Derby house fire trial: Mairead Philpott says it is 'possible' her husband Mick started the fatal blaze that killed their six children

Woman accused of killing her six children in fire at their home rejects accusations she was responsible for tragedy

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The Independent Online

The mother of six children who died in a house fire insisted she did not start the blaze but said she could not be sure her husband had not done so, a court heard.

Mairead Philpott rejected accusations from the prosecution that she was responsible for the tragedy claiming she did not know why there was petrol on her clothes, underwear or in a sink at the family home.  

Giving evidence for a second day at Nottingham Crown Court, Mrs Philpott said it was “possible” that her husband Mick had set the fire.

Under cross examination from prosecutor Richard Latham QC she was asked whether he could have crept out of bed and started the blaze.

“I honestly don't know. I can't rule out anybody - I just don't know who set the fire," she replied.

But she denied "working together as a team" with Mr Philpott to cover up their alleged involvement in the fire which killed the couple’s six children at their semi-detached home in Victory Road, Derby last May. Mrs Philpott, 31, Mick Philpott, 56 and their friend Paul Mosley, 46, all deny manslaughter.

Mr Latham questioned Mrs Philpott about traces of petrol of the sort alleged to have been used to start the blaze in the hallway of the family home which was said to have been found on her leggings, a thong and the sink. He asked: "What was going on with Total petrol in that sink that night?"

Mrs Philpott replied: "I don't know." She insisted she had been woken by a smoke alarm and knew nothing of what caused the fire.

The prosecution alleges that the Philpotts and Mr Mosley deliberately started the fire in an attempt to frame Lisa Willis which went “horribly wrong”.  Mr Philpot’s former mistress had walked out of the house with her five children three months before the fire sparking a bitter custody battle.

Mrs Philpott was asked about covert recordings made by police following the youngsters' deaths in which she discussed "sticking with the story". She said they were references to her having sex with Mosley and with strangers.

The court has previously heard that the three had sex on a snooker table at the house on the night of the blaze and again several times after the tragedy.

However she said this had nothing to do with lying about starting the fire. “It was about the sex," she told the court. "I didn't want to be disgraced in the papers. My children had just died - I was more bothered about my children."

Rejecting prosecution claims that she and her husband had demonstrated “deviousness” or that she was “amazingly calm” when the couple called 999 to alert the emergency services to the blaze, she said: "I was panicking, I just wanted to get to my children - I didn't know what was happening."

Jade Philpott, 10, John, nine, Jack, eight, Jesse, six, and Jayden, five, perished in the blaze. Duwayne, 13, died in Birmingham Children's Hospital days later.

The trial continues.