British parents guilty of blaze that killed six children

Mick Philpott, right, and his wife Mairead have been convicted of manslaughter in the death of their six children. Photo / AP
Mick Philpott, right, and his wife Mairead have been convicted of manslaughter in the death of their six children. Photo / AP

A British couple were found guilty of killing six of their children in a deliberate blaze at the family home.

Mick Philpott 56, and his 32-year-old wife Mairead were convicted at Nottingham Crown Court in central England of the manslaughter of the six children in the house fire in nearby Derby, on May 11 last year.

Prosecutors said the couple had set fire to their home in a bid to frame Philpott's 29-year-old ex-girlfriend and claim custody of the children they had together.

Philpott was supposed to have rescued the children through a bedroom window, but the fire was far greater than he expected.

Philpott, a father of 17 by five different women, was dubbed "Shameless Mick" by the British press after appearing on television shows to talk about his state welfare demands.

A third defendant, Paul Mosley, was also found guilty of manslaughter by the jury following an eight-week trial.

The trio will be sentenced on Wednesday.

All six children, who were aged from five to 13, died from smoke inhalation. Their names were Duwayne, Jade, John, Jack, Jesse and Jayden.

Samantha Shallow, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said it was a "harrowing" case.

"Today's verdict shows that the children died as a result of the actions of Michael and Mairead Philpott and Paul Mosley when they set the fire," she said.

"It was started as a result of a plan between the three of them to turn family court proceedings in Mr Philpott's favour. It was a plan that went disastrously and tragically wrong."

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cotterill, of the Derbyshire Police force, told reporters outside court: "This has to be one of, if not the most, upsetting case any of us has ever investigated."

Philpott made headlines in 2007 when he appeared in a television documentary about welfare made by a former prisons minister, Ann Widdecombe.

He demanded that local authorities give him a larger house to share with his wife, girlfriend and eight of their children, leading to the "Shameless Mick" nickname.

The court heard how his wife and girlfriend would take turns to sleep with him in either a caravan or the conservatory.

Philpott also told the court he had not bathed for 12 weeks before the fire.

- AFP

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