UK & World News
Philpott Fire Trial: Petrol Traces On Clothes
A forensic scientist has told a jury that low levels of petrol were found on the clothing of three people accused of setting fire to a house and killing six children.
Mick and Mairead Philpott deny the manslaughter of their children Duwayne, 13, Jade, 10, John, nine, Jack, seven, Jessie, six, and five-year-old Jayden.
All died following the blaze at their home in Derby last year.
A third defendant, Paul Mosley also denies six counts of manslaughter.
Rebecca Jewell, who specialises in fire investigations, told Nottingham Crown Court, that branded fuel has a higher concentration of additives, which makes car engines run more efficiently, compared to supermarket petrol.
Ms Jewell said: "The liquid in petrol is not the part that burns, that is the vapours that sit above it.
"Petrol additives do not burn in fires, they are left behind. This means we can analyse them and unequivocally say which brand they come from."
She explained to the jury that additives remain on clothing for a long time, even when the fuel has evaporated.
Over six months, police sent the expert a series of exhibits, including clothing, from the defendants and the scene.
She said low level traces of Total and BP petrol additives were found on Mick Philpott's tracksuit bottoms, traces of Total petrol were detected on his socks, slippers and left trainer, and traces of Shell petrol additives were found on his boxer shorts and right trainer.
Ms Jewell said low levels of Total petrol additive was also found on Mairead Philpott's leggings, sandals and thong, and on Mr Mosley's jeans, jumper and right shoe.
She said that she had found no evidence of an "ignitable substance" on the door mat, but there was "limited scientific support for a low level of Total" in the U-bend of the sink.
Under cross examination, Ms Jewell admitted that petrol additives make up a "minute amount" of the product.
The court also heard that Mairead Philpott's sandals, which were found to have more additives on than her other items of clothing, were given to her by a neighbour after the blaze.
Paul Mosley's jeans showed a "moderately high" reading and the expert was unable to say when the petrol got on any of the clothing.
The trial continues.