Mairead Philpott gives evidence at manslaughter trial
Mother accused of causing the death of her six children abused as a child
Court drawing of Mick Philpott in the witness box at Nottingham Crown Court where he is accused of killing his six children in a house fire. Photograph: Elizabeth Cook/PA
A mother accused of the manslaughter of her six children in a fire at the family home has described her husband as her “guardian angel”.
Mairead Philpott (31) told a jury at Nottingham Crown Court she was at “rock bottom” when she met her husband and co-accused Mick (56) and described him as her “guardian angel”.
Giving evidence in her own defence today, Mrs Philpott denied setting the fire at her home in Victory Road, Derby, last May and said there was no plan to start a blaze with Mick and co-accused Paul Mosley (46).
The 31-year-old is on trial at Nottingham Crown Court for the manslaughter of her six children along with her husband and Mr Mosley. The three deny the charges.
Today Mrs Philpott, who said she had dreamed of being a ballerina and then of working in childcare, described her troubled childhood to the court.
In the witness box, Mrs Philpott told the court she was abused as a child, forced out of school by bullies and raped in her teenage years. She then fell into an abusive relationship during which her boyfriend shaved her hair off to stop her going out.
She told the court the father of her first child left her when she told him she was pregnant with Duwayne aged 16.
“How did you see Michael at the beginning?” Mr Smith asked her.
“He was my guardian angel,” Mrs Philpott told the jury. “He loved me and cared for me and made me feel safe.”
The court has heard how the couple shared an unconventional lifestyle after Philpott’s mistress Lisa Willis and her five children, four fathered by him, moved in with them and their children.
The three adults and their 11 children lived in the house for 10 years before Miss Willis moved out in February last year, taking her children with her.
Prosecutors have alleged Mr Philpott and the two co-accused set the fire at their home to frame his former mistress, whom he was due to face in court on the day of the fatal blaze to discuss custody of the five children.
Today Mrs Philpott told the court she was initially “hurt” when her husband began the relationship with Miss Willis but agreed because she was scared of losing what she had.
“I was scared of losing what I had, my family, my home,” Mrs Philpott told the court.
But she told the court after Miss Willis moved into the family home, they became “a happy family” and the pair were like sisters, with Miss Willis being a bridesmaid at her wedding to Mick Philpott.
Mrs Philpott told the court the family grew in size not because of the benefits, which she admitted were paid into her husband’s account along with her wages, but because of their “love of children”.
Even when her husband asked her for a divorce, Mrs Philpott stayed at the house and did not think about leaving because she “loved him”, she told the court today.
When Miss Willis left the home, Mrs Philpott was upset along with the children and her husband, she told the court.
She said she would cuddle her children and cry with them and hoped Miss Willis would walk back through the door.
“I wanted her and the children back,” Mrs Philpott told the jury.
The court has heard covert recordings taken in the prison van and hotel room following the couple’s arrest in which Mr Philpott is heard to tell his wife to make sure she is “sticking to the story”.
Prosecution allege there was a plan for a fire to be set at their house and for Mr Philpott to act the “hero and victim” by rescuing the six children from a back bedroom window.
This afternoon Mrs Philpott described the moment she found out her children were dead at the hospital as having her “insides torn out”.
Earlier she had been asked to describe the children to the court.
She described Duwayne as “quiet and caring”, Jade as her “princess”, and Jesse as an “Irish stamper”, because he stomped around the house.
Mrs Philpott continued describing John as a “cheeky comedian”, Jack as her “blue eyed boy” and Jayden as her “miracle baby” because he was born six weeks’ premature.
Jade Philpott (10), John (9), Jack (8), Jesse (6) and Jayden (5) perished in the fire last May. Duwayne (13) died in Birmingham Children’s Hospital days later.
Today Mr Smith asked her: “Have you absolutely anything to do with the death of your children?”
Mrs Philpott replied: “No.”
The trial, which is in its sixth week, was adjourned and will resume on Thursday morning.