Philpott sentencing for deaths of six children adjourned
Pair will now be sentenced tomorrow after being convicted of manslaughter
Mick Philpott and wife Mairead speak to the media at Derby Conference Centre, Derby following a fire at their home which claimed the lives of six of his children. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire
A couple who killed their six children in a house fire will have to wait until tomorrow to find out how long they will spend in prison after being convicted of manslaughter.
Mick and Mairead Philpott and their friend Paul Mosley were due to be sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court in England this afternoon by trial judge Mrs Justice Thirlwall but the judge adjourned the case because she wanted more time to consider sentences.
She said she had listened with care during the whole trial and added: “I want to reflect further before moving forward to the sentencing exercise.”
Philpott (56), his 32-year-old wife and 46-year-old Mosley were yesterday each found guilty by a jury of six separate counts of manslaughter following an eight-week trial.
The case was adjourned until 10.30am tomorrow. Earlier, the judge heard that Philpott had previously served time in prison for attempted murder and at the time of the blaze was on bail for a violent road rage incident. In 1978 he was jailed for seven years after he repeatedly stabbed a former girlfriend when she decided she no longer wanted to be in a relationship with him.
He also received a concurrent five-year sentence for grievous bodily harm with intent after he attacked the woman’s mother as she rushed to her daughter’s aid.
A week before the fatal fire which killed six children at the family home in Victory Road, Derby, Philpott had appeared in court and pleaded guilty to common assault but denied dangerous driving. He was awaiting trial.
The court heard that he punched another driver, whose teenage daughter was in the car, after Philpott swerved in front of him and forced him to stop because he believed he had pulled out in front of him at a roundabout.
In 1991 he received a two-year conditional discharge for assault occasioning actual bodily harm 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.
Anthony Orchard QC, representing Philpott, said his client’s conviction for attempting to murder his previous girlfriend was a “long time ago” and there was no evidence of anything like that being repeated. But the judge interrupted and told him: “There’s been violence in every single relationship, has there not?”
Prosecutors said the trio started the fire in an attempt to frame Philpott’s former girlfriend, 29-year-old Lisa Willis, after she left the family home with her children three months earlier. She and her five children, four of them fathered by Philpott, had lived with the couple and their six children at the family home for 10 years until she became unhappy with the domestic set-up.
Jurors heard that it could have been the desire to get her and the children, or an attempt to weaken her case in an upcoming court hearing over residency of the children, or even the hope of a bigger council house, which could have motivated the defendants to set the fire.
In mitigation today, the defendants’ barristers told the judge the Philpotts loved their children and never intended to cause them any harm. Mr Orchard said: “Despite Mr Philpott’s faults, he was a very good father and loved those children. All the witnesses, even Lisa Willis, agree on this. There’s no evidence at any stage that he deliberately harmed any of them.”
The fire was part of a plan which went “disastrously wrong”, Mr Orchard said, because they did not realise how quickly the fire would take hold at the semi-detached council house and leave them unable to rescue the sleeping children from their beds.
But the judge interjected and said: “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.
Shaun Smith QC, for Mrs Philpott, told the judge: “The entirety of the evidence in this case is that Mairead Philpott was an extremely good mother to all 11 children. No-one, we respectfully submit, can dispute the grief that she feels. Nobody can even understand it. It’s palpable. It has been visible.”
Her “real sentence”, he said, will be the fact that not only has she lost her children but that she can no longer be involved with any others when she is eventually released from prison. “She will be forever known as a child killer,” he said.
Mr Smith 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”.
He said: “They were well looked-after. They were well-nourished. They were happy children.”