Parents found guilty over Derby fire deaths

Tuesday 02 April 2013 21.48
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Fire at Derby home killed five brothers and their sister
Fire at Derby home killed five brothers and their sister
The siblings were sleeping upstairs when the blaze broke out
The siblings were sleeping upstairs when the blaze broke out

The parents of six children who died in a house fire in England last year have been found guilty of their manslaughter.

Mick and Mairead Philpott were convicted by jurors at Nottingham Crown Court of the unlawful killing of the siblings in the blaze at the family home in Derby on 11 May.

A third defendant, 46-year-old Paul Mosley, was also found guilty of manslaughter by the jury following an eight-week trial.

Jade Philpott, ten, and her brothers John, nine, Jack, eight, Jesse, six, Jayden, five and 13-year-old Duwayne all died in the fire.

Mairead Philpott was mother to all six, while Mick Philpott was the father of five but had raised Duwayne as his own son.

All three will be sentenced tomorrow.

The children were asleep in their beds upstairs when the fire, which was set inside the semi-detached house by the front door, took hold in the early hours.

The blaze was part of a "plan" Philpott had to frame his former mistress Lisa Willis, 29, who had left the family home three months earlier.

She and her five children, four of whom were fathered by Philpott, had lived with the Philpotts and their six children for ten years before they left in February last year.

The fire happened at around 3.45am, just hours before Philpott and Ms Willis were due to appear at a pre-scheduled court hearing to discuss residency of their children.

Jurors heard the blaze was part of a botched plan to blame Ms Willis in an effort to get her and the children to return to the house on Victory Road.

She was arrested immediately after the fire, but was released with no further action.

Prosecutors said part of the motive could also have been the desire Philpott had for a bigger council house, or simply because Philpott wanted his children and girlfriend back in the family home.

During the trial the jury heard the plan the defendants devised was to get all six children into one bedroom at the back of the house so that when the fire started, they could be rescued through a window.

Prosecutor Richard Latham QC said the plan had "gone completely wrong" within two minutes because the fire was far bigger than the defendants expected.

Philpott and his wife rang 999 to ask for emergency services assistance on the night of the blaze.

The court was told that he was supposed to "act the hero and victim" and use a ladder propped up against the back of the house, smash the window, and get the children out.

The plan went wrong when he climbed the ladder but found the window shut.

He was unable to smash a large enough hole to get in, or to rescue the children because of the intense heat and thick black smoke generated by the fire.

The children were also not in one room together.

Firefighters found their bodies in each of the three upstairs bedrooms.