Tributes were paid to the six children killed in a house fire at their funerals in Derby.
Neither their mother, Irish woman Mairead Philpott, nor father, Mike Philpott, attended the funeral. Both have been charged with the children’s murders and are due to go on trial in January.
It was felt that, with feelings running very high in the Derby area, the presence of the two parents would have represented too great a security risk.
It was also felt by those organising and officiating at the funeral that the focus would have moved from the dead children to those accused of killing them.
The hearse carrying the body of Jade Philpott, 10, led the cortege with a horse with pink feathers and her name in pink on the white coffin.
Five more hearses, each with blue feathers, followed, carrying the bodies of her brothers John, nine, Jack, eight, Jessie, six, Jayden, five, and Duwayne, 13, to St Mary’s Catholic Church in Derby town centre.
In the order of mass, Duwayne was described as being charming and caring. The 13-year-old was said to have taken on the role of ‘protector’ of his younger siblings and enjoyed going to Derby County football games.
Jack was described as ‘a real pretty boy’ with bright blue eyes, who loved to spend most of his time on his Nintendo DS and watching Peppa Pig.
The youngest Jayden, 5, described as a bouncy and hyperactive boy, who always wanted to have fights with his older brothers.
Rose petals were thrown over the coffins as they were placed back in the horse-drawn carriages after the service for the two-mile journey to their final resting place in a cemetery in Chaddesden.
A full requiem mass was conducted by Fr Alan Burbidge, who has roots in west Clare.
He has known the family for over 12 years since baptising Duwayne 12 years ago, and has always spoken very highly of the children, praising their friendliness and popularity with schoolmates.
The service heard tributes from both children, family and friends.
A death notice placed in the Derby Telegraph by family members read: “They all touched the hearts of so many. Wonderful brothers and a beautiful special sister of David, Richard, Michaela, Mikey, Aiden, Jordon, Shareen, Katrina, Kirk, Yawrey and Josh.”
The eldest of Mr Philpott’s 17 children have been at the forefront of planning the service after local people raised more than £13,000 to pay for the funerals.
Meanwhile a 45-year-old man has been questioned by police in connection with the fire.
Derbyshire Police said the man was arrested a week ago and later released on police bail.
Including the Philpotts, he is the fifth person to have been arrested in connection with the tragic blaze.
Shortly after the fire, police arrested a 38-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman who were released without charge the following day.
Detectives believe the fire was started using petrol close to the front door of the family home in Victory Road, Allenton.
An inquest into the deaths was opened at Derby Coroner’s Court last month by coroner Dr Robert Hunter and adjourned pending the murder trial.