Philpott trial: 'We got into the first bedroom. My colleague handed me a casualty taken from a bed. It was obviously a child'
FIREFIGHTERS who pulled the lifeless bodies of the Philpott children from their bedroom as 18 Victory Road have given their distressing evidence in court.
One told how he went back up the stairs four times to help retrieve three of the children. He spoke of the "chaotic and confusing" scene with "casualties everywhere".
Another told how he jumped on to a wheelie bin to try to get over a caravan that was blocking his way to the back garden. He then climbed a ladder and got on to the roof of a conservatory where a colleague used his hands to break a window to try and gain access.
Michael Patterson, who was based at Ascot Drive fire station, was part of a four-man crew that was the first to arrive at the scene.
He said: "I got one hose reel out from one side of the engine while a colleague got the other. I got to the front of the house there were flames around the door frame. The plastic door had virtually been blown out.
"I tried to knock the flames back which I did for a while and also pointed the nozzle at another fire that was inside a window to the left of the front door in a separate room."
He said he then dropped his hose while he put on his breathing mask before entering the front door.
He said: "It was thick, black acrid smoke. You struggled to see your hands in front of your face."
Mr Patterson said he stamped on the stairs to check they would take his and his colleagues' weight before they ran up them to check for casualties.
He said: "We got into the first bedroom. My colleague handed me a casualty that he had taken from a bed. It was obviously a child.
"I cradled the child and started to walk down the stairs backwards while holding it. I took the child out on to the pavement before going back inside."
Prosecutor Richard Latham QC asked Mr Patterson how many times he went back into the house.
He replied: "Four in total. I helped get three casualties out."
At this point in proceedings Mick Philpott started to weep, holding his head in his hands and leaning forwards. His wife, Mairead, also began to cry and wipe tears from her eyes.
Mr Patterson continued: "The situation was quite confusing, quite chaotic, with a great sense of urgency. There were casualties everywhere.
"In the third bedroom I had to lean across the double bed to pull a casualty towards me. I realised that there were two casualties on that bed and told a colleague to come back and get that casualty."
Another firefighter, crew manager, Paul Neal, told how he went to the side of the house to try to gain access to the back garden.
He said he climbed on to a wheelie bin to try and get on the roof of a caravan that was parked at the side of the house and blocking his route to the back of the property.
Mr Neal said: "I got to the back of the house and climbed a ladder that was already there leading up to one of the bedroom windows. I then managed to get on to the roof of the conservatory with another colleague. He smashed the window with his gloved hand.
"I looked inside. It was dark, there was thick black smoke in the room. I could see a bed but no casualties."
A few minutes later Mr Neal said he was at the front of the property and saw Mick Philpott outside. He said: "He was running up the street towards us shouting 'my kids.' The police had to restrain him."
Another crew manager, Christopher Timons, explained to the court that his crew were called to the scene from Ilkeston fire station but by the time they arrived the flames had been put out.
He said his role was to try to act as a liaison between Philpott, who by now had been taken inside a neighbour's house across the road, and the firefighters still at the scene.
Mr Timons said: "A police officer, PC Steele, was relaying information to me from Mr Philpott about which children were supposed to be in which bedrooms.
"There was some confusion because the six-year-old was called Jesse and we were not sure if this was a boy or a girl so the firefighters searched inside the house longer than they maybe should have."
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