Derby fire deaths: Father 'physically abusive to ex-girlfriend'

The defendants in court on Tuesday 12 February
Image caption The three defendants each deny six counts of manslaughter

An ex-girlfriend of a man accused of killing six of his children in a fire told a court he was physically abusive when she did not get pregnant again.

Heather Kehoe had two children with Mick Philpott after their relationship began two weeks after she turned 16.

She met Mr Philpott when she was 14 and he was 37, jurors at Nottingham Crown Court were told.

Mr Philpott, his wife Mairead and co-accused Paul Mosley each deny six counts of manslaughter.

Jade Philpott, 10, and her brothers John, nine, Jack, eight, Jesse, six, and Jayden, five, all died after fire engulfed their home in Victory Road, Allenton. Their brother Duwayne, 13, died three days later in hospital.

Image caption Five of the children died at the house and the eldest died in hospital

It is alleged they started the fire in an attempt to frame Mr Philpott's former mistress Lisa Willis, who had lived with the pair, but had left and started custody proceedings.

Ms Kehoe told jurors she had two sons with Mr Philpott, and when asked how many children he wanted, she said: "Eleven was the number."

She said there was a joke about that figure. "It was something about a football team or reserves," she said.

'Not a real woman'

But Ms Kehoe described Mr Philpott becoming physically and verbally abusive towards her and comparing her with his ex-wife, Pamela Lomax, when she did not have a baby girl.

"He said that I was not a real woman because I could not give him the children he wanted and Pam had given him a girl, and I would never be half the woman Pam was."

Ms Kehoe told the court Mr Philpott did not work regularly and her wages would be paid into his bank account, which was controlled by him.

She rarely answered back if they argued, and she was often thrown out into the back garden as punishment, said Ms Kehoe.

The court was told she would curl up in the outside toilet until he decided to let her back into the house until the day she decided she had had enough and fled over the back fence.

Ms Kehoe's final remark as she gave evidence was: "This is not about revenge. It's about people needing to know what sort of person he is."

'Probably scared'

At one stage there had been 11 children living in the house in Victory Road - six were Mick and Mairead Philpott's, four were those of Miss Willis and Mr Philpott and one was another child of Miss Willis's.

Earlier, Lisa Willis, who had also lived in the house but at a later date, was cross-examined by Shaun Smith QC, for Mrs Philpott.

Ms Willis said she and Mairead Philpott had been like sisters, they were close, they confided in each other and they had alternated the nights they spent with Mr Philpott.

Ms Willis told the court she and Mr Philpott had sex for the first time when Mrs Philpott was out shopping.

"Did you tell Mairead about it when she got back from shopping or did you keep it a secret?" Mr Smith asked her.

"I can't remember," Miss Willis replied.

She told jurors that it was Mr Philpott who mentioned the relationship in front of his wife and she appeared all right with it.

"Did she nod her head? She did a lot of head nodding, didn't she? She didn't speak a lot," Mr Smith said.

Miss Willis replied: "She was probably scared."

The case continues.

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