Mick Philpott's lover said she 'treated children like her own' and was 'devastated' by fire
MICK Philpott's lover, Lisa Willis, was a virtual prisoner in his home at 18 Victory Road, Allenton, a jury has been told.
Philpott controlled her finances – her wages as a canteen assistant, then as a cleaner, and her benefits went into his bank account – and her comings and goings were monitored by him.
"I could not go out shopping on my own, I could not go into town. He would ask me questions – where I'm going, how long I'll be and what for."
On day three of the trial yesterday, plans of the Victory Road property shown to jurors on Tuesday were released to the media.
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The drawings showed how the Derby Homes property had been extended with a conservatory on the back and a room containing a full-sized snooker table.
The plans even showed where accused Mick Philpott parked the minibus he used.
Prosecutor Richard Latham QC asked Ms Willis: "Did you have free rein to leave the house if you wanted, or not?"
She replied: "I could leave if I wanted to but I did not go out because I was so sick of all the questions and answers of when I'll get back, so I did not bother."
Ms Willis told the court that unemployed Philpott, whom she said did nothing round the house except watch television, drove her to work and picked her up, and constantly accused her of having affairs with colleagues.
She told the court that she walked out of the house one day after an argument and Philpott told her to come back.
She refused and he said: "I hope you get run over".
Ms Willis said she never had a key to the Philpott house.
She said when she finally plucked up the courage to leave the house after contacting her estranged sister, she went to stay in a women's refuge with the children.
She said shortly before a court case set for May 11 (for a residency order concerning her and Mick's children) police visited her saying Mick said she had made a phone call to him, threatening him and his family.
She told the court she had not done this.
She told Nottingham Crown Court she had been "devastated" when she found out the children had died.
She said: "I treated them like they were my own."
She said she bathed them, read to them and made them tea.
The jury heard that when Ms Willis had first moved into 18 Victory Road, in early 2002, there had been "happy times". She said she had been good friends with Mairead and she had been a bridesmaid at Philpott's and Mairead's wedding.
Asked by Philpott's barrister, Mr Anthony Orchard QC if, over time, she had become the favourite, Ms Willis said: "Yes, I believe so."
She said he had cared about their safety and would not let them play out on the street. She agreed that he was never violent towards the children. She said that he had made the children "stand in the corner" when they misbehaved.
The jury heard that Philpott spent about six hours a day driving his minibus – taking the children to school and his wife and Ms Willis to work.
Mr Orchard said: "Mick Philpott's hygiene wasn't a high priority?"
"No," she replied.
She said he had a bath about "once a week or once a month" and never changed his clothes.
Mr Orchard put to Ms Willis that in an affidavit for family court proceedings when she was trying to get a residency order for the children, she said Philpott had been violent towards her on a weekly basis.
She conceded this was not true and that there had only been a few incidents.
She said she saw Mairead's children like her own and treated them all the same.
Mr Latham asked her: "When you found out what had happened how did you feel?"
"I was devastated," Ms Willis told the court.
In cross-examination by Mr Orchard, Ms Willis admitted to having had a "brief sexual relationship" with Mick Philpott's eldest son from a previous relationship, David, in Cheshire, in 2002-3 -while she was seeing Mick Philpott.
Mr Orchard put it to Ms Willis that two people had heard her say about Mick: "I will burn him before he sees the kids."
She told the court: "I never said nothing like that."
Ms Willis told the court that on the day she left 18 Victory Road she received a series of text messages from Philpott and Mrs Philpott's phones asking her what the problem was.
She replied: "I have left and the kids are all right. I can't take no more."
*THE PHILPOTT TRIAL: Visit our Philpott trial channel here for all related stories in the fire death case.