis for Mr Mosley. Later, after playing snooker with his friend whilst his wife watched television and made cups of coffee, the three engaged in a sexual act of which he said he was now “ashamed”. 

He said the night of the fire was the first time the trio had had sex together. They were to go on to do it “three or four” times after the blaze including one occasion which was captured on a police surveillance tape, the court heard. “It was something that happened and it shouldn’t have happened but I’m not happy,” he said.

Mr Philpott also said that the couple had been “dogging” previously in which they would be watched and watch other couples having sex.

On one occasion Mairead had become pregnant after having sex with a stranger and underwent an abortion, he said. Mr Philpott said he had been too ashamed to tell police about his sexual behaviour and drug taking.

Giving evidence the father of 17 admitted that neighbours found his living arrangements with his wife, mistress and their 11 children “disgusting”.

He said he regretted previous television appearances on Jeremy Kyle and with Ann Widdecombe after which they received death threats and people began to shout at him and his family in the streets.

Mr Philpott said he decided to take part in the programmes because he needed a bigger house.  "They (people) called them (the children) brats, scum of the earth," Mr Philpott said.

Under questioning from Anthony Orchard QC he conceded that he was not a shy man and that he often made enemies with people - until they got to know him, he claimed.

“I come across as too strong, too powerful. I have always been a happy go lucky guy,” he said.

Mr Philpott denied controlling and bullying the two women with whom he lived. Both went to work. He drove them to their jobs and the children to school each day whilst undertaking “general fatherly duties” such as playing snooker, darts and teaching the children to write, he said.

Both women’s wages were paid into his bank account along with the family’s benefit payments. But he told the jury that they had access to money and were free to come and go as they pleased. “My wallet was always left on the side with the bank cards in it. They never had to ask for money,” he said.

Mairead did the bulk of the housework and childcare, he said, whilst his “bond” with his mistress Lisa Willis, who had five children – four by him - had become stronger until they were “inseparable”.

He would spend the day with his wife whilst sleeping with his mistress in a caravan parked outside the home. “I treated her (Lisa) like a queen," he said.

However, she eventually left him in the months leading up to the blaze taking the children with her despite him having asked his wife “three or four times” for a divorce.

Mr Philpott and Ms Willis became embroiled in a battle for custody of the children. They were due to go to court on the morning of the blaze. Ms Willis had previously obtained a non-molestation order against her former lover.

At the time of the fire, which was started by petrol poured in the hallway of the house late at night, the Philpotts and their six children were content in the three bedroom house, he said.

Jade, 10, John, nine, Jack, eight, Jesse, six, and Jayden, five, died during the blaze. Their brother Duwayne, 13, was taken to Derby Royal Hospital and transferred to Birmingham Children's Hospital but died three days later.

The trial continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders