An Irish mother is in mourning after her six children were killed in what is believed to be an arson attack on their family home in Derby.
Police are continuing to investigate the fire which claimed the lives of six of Mairead Philpott’s children.
An accelerant has been discovered at the house where five children died – and a sixth lost his desperate fight for life after three days in hospital.
Mairead, 31, and her husband Mick, 54, took the agonizing decision to switch off the life-support machine of their son Duwayne, 13.
His five siblings also perished in the fire: Jade, 10, John, nine, Jack, seven, Jessie, six, and Jayden Philpott, aged just five.
Mairead and Mick, who is the father of 17 children by various partners, were at Duwayne’s bedside when his life support machine was switched off.
Mairead Philpott, formerly Duffy, is the daughter of parents from Dublin who moved to the Derby area in the 1960s. An aunt from Dublin was also at the bedside when Duwayne died.
Duwayne was described by Christopher Reynolds, his head teacher at St Benedict Catholic School in Derby, as “a very pleasant young man”.
Mr Reynolds added: “He was gentle and caring. The things people remember about him are all nice, positive things. He genuinely was a really nice lad.”
Mick Philpott is reported to have made “valiant efforts’ to save his children after fire broke out in the early hours of the morning.
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cotterill said: “I am sad to confirm the news that Duwayne has died as a result of the injuries he suffered in the fire.
“My deepest sympathies go out to Mr and Mrs Philpott at this distressing time.
“The family has asked for privacy as they come to terms with the events and the loss of their children.”
Mr Philpott’s former mistress, Lisa Willis, 28, and her brother-in-law Ian Cousins, were arrested on suspicion of murder but later released without charge last weekend.
Mairead, Mick and his former mistress Lisa, had featured on the Jeremy Kyle show on account of their unconventional relationship.
The family was the subject of media scrutiny in 2006 when Mr Philpott asked the council for a larger house to accommodate his wife, mistress and 14 children.
It emerged Mr Philpott shared his cramped council home with his wife and mistress — and that both were pregnant by him again.
In 2007, ex-Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe lived with the family for a week as part of an ITV documentary.
Neighbours said that Mr Philpott’s mistress, Lisa Willis, moved out of the family home with five of the couple’s children just a week before the tragic blaze when he refused to divorce his wife and marry her.
Fr Alan Burbidge, 70, who is himself of Irish stock – his grandmother was from west Clare —has been parish priest in the area for over twenty years, and new the family well.
“They wouldn’t be frequent Mass-goers, but they would attend regularly, especially for Christenings, Holy Communion and so on,” he said.
Fr Burbidge remains totally un-judgmental about the unconventional nature of the Philpotts’ lifestyle.
“Their living circumstances might be a little unorthodox, but they are hearty, good folk, and their children were always well looked after; they always seemed happy kids. That is always my number one concern,” he said.
“We are looking after the spiritual wellbeing of our flock, but our priority is to look out for the children. Sadly, it seems nobody could save them from this awful fire.
“These are harrowing circumstances, and of course we have the challenge of the funerals coming up. No date has been set for them yet as the police investigation is ongoing. I believe they are pursuing a criminal investigation. This, of course, has added to the parents’ anguish.”
Fr Burbidge said prayers were said for the children at a special service in Derby and a candlelit vigil was held.
It has emerged that police have found traces of an accelerant believed to have been poured through the letterbox. They also found fingerprints on the outside of a window.