UK & World News

  • 20 February 2013, 2:16

Fire Accused Couple 'Had Threatening Call'

A couple accused of starting a blaze that killed their six children claimed to have received a call threatening to burn down their house, a court has heard.

Mick Philpott was driving a group of friends to a darts match in Leicester when he had a telephone conversation with his wife Mairead, during which she told him the threat had been made.

Philpott, 56, his 31-year-old wife and third defendant Paul Mosley, 46, are accused of starting the fire in order to frame Philpott's former mistress, Lisa Willis.

Six siblings - Jade, 10, John, nine, Jack, eight, Jesse, six, Jayden, five, and Duwayne, 13 - all died in the fire at their home in theAllenton area of Derby on May 11 last year.

All the accused are appearing at Nottingham Crown Court where they have denied six counts of manslaughter in relation to the deaths.

Sarah Osborne, who was among the group being driven to the darts match by Philpott, said that during the journey he pulled over to take a call on his mobile phone.

Mrs Osborne told the court that afterwards Philpott said: "Sorry guys, somebody's just called to threaten to torch the house with the kids."

She added: "My sister asked who had called him and he said his wife, Mairead."

The conversation between Philpott and his wife took place on April 6.

When Richard Latham QC opened the case for the prosecution last week he told jurors the Philpotts lived an unusual life at their home in Victory Road.

Miss Willis had previously lived there with the couple as Philpott's mistress, along with her four children that were fathered by him, and another child she had from a previous relationship.

Also in the house were the six children Philpott had with his wife, all of whom died in the fire.

Mrs Osborne said Philpott had been talking to people in the bus about his recent break-up with Lisa Willis and how he was unable to see his children.

The prosecution alleges that Philpott, his wife and Mosley hoped to frame Miss Willis as a reprisal after she left Philpott.

The trial also heard from Ian Cousins, Lisa Willis' brother-in-law, who told jurors he was relieved when Miss Willis moved out.

Miss Willis and her five children moved in with Mr Cousins and his wife Amanda - Miss Willis' sister - in the February before the blaze.

Mr Cousins said there was no love lost between him and Philpott, and both he and his wife were relieved when Miss Willis left the relationship after 10 years.

He said: "We knew that she had not been living in a very good situation and were just happy she had got out."

Mr Cousins said Philpott had turned up at the Cousins' home wanting to see his children with Miss Willis just weeks after she had left.

There was a tense confrontation, jurors heard, in which Mr Cousins and Philpott exchanged insults before police were called.

The court also heard details of how Philpott posted an entry on Facebook in which he accused Mr Cousins of having an affair with Miss Willis and fathering the child she had when she was 16.

Mr Cousins said he and his wife both knew the claims were not true, but conceded that the online post had caused some upset between them. The pair had since split up.

Later Mr Cousins was arrested by police and questioned in relation to the fire before being released with no further action.

During the hearing, Mr Cousins was asked by Philpott's barrister Anthony Orchard QC, whether he had been involved in the blaze.

Mr Orchard QC, asked him: "Are you or were you connected to the setting of this fire?"

Mr Cousins answered: "Not at all."

Mr Orchard asked: "Did you have any direct knowledge of who set the fire?"

"No," he replied.

The trial continues.

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