Philpott tells of bid to save children from fire

Floral tributes adorn the pavement outside a house in Allenton after a fire claimed the lives of six children on  Derby. Picture: Getty
Floral tributes adorn the pavement outside a house in Allenton after a fire claimed the lives of six children on Derby. Picture: Getty
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A FATHER accused of killing his six children in a house fire ­collapsed and sobbed in the ­witness box as a court heard a 999 call made by him and his wife as the blaze took hold.

Sitting in the court as he gave evidence, Mick Philpott, 56, doubled over and wept loudly as Nottingham Crown Court heard the desperate call made to emergency services as the children were trapped inside the house.

Sitting in the dock his wife Mairead, 31, began to cry.

Six siblings died in the fire: Jade, ten, and brothers John, nine, Jack, eight, Jesse, six, and Jayden, five. Their brother Duwayne, 13, was taken to Derby Royal Hospital and transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital but died three days later.

Philpott, his wife, and a third defendant Paul Mosley, 46, have all denied six separate counts of manslaughter.

Shortly before the 999 call was played yesterday, Philpott described trying to get to his children in the upstairs bedrooms as the fire began to engulf the house in Derby, early on 11 May last year.

He said he and his wife were sleeping naked in the conservatory when woken by the sound of the fire alarm going off.

They went into the kitchen and saw an “orange light” that seemed to be coming out of the living room, he said.

Anthony Orchard QC, defending Philpott, asked him: “What was your first thought when you realised there was a fire?”

Philpott replied: “My kids.”

“What did you want to do in relation to your children?”

Philpott fought back tears as he replied: “I wanted to get to them.”

He said he could feel the warmth from the fire and hear a crackling sound but was unable to get out of the front of the house, so he and his wife headed towards the back.

Philpott said he picked up a phone and rang 999 and put on his boxer shorts and tracksuit bottoms before heading outside. He used a ladder to climb up to the bedroom window where the children were sleeping but was unable to smash the glass, so returned to the house where he found a children’s tennis racket.

Asked how he felt when he could not smash the glass, he ­replied: “I was hysterical. How do you explain trying to get in to your babies? You can’t ­explain it.”

Philpott eventually broke the glass with a wrench but said he could not get in because the hole was no bigger than his head.

Holding a tissue to his face and his voice breaking, Philpott said: “I wanted to get to them but I couldn’t.”

Members of the packed public gallery also wiped away tears as they heard the 999 call and screams of Mrs Philpott as she and her husband talked to the emergency services operator.

Earlier, Philpott said he had nothing to do with starting the fire. Prosecutors allege the three defendants started the fire in a botched plan to frame Philpott’s ex-girlfriend Lisa Willis.

Miss Willis, 29, left the home she shared with him and his wife three months before the fire and took her five children with her, four fathered by Philpott. Philpott told the court he thought the fire had been started by someone else to get at him.

The court heard that on the night of the fire Philpott, his wife and Mosley had engaged in a sex act together. Philpott also said he was an occasional user of cannabis and had smoked after the deaths of the children.

The trial continues.