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.

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
Life and Style
View of champagne glasses at a beach bar set up along the Croisette during the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes on May 17, 2013
food + drink(and for now, there's a clear winner)
News
people
News
people
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Irradiated turkey and freeze dried mash potato will be on the menu this thanksgiving
video
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?