Philpott children were 'well looked-after and well nourished and happy' court told ahead of parents' sentencing

Mick and Mairead Philpott, found guilty yesterday with Paul Mosley on six counts of manslaughter for causing fire that killed children at the family home, defended today as 'good parents'

Lawyers for a couple who killed their six children by
deliberately setting fire to their house whilst they slept claimed they were
“very good” parents who provided “happy” lives for their offspring.

During mitigation at Nottingham Crown Court counsel for Mick and Mairead Philpott said they had never meant to harm their daughter or five sons aged between five and 13 who perished in the blaze at the family home in Derby last May.

Instead they described them as a couple broken by grief and parents who now faced a life of public opprobrium for their crimes. Once again there were emotional scenes in the courtroom with angry exchanges from the public gallery aimed at the defendants following media coverage of the case.

Mick and Mairead Philpott were found guilty of six counts of manslaughter on Tuesday along with their friend Paul Mosley, 46, in a bid to frame Mr Philpott’s former lover Lisa Willis as part of a bitter custody battle after she walked out of the family home. They will be sentenced tomorrow, Thursday.

Anthony Orchard QC, for Mr Philpott said: “All the witnesses, even Lisa Willis, agree on this. There's no evidence at any stage that he deliberately harmed any of them,” he said.

The barrister said his client’s bizarre behaviour in the wake of the blaze had been consistent with symptoms of extreme grief. "He will have to live with the hatred and hostility of the press and the public for the rest of his life," he added.

But Judge Mrs Justice Kate Thirlwall, interjected during defence arguments that Mr Philpott’s 1978 attempted murder conviction was “a long time ago” pointing out that all of the father of 17’s relationships had been violent.

It emerged that Mr Philpott, 56, was on bail at the time of the fire after admitting punching a driver in a road rage attack. In 1991 he received a two-year conditional discharge for assault after he headbutted a colleague; and in 2010 he was given a police caution after slapping his wife and dragging her outside by her hair.

Shaun Smith QC, for Mairead Philpott, said despite the unusual circumstances in which they were brought up, living for a time with their mother, father, their father's girlfriend and her five children – four of whom were fathered by Mr Philpott - the children were content.

He said there was no evidence "any of these children were in any sort of danger or peril prior to that night (of the fire) whatsoever."

But again the judge challenged the suggestion they would have come to no harm if the plan to rescue them from the flames had been successfully executed.

"If the plan had been successful the effect on the children would have been this, would it not - they would have been awoken in their beds with their house on fire and their father coming in to rescue them? A terrifying experience."," the judge said.

Mr Smith said his client – who had spent 12 of her 32 years with Mr Philpott - had “visible” and “palpable” symptoms of grief.

"The entirety of the evidence in this case is that Mairead Philpott was an extremely good mother to all 11 children,” he said. : "They were well looked-after. They were well nourished. They were happy children," he said.

Mrs Philpott was "filled her with more grief than one can imagine". The barrister argued that she would forever be known forever as a “child killer” and had been dominated by her husband. "She would do whatever he said, whatever he wanted," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing