Derby fire accused ‘hadn’t bathed for three months’

Michael Philpott sobbed in the court as he gave evidence yesterday. Picture: PA
Michael Philpott sobbed in the court as he gave evidence yesterday. Picture: PA
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A MAN accused of killing six of his children in a house fire has told a court that he had not bathed for three months.

Michael Philpott, 56, said he had not used the shower or bath in his home for around three months before the blaze last May and rarely changed his clothes.

He told Nottingham Crown Court yesterday he had lent a petrol strimmer and a can of petrol to a neighbour in the days leading up to the fire.

During the trial, which is in its fifth week, the jury has been told that traces of petrol were found on Philpott’s clothing.

Philpott and his 31-year-old wife Mairead are on trial for the manslaughter of their six children along with a third defendant, Paul Mosley, in a house fire at their home in Victory Road, Derby, on 11 May last year. All three deny the charges.

Philpott told the court he changed his T-shirts daily but would regularly wear the same boxer shorts and Derby County black bottoms.

“I try to stick to the ones I’m wearing because I don’t do a lot of work,” Philpott told the court.

Shaun Smith QC, representing Mrs Philpott, accused Philpott of treating his wife like a slave. He asked Philpott: “You regarded her as your property, didn’t you? Your slave. That’s what she was, wasn’t she?”

The lawyer said: “She did everything in that house, didn’t she, even when you were having a relationship with another woman?

“Mairead wasn’t leaving, Mairead wasn’t going anywhere. You think you own her, don’t you?”

Shaking his head, Philpott replied: “No.”

The court has heard Philpott had lived at the house in Victory Road with his wife Mairead and their six children along with Lisa Willis and her five children for ten years. Miss Willis left the family home in February last year, taking her five children with her.

The court has heard that, on the day of the fatal blaze in May last year, Philpott was due to appear at a court hearing with Miss Willis over residency of the five children, four of whom Philpott fathered.

Yesterday, Mr Smith told Philpott: “She (Lisa) escaped you, didn’t she?”

“Mairead had nowhere to escape to, did she? You know that, don’t you, Mr Philpott,” Mr Smith continued.

Philpott rejected suggestions that Mairead was “hurt” that he had brought another woman into their relationship.

Philpott told Mr Smith that he asked her permission to set up the arrangement and told the jury: “Can you help who you fall in love with?” He added: “I didn’t actually want two women in my life. It just happened and I regret it.”

Philpott told the court “we was one happy family” and agreed that the arrangement was that he slept with the two women on alternate nights.

And he told the jury that, before Miss Willis moved in, he would go round to her house for sex, leaving Mairead to look after the children. Later, Mr Smith accused Philpott of trying to “blacken” his wife’s name with claims about sex and drugs.

The court has heard that the couple were involved in a sex act with co-accused Paul Mosley in a hotel following the fatal fire at their home.

But yesterday Philpott claimed there were other occasions while they were staying in the hotel that Mairead had sex with Mosley without his knowledge.

He also claimed that he, his wife and Miss Willis had been lovers while they lived together at Victory Road.

Mr Smith asked Philpott whether he had started the fire while his wife was asleep in the conservatory.

“Did you start the fire or arrange the fire while Mairead was asleep?” he asked.

Philpott paused for a few moments before he said, sobbing: “I love my kids and I would never endanger them.”

The trial continues.