Police given more time to quiz Derby house fire parents as public provide 'useful' information


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The Independent Online

Several people have come forward with “extremely useful” information about an arson attack that killed six children, as police were given extra time to question their parents.

Mick Philpott and his wife Mairead were arrested yesterday morning on suspicion of murder in connection with the blaze at their home in Derby earlier this month.

Derbyshire Police now have until 10pm today to continue questioning a 55-year-old man and a 31-year-old woman from Derby, whom they have not formally named, after they were granted a 12-hour extension by a superintendent.

Jade Philpott, 10, and brothers John, nine, Jack, seven, Jessie, six, and Jayden, five, all died in the fire. A sixth sibling, Duwayne, 13, died of his injuries in Birmingham Children's Hospital two days after the blaze.

Police have revealed that petrol was used to start the blaze at the house in Victory Road, Allenton, on May 11.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cotterill yesterday appealed for more information after the couple's arrest, and said he had been very encouraged by the response.

"A number of people have come forward with additional information that has been extremely useful to the inquiry team," he said.

"They have taken on board my promise that we will treat them sensitively and in confidence.

"It is now vital that other people do the right thing and talk to us if they know anything that would help us further.

"I appreciate that it will be difficult for some people but they should put their trust in us. My appeal is do not wait any longer - come forward now."

Five days after the fire, Mr and Mrs Philpott faced the media at an emotional press conference.

Mr Philpott thanked those who had tried to rescue his children and spoke of how he and his wife had decided to donate Duwayne's organs for transplant, saying it "takes a bit of the pain away".

The 55-year-old, who is believed to have fathered 17 children, was said by police to have made "valiant" efforts to rescue his children during the blaze.

Dubbed "Shameless Mick" in 2007 after demanding a larger council house, he is well known in the local community and also appeared in a reality TV show alongside former government minister Ann Widdecombe.