Meeting with Philpott like no other in 33 years in the job, says social worker
A SOCIAL worker said Mick Philpott became "annoyed and threatening" when she said the children he had with Lisa Willis were back with her.
Suzanne Eastwood said during a 25-minute meeting she had with Philpott and his wife, Mairead, the 56-year-old would "frequently" shout and point his finger at her when he did not get what he wanted.
She said she also felt like he was trying to say Ms Willis started the blaze that killed the six children and that at one point during their meeting he started to pretend to cry.
Ms Eastwood, who told Nottingham Crown Court she had worked as a social worker in Derby for 33 years, was giving evidence on Day 11 of the trial.
She said that after the fire, but before the Philpotts were arrested, she had a meeting with them, at Philpott's request, at her offices in Stanley Road, Alvaston.
She told the court: "We sat down in the room. There was me, a colleague, Mr and Mrs Philpott and Mr Philpott's son, Richard.
"I started the meeting by expressing my condolences for the loss of the six children. He started to talk about them, he was very calm and matter-of-fact about it all."
Richard Latham QC, prosecuting asked: "And what about Mrs Philpott?"
Ms Eastwood said: "There was no emotion, I was quite taken aback by that, I was quite surprised.
"He told me he wanted to see his children that he had with Lisa.
"I explained to him that they had been in foster care but that morning had been returned to their mother."
Mr Latham said: "What was his reaction?"
Ms Eastwood said: "He was really not happy about this. He pushed his chair back and started pointing his finger at me, leaning over Mrs Philpott.
"I was shocked.
"He said he no longer wanted to talk to me.
"He went from being calm to being annoyed and threatening.
"He sat back down and said by placing them back with Lisa I was placing them in danger.
"I got the impression that he thought Lisa had started the fire."
Ms Eastwood said she explained to Philpott that the children would remain with Ms Willis. She said: "He said Mairead was a better mother than Lisa.
"He wanted to know where the children were.
"He said he knew where they were and wanted transport to go and get them."
Ms Eastwood said that by the time the meeting was over she was unable to recall a single other meeting like it in her 33 years' experience.
She said: "I did think at one point he was going to cry.
"It was like he thought to himself 'I'd better cry at this point'."
Another witness to give evidence yesterday morning was Louise Quantick, who was a patient at the Royal Derby Hospital on the morning the children were brought in.
She told the court how she discharged herself from accident and emergency and saw the Philpotts outside having a cigarette.
Mr Latham said: "While you were standing near them, having a cigarette yourself, you heard him say something, didn't you?"
Miss Quantick, a health care assistant, said: "Yes."
Mr Latham said: "What was it?"
Miss Quantick said: "He said: "It was not meant to end like this'."
Also giving evidence yesterday was Superintendent Kate Meynell, the senior investigating officer in the case.
She told how she met Mr and Mrs Philpott at St Mary's Wharf police station in Derby on May 14, three days after the fire. She said as part of her role it was important that she met them, introduced herself and explained what her duties would be during the course of the investigation.
She said: "He (Philpott) said he wanted his five children that he had with Lisa Willis to live with them."
More neighbours who lived near the fire house at 18 Victory Road, Allenton, also spoke in the witness stand yesterday morning.
In a statement read in court, Erica Steadman, told how she was woken by smoke drifting into her bedroom on the morning of the fire. She said: "I was woken by the sound of a scream. It is a scream I will never forget."
PC Deborah Croxall told the court how she drove the Philpotts and Mrs Philpott's mother, Vera Duffy, from the Royal Derby Hospital to Birmingham Children's Hospital, when the oldest child to die, Duwayne, was transferred there on May 11.
She said: "They did not seem to appreciate how necessary it was for me to get them there as quickly as possible."
*THE PHILPOTT TRIAL: Visit our Philpott trial channel here for all related stories in the fire death case.