THE IRISHWOMAN who publicly mourned the death of her six children in a house fire last year has been jailed for 17 years after being convicted of deliberately setting the blaze that killed them.
Michael and Mairead Philpott were both found guilty of manslaughter this week in the culmination of an on-going trial into the deaths of their six children, who perished in a fire at their home in Derby last May.
Family friend Paul Mosley was also convicted on all six counts of manslaughter at the trial at Nottingham Crown Court.
Described as the ‘driving force’ behind the fatally bungled arson attack on the family home, which he had hoped to pin on his ex-mistress, Michael Philpott was branded a “disturbingly dangerous man” by Judge Mrs Justice Thirlwall this week.
Yesterday she sentenced the 56-year-old father of 17 to life imprisonment, of which he must serve a minimum of 15 years.
His wife, 32-year-old Mairead Philpott, whose family hails from Co Dublin, and their friend Paul Mosley, 46, were both jailed for 17 years for assisting in the plot.
Both are expected to serve half that term.
Over the course of the trial the court heard that the trio started the fire in an attempt to frame Philpott’s ex, 29-year-old Lisa Willis, after she left the family home with her children three months earlier.
But their plot failed with devastating consequences when the blaze they deliberately sparked on May 11 moved quickly through the house in Victoria Road, trapping their six children.
Jade Philpott, 10, and her brothers John, nine, Jack, eight, Jesse, six, Jayden, five, and Duwayne, 13, all died as a result.
After convicting all three of the children’s manslaughter this week, Justice Thirlwall said: “You have each been convicted of six counts of manslaughter. Each count represents the death of a child. They died as a direct result of the fire set in the hallway of 18 Victory Road in the early hours of 11 May last year. All three of you are responsible for the deliberate setting of that fire. All three of you are responsible for those deaths.”
Family members in the public gallery applauded the judge for the sentences handed down to the Philpotts on Thursday. One claimed: “Die, Mick, Die”, another shouted “See you Mairead, Enjoy life on your own”.
Regarding the Irishwomen’s part in the death of her children, the Judge added: “As a result of what you did in the early hours of 11 May 2012 all your children lost their lives and you have lost all of your children. I have already made clear that this was Michael Philpott’s plan. I accept that he treated you as a skivvy or a slave, and you were prepared to put up with that. As became clear during the trial you were prepared to go to any lengths, however humiliating, to keep him happy.
She added: “You put Michael Philpott above your children and as a result they have died.”
Justice Thirlwall sentencing remarks in full:
I am not going to repeat the history. Nor do I need to reiterate how serious these offences are.
As a result of what you did in the early hours of 11 May 2012 all your children lost their lives and you have lost all of your children. I accept that you feel their loss profoundly and that your grief is real. It is clear from what has been said about you by Mr Smith [Shaun Smith, her QC] that your children were your route to fulfilment. You loved them and cared for them.
I have already made clear that this was Michael Philpott’s plan. I accept that he treated you as a skivvy or a slave, and you were prepared to put up with that. As became clear during the trial you were prepared to go to any lengths, however humiliating, to keep him happy.
At an early stage of the trial it appeared that you were entirely downtrodden by Michael Philpott to the extent that it appeared that you felt you had no choice but to do whatever he wanted in whatever way he wanted in any aspect of your lives together.
But as the evidence came out it was plain that this was not quite the position. This was put beyond doubt when you gave evidence.
You pointed out that you had stood up to him in the past. That is why when he asked you for a divorce on no fewer than three occasions you refused him.
That was a request you were simply not prepared to accommodate, whatever he said. It is inescapable therefore that when something was important enough to you, you were capable of exercising a choice which was not his choice.
These were your children; your first responsibility, surely, was to them. Instead you joined in with his plan, putting his obsession with Lisa above the safety of your children.
The reality of the plan you went along with and helped execute was that your children were to be frightened out of sleep in the middle of the night and rescued by their father from a fire that should never have been started.
The risks were obvious and overwhelming and anyone who has heard the harrowing wailing from you on the 999 call can hear your realisation that this had gone horribly wrong and your children were in mortal danger.
But by then it was too late and you bear your responsibility for that. You put Michael Philpott above your children and as a result they have died.
After the fire you threw your lot in with Michael Philpott. You supported him in his quest to get residence of the other children. You complied with his sexual demands to keep Paul Mosley onside.
You lied to the police and you stuck to the story, just as he asked you to, to the police and to the jury. You did not, I recognise, agree to lie about the relationship between Adam Taylor and Lisa Willis when Michael Philpott set about blaming him.
Before these offences you had committed no criminal offences. You now have convictions for six counts of the manslaughter of your children.
I am quite satisfied that a determinate sentence is appropriate in your case but it must reflect the magnitude of these offences.
The sentence I pass is one of 17 years’ imprisonment. Of that you will serve one half, at which point you will be released on licence.
If you commit any further offences during the operational period of the licence you will be liable to be recalled and may have to serve the balance of your sentence. Any time that you have spent on remand will be deducted from the period you are to serve.