'Controlling and manipulative' Mick Philpott 'hatched fire plan that killed kids in bid to frame girlfriend who walked out'
"CONTROLLING and manipulative" Mick Philpott started a fire which killed his six children as part of a plan to frame his ex-girlfriend after becoming locked in a custody battle with her, a court has heard.
Philpott, along with his wife, Mairead, allegedly started the blaze at their semi-detached home after making reports to the police that his former partner, Lisa Willis, had been threatening him and his family.
Prosecutor Richard Latham QC said Philpott would "do anything to get his own way".
He said Philpott controlled his partners' finances and resorted to violence at times.
Mr Latham said the prosecution's case was that Mick Philpott was "very controlling and very manipulative".
The court was told the family shared an unconventional lifestyle – Philpott, 56, his 31-year-old wife and Ms Willis, 28, all lived in the same house.
A total of 11 children also lived there – six were those of Mick and Mairead Philpott, while four were his children with Ms Willis. Another child was Ms Willis's with another man.
Mick and Mairead Philpott's children – Jade, 10, and her brothers John, nine, Jack, eight, Jessie, six, Jayden, five, and Duwayne, 13 – all perished after the fire at their home in Victory Road, Allenton, Derby, in the early hours of May 11 last year.
The couple, along with a third defendant, 46-year-old Paul Mosley, have all denied six separate counts of manslaughter in relation to the deaths.
Mr Latham said Philpott met Ms Willis when she was 18 and he was 45. She was a single mum of a toddler son at the time. She moved into the Philpotts' home in Victory Road, Allenton.
"Her sexual relationship with Philpott started after she had been living there for about three weeks. Almost from the outset he sought to have total control over her."
Philpott made Ms Willis put all her money into his bank account, including her income support and £450 monthly pay from her cleaning job.
"He took total control of his wife's finances as well," said Mr Latham.
"Early on in their relationship there was an occasion where he attacked her repeatedly with a piece of wood."
Mr Latham said Philpott hit her with this piece of wood when she refused to accept his assertion that her son had been fathered by her sister's partner.
He made this assertion repeatedly through their relationship. Mr Latham told the court: "Philpott was convinced she was having an affair with everyone. She was not allowed to speak to another man. And in Christmas 2011, she decided she could put up with this no longer."
Ms Willis got in touch with her sister and with her help and neighbours Adam and Vicky Taylor, she finally left the Philpott home, using the ruse she was going swimming.
"She had only been out of the house for 10 minutes before Philpott began ringing her. She didn't answer. She then got continuous calls and texts from him, asking why had she left, what had she done wrong," said Mr Latham."
He added that she was worried about him taking the children from her and she initiated court proceedings for a residency order for the children and a non-molestation order.
Mr Latham said: "She wasn't adverse to him having contact (with the children) but wasn't going to surrender residency. He found this totally unacceptable."
A hearing was fixed for Friday May 11. By May 1, Philpott had rung police to say Ms Willis had made threats to kill him and said he wanted her arrested.
"You may conclude if she had been, it would have greatly assisted him in any court proceedings," Mr Latham said to the jury.
One witness told police that, about two weeks before the fire, Philpott said he had "a plan up his sleeve and that Lisa wasn't getting away with it – watch this space".
Mr Latham said the prosecution case was that, because Ms Willis "was going to do what she wanted and not what he required", he planned to "set her up". He added that the arson attack was designed to be a "highly dramatic event" that would have an inevitable impact on family court proceedings.
He said Philpott also wanted a bigger house.
He said to the jury: "We would invite you to draw a number of conclusions. Philpott was quite unable to accept the decision of Lisa Willis to leave the relationship, and more importantly to take the children with her. If necessary he would fight for residency if she would not agree to return. He considered if he won residency, it would force her to return.
"He wanted better accommodation from Derby Homes – he had 11 children and they had grown. Better accommodation, he saw, again, would persuade Lisa to come back."
Mr Latham said the prosecution case was that all three defendants were involved in the preparation of the fire but Philpott was the "prime leader and dominant player in this unlawful and highly dangerous enterprise".
The court heard that, on April 6, Philpott received a call from his wife while taking friends to a darts game in his minibus.
Philpott told his friends: "Sorry guys, someone is threatening to torch the house with the kids in it," Mr Latham told the court.
"This was all nonsense," said Mr Latham. "This was all a way of setting what had become a plan."
"It became apparent to him that Lisa was going to do what she wanted and not what he required or demanded. He began to set her up."
"We say that this was a plan that went horribly wrong and resulted in total tragedy," Mr Latham said.
He told the court that Ms Willis denies threatening to torch the house.
Mr Latham said Ms Willis leaving the family home on February 11 "was the catalyst for everything that was to follow". He said Philpott was deeply troubled by her leaving, to the point that he had become depressed and even tried to take his own life.
He steadily became "obsessed with getting Lisa and the kids back" and part of his distress was because of the simple fact that Ms Willis had left him. "He simply will not tolerate dissent," jurors heard.
When Ms Willis returned to the house with a friend on February 14 to collect clothes for her and the children, she was challenged by Philpott.
"There was an incident on the doorstep, Philpott manifesting huge aggression and the police were called," Mr Latham said.
"What she had done challenged the very core of his attitude to his family and his women. She had stood up to him, he was no longer in control and that was absolutely unacceptable to him."
*THE PHILPOTT TRIAL: Visit our Philpott trial channel here for all related stories in the fire death case.