Philpott fire: Case that trio were 'all in it together' slammed as 'frankly rubbish'
A JURY will soon be asked to decide whether the case against the trio accused of starting a fire that killed six children was a plan that they were "all in together" or "a trial by smear and scandal".
On Thursday, the prosecuting barrister brought his case against Mick and Mairead Philpott, and Paul Mosley, to a close by telling the court that Philpott "knew precisely what he was doing".
And Richard Latham QC said Mairead was "not some kind of rag doll that has no control of her life" and Mosley had "not got any answers".
But Mick Philpott's barrister, Anthony Orchard QC, told the jury the accusations were "frankly rubbish".
He said: "This is a trail by smear and scandal. Motive. What motive? Does it not make more sense that someone else did this?"
Mick, 56, and Mairead, 31, both deny the manslaughter of their six children in the fire at 18 Victory Road, Allenton, in May 2012.
The prosecution claims the fire was started as part of a plan to frame Philpott's former live-in lover, Lisa Willis, who had walked out of the house three months earlier.
Philpott's friend, Mosley, 45, of Cecil Street, Derby, is jointly charged with the couple.
On Thursday, on the 27th day of the trial at Nottingham Crown Court, Mr Latham said: "The three of them are all in this together.
"We say Michael Philpott is a highly manipulative individual. This is a man who wants his own way and will get it how he can.
"Charm, persuasion, cajoling, demands, threats, throw a wobbly, have a turn and apologise."
In summing up his case against Philpott, Mr Latham told the jury that the plan he had, to frame his former mistress, "went tragically wrong".
He said that evidence already heard in court from a number of witnesses said they heard Philpott claim he had received death threats on the phone when he took them to a darts match.
But Mairead, giving evidence, said the call he took was from her saying one of their children was playing up.
Mr Latham said: "He was telling a lie. Why was he doing that? Because he was beginning to set a plan. By now he knew precisely what was going to happen.
"I know the plan went wrong, tragically and ghastly, but what did it lead to? Within hours Lisa Willis had been arrested. Just what Mick Philpott wanted."
During his closing speech, Mr Latham ran over the evidence he had presented and what had come to light in his cross-examination.
He said none of the three defendants had a viable explanation why they had petrol in their clothes.
Mr Latham said Philpott and Mairead's explanation that covert police recordings hearing them talking about "sticking to the story" being about keeping evidence that they had sex with Mosley on the night of the fire "simply didn't fit into context".
And he also said the missing petrol container, that has never been found, was passed through an open window at the front of the house to Mosley.
Mr Latham said: "Matthew Lee, the fire investigator who gave evidence towards the start of the trial, said there was no evidence of petrol on the outside doorstep which he would have expected had petrol been poured through the letterbox.
"On the 999 calls Mick and Mairead tell the operator and then Mick tells another three police officers that the children are in the bedroom.
"Not the bedrooms, the bedroom, singular."
Mr Latham also told the jury to consider how Mairead had acted during cross-examination in the witness box.
He said: "You might have huge sympathy. The plan was not to kill the children, otherwise we would be looking at six charges of murder and not manslaughter.
"Might I suggest that by the time she left the witness box she had come across as intelligent, a woman who stuck up for herself, someone who could draw a line where she wanted to draw a line.
"She was quite prepared, under questioning, to ditch Mick Philpott as it assisted her defence.
"She's not some kind of rag doll that has no control of her life. If she had wanted to draw a line before the fire she could have drawn one. But she did not.
"She was prepared to have sex with Paul Mosley eight days after the deaths of her six children and she was prepared to do that when it was apparent she did not want to do it.
"She can put on the face she wants when she wants to."
On Wednesday Mosley was expected to take to the witness box but his barrister, Ben Nolan, told the court that he had decided not to and instead was "exercising his right to silence".
Mr Latham told the jury: "You are entitled to draw an adverse inference from that if you wish.
"We say he watched Mick and Mairead being cross-examined and he could see what happened to them.
"You are entitled to look at the evidence against him.
"He does not go into the witness box because he knows once the evidence against him is looked at he has not got any answers."
Mr Latham then reminded the jury of evidence given by the witness Melissa John, the partner of one of Mosley's nephews, who told the court he said to her around a kitchen table "what if I told you we planned this six weeks before".
And another witness, Andy Faulkner, also gave evidence to say Mosley had told him at a bingo hall in Sinfin he was "going to hand himself in."
But Mick Philpott's barrister called the prosecution case against his client "trial by smear and scandal".
Mr Orchard invited the jury to explore the possibility that "someone else did this".
Mr Orchard, in his closing speech on Thursday, afternoon, said none of the witnesses had said Philpott smelled of petrol.
And he also told the court that CCTV captured from every petrol station within a five-mile radius of 18 Victory Road failed to earthed footage of the 56-year-old buying petrol that was used to start the blaze.
Instead he suggested that someone else started the blaze, possibly using a hose or funnel to pour the fuel through the letterbox before igniting it.
Mr Orchard spent more than two hours addressing the jury of seven men and five women on Thursday afternoon.
He opened his speech by saying: "This is a trial by smear and scandal.
"Motive. What motive?
"Does it not make more sense that someone else did this to him?
"Mr Philpott has an unconventional lifestyle and his appearances on TV were vilified in the press painting him as a benefit scrounger.
"Might someone be so disgusted enough to start the fire? Yes.
"Be angry enough? Yes.
"Someone who did not want to kill the children but wanted to teach Mick Philpott a lesson? Yes.
"Someone wanted to leave a message."
Mr Orchard then explained to the jury how serious the case was that they would be asked to decide guilty or not guilty verdicts on.
He said: "This case is very, very important. It is not a TV trail, not Judge Judy that you can laugh about afterwards.
"It is real life and tragically six children have died.
"You don't gamble in a criminal trial, it's not red or black."
Mr Orchard then addressed the jury about the evidence from the scene.
He said the prosecution's evidence of petrol found on the clothing of his client was "just speculation" and did not prove that Philpott poured any petrol in the hallway of his home before lighting it.
Mr Orchard said a number of eye witnesses, including the Stevenson brothers, Callum and Daniel, and brother Jamie and Darren Butler, said the front lounge window that firefighters said was open when they arrived was actually closed.
And he said the jury should not rely on evidence given earlier in the trial by Melissa John, the partner of a nephew of Paul Mosley who told the court Mosley told her he and Philpott had practised the fire routine six weeks before the blaze.
Mr Orchard said: "This really is a flight of fancy, a Paul Mosley flight of fancy, said when Mr and Mrs Philpott were not there.
"There is no forensic evidence of any test run to substantiate what Mr Mosley claims."
Mr Orchard said despite their unconventional lifestyle the Philpotts were popular people in Victory Road, citing neighbour Franchesca Blavins who would visit them every day to have a coffee and a chat.
Mr Orchard said: "The Philpotts were not the neighbours from hell.
"No-one who has given evidence has disputed that Mr Philpott was anything other than a good dad.
"There is nothing to suggest he would do anything to harm his children or put them in any danger."
Mr Orchard then put to the jury the possibility that someone other than his client and the two co-accused had set the fire.
He said: "If it was not Mr Philpott, then who did it?
"We are not here to solve the crime. The real culprit would have had the chance to slip away.
"He would have slipped away in a matter of seconds.
"What we have here (the prosecution's case) is pieces of the jigsaw that don't actually fit."
Mr Orchard then discussed the relationship between Philpott, former mistress Lisa Willis and her family.
He said: "Amanda Cousins (Ms Willis' sister) hated Mick Philpott. She was nasty and vindictive and shouted death threats at Mairead in front of a bus load of her (Mairead's) kids.
"She loathed and detested Mick Philpott from the time Lisa chose him over her."
At the end of the day on Thursday, Mr Orchard explained to the court that he had about 15 more minutes of his closing speech still to give and he is expected to be followed by Shaun Smith QC, for Mairead Philpott.
Mr Orchard said: "If there was a plan, why did Mick and Mairead not go upstairs and check all of the children were in the same bedroom (ready to be rescued by Philpott)?
"This was not part of a plan to set Lisa Willis up, this was nothing of the sort.
"Analyse it yourself, the prosecution's claim is, frankly, rubbish."
The trial continues.
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