Philpott: What judge told couple who killed their children
- 4 April 2013
- From the section UK
A judge has sentenced Mick Philpott to life for killing six of his children in a fire at his Derby house.
He was convicted of manslaughter along with his wife, Mairead, and friend Paul Mosley, who were told they would serve half of their 17-year sentences.
Mrs Justice Thirlwall told Mick Philpott he was "a disturbingly dangerous man" and the "driving force" behind the plot.
Here is a selection of her comments in more detail.
Attitude to women
You [Mick Philpott] controlled and manipulated those women as you had controlled and manipulated their predecessors. They ran the household and looked after all the children. They went out to work. Their wages and their benefits went into your account. You controlled how money was spent.
These two young women were not even permitted to have a front door key. I accept that the level of physical violence had reduced in recent years, but the level of control, aggression and fear most certainly did not.
Women were your chattels, there to look after you and your children (for that is how you describe them all). You bark orders and they obey. Witness after witness described the dynamics in your household. You were king-pin, no one else mattered.
I am quite satisfied that for you the principal purpose of your many children is to reflect on you. Their needs desires and aspirations were very low on your list of priorities, if indeed they featured at all.
You craved attention, you enjoyed the limelight, you courted publicity. You were and remain the centre of your world and it is plain that you require everyone in your life, but particularly the women, to make sure that you remain at the centre of their world.
You so arranged your life and theirs so that everything was done for the pleasure of Michael Philpott.
It has been said on your behalf that you were a good father. I cannot give that description to a man who acted as you did.
Ever since the fire your life has been a performance for the public and the police, and then in this court. Your conduct has been punctuated by collapses and shows of distress designed to evoke sympathy where none is merited, designed to manipulate emotion.
I accept you have lost six children. I very much regret that everything about you suggests that your grief has very often been simulated for the public gaze.
I accept that he treated you [Mairead Philpott] as a skivvy or a slave. As became clear during the trial you were prepared to go to any lengths, however humiliating, to keep him happy.
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.
These were your children. Your first responsibility, surely, was to them.
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.
The first relationship with which I am concerned was a relationship with a girl in her teens. You [Mick Philpott] were in your 20s.
The relationship was characterised by violence; there were repeated beatings. You were sure that she was having affairs and would come back from your posting in the army to check on her, repeatedly.
Eventually she summoned the courage to bring your relationship to an end. You broke into her house, armed yourself with a knife and went to her bedroom where you stabbed her repeatedly in a ferocious attack which left her with life-threatening injuries from which she has never fully recovered.
You were convicted of attempted murder and wounding with intent.
It is clear... that you have repeatedly used that conviction as a means of controlling other women, terrifying them as to what you might do to them if they did not follow your will.
You subjected your (first) wife to physical violence throughout your relationship. She never reported anything to the police - she was too afraid to do so.
She knew of your past. She believed she could not leave you. She simply hoped that the time would come when you would leave her.
And that time came when you took up with a very young Heather Kehoe. She was 16 when she ran away with you. You were in your 40s.
She spoke tellingly of life with you; sometimes you were charming, always domineering, always in control. You controlled her through physical and sexual violence, threats and emotional abuse.
She, like the two women before her, speaks of the life-long damage she has suffered as a result of her relationship with you.
The other partner
You were obsessed with Lisa Willis. Indeed it was plain to me when you were giving evidence over more than three days in the witness box that you still are.
She left you, taking her children with her. She did not dare tell you she was leaving. She told Mairead Philpott that she was taking her children swimming. She and the children left with the clothes they stood up in and their swimming things.
You soon realised what had happened and you set about trying to bring her back. The evidence shows that you tried sweet-talking her. You tried cajoling and then bullying her.
She would not come back. You could not stand the fact that she had crossed you. You were determined to make sure that she came back and you began to put together your plan.
The jury was spared some of the most harrowing details of the removal of the children from 18 Victory Road. Mercifully their deaths were swift and, it would seem, without pain.
No-one could have listened to the evidence of the firefighters and not be moved by what they had done and what they had seen in their efforts to combat the fire and save the children.
Your neighbours were traumatised by what they saw; several of them tried to help. Their bravery was required as a result of your callous stupidity. It is clear that they have been shattered, as has the local community generally.
You [Paul Mosley] enjoyed the attention that you gained from your proximity to the fire. You boasted of being arrested and bailed for six counts of murder.
You, too, are responsible for the deaths of six children. As a result you have lost all contact with your own children.
Unsurprisingly your former partner wants nothing to do with you in the light of all that has become known about your conduct in the course of this trial.