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British couple guilty of killing six children in fire at family home

Father convicted of starting blaze that killed six in plot with wife to frame ex-lover

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 April, 2013, 3:02am

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

Mick Philpott, 56, and wife Mairead, 32, were convicted at Nottingham Crown Court in central England of manslaughter.

The jury heard they started the fire in nearby Derby on May 11 last year in a failed plot to frame the husband's ex-lover.

Philpott's 29-year-old former live-in girlfriend had left the house three months earlier.

The plan was hatched in a bid to claim custody of her five children, four of which he fathered.

After starting the fire, Philpott was supposed to have rescued the children through a bedroom window. But the petrol-fuelled blaze was far more intense than he expected and the window would not open.

A father of 17 children by five different women, Philpott was already a nationally notorious figure dubbed "Shameless Mick" by the press for his lifestyle, funded by big state welfare handouts.

A third defendant, Paul Mosley - who joined Philpott for group sexual encounters with Mairead - was also found guilty of manslaughter by the jury after an eight-week trial.

The trio will be sentenced today. All six children, aged from five to 13, died from smoke inhalation.

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, said outside court: "This has to be one of, if not the most, upsetting case any of us has ever investigated."

Philpott appeared on television in 2007 in a documentary about welfare.

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 and headlines reading, "Britain's biggest scrounger".

The court heard that, hours before the blaze, Mairead had sex with Mosley on a snooker table while Philpott watched. They had further sexual encounters not long after the children's deaths.

Outside court, Mairead Philpott's family said justice had been done.

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