Philpott trial: 'I tried to get in the window, but thick black smoke came pouring out'
BRAVE would-be rescuer David Stevenson wiped away tears as he told a court how he made desperate attempts to save the lives of the six Philpott children.
Mr Stevenson lives three doors down from the Philpotts' house, 18 Victory Road, with his brother Callum.
Both gave evidence on day nine of the Phlipott trial at Nottingham Crown Court yesterday.
He told how he raced from his house, wearing only pyjamas, when he became aware of the fire.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Wiping away tears from his eyes, he said: "I sprinted up the road – I could see there were flames coming from the front door.
"I could see a glow from the front room, there was loads of smoke."
He told how he climbed over a caravan parked at the side of the house to get into the back garden.
"I went into next door and got on a fence, then on the roof of the caravan, before getting in the back garden.
He climbed up a ladder propped up against the rear of the property to try to look into the window.
He then managed to get inside the house through the conservatory doors but was beaten back by the thick, black smoke when he reached the kitchen door.
"Is that when things got too difficult?" Richard Latham QC, prosecuting, asked. "Yes," Mr Stevenson replied.
The court heard in a further attempt to gain entry to the house, Mr Stevenson climbed back up the ladder.
"I picked up a pickaxe that was on the roof. I broke a window and a gust of smoke flew out.
Mr Latham said: "Could you see anything?"
Mr Stevenson replied: "No, there was too much smoke."
He continued: "I stayed out on the roof but the police had arrived and shouted at me to come down, but I wanted to try and help."
Jade Philpott, 10, and her brothers John, nine, Jack, eight, Jesse, six, and Jayden, five, all died in the Allenton blaze. Their brother Duwayne died the next day at Birmingham Children's Hospital.
All six children died from the effects of smoke inhalation.
Their parents Mick, 56, and Mairead Philpott, 31, and family friend Paul Mosley, 45, of Cecil Street, Derby, have all denied manslaughter. They are accused of starting the fire.
The prosecution has alleged the fire was set as part of a trap to frame Philpott's former mistress Lisa Willis after she walked out on the house she shared with the couple. She took four children fathered by Philpott and a fifth from a previous relationship. Philpott was in a dispute with Ms Willis for custody of the children.
Giving evidence yesterday, Mr Stevenson's brother, Callum, said he was woken by the noise of the fire on May 11 last year. He told the court: "I looked out the window, I could see Mick, he was either up a ladder or on the conservatory trying to break one of the windows, I think with a tennis racket.
"He was shouting 'my babies, my babies' or words to that effect.
"I woke my brother who ran to the house. When I got there, there were flames coming out the front door."
Jane Perry, who lives next-door-but-two to 18 Victory Road, also gave evidence yesterday.
She said she was woken by her three dogs. She said: "I came out the house and saw the smoke and the fire.
"I just shouted, 'Oh my God, oh my God'."
Mr Latham asked Ms Perry if she heard Philpott shout anything at the firefighters.
She replied: "Yes, he shouted, 'You have done **** all'."
Another neighbour, Joseph Peel, said he was woken by his dog barking and looked out of his bedroom window to see 18 Victory Road on fire at 3.45am.
He said: "I looked out the window and saw it looked foggy. I then noticed the door of the house was on fire so I called 999, put some clothes on and ran outside.
"I banged on the side of the caravan shouting, 'Mick, Mick, your house is on fire'.
"Then I heard his voice from the back garden.
"He was saying, 'My kids, get my kids out'.
"I couldn't do anything more because of the flames and the smoke.
"But then Daniel Stevenson and Jamie Butler arrived and they climbed on the top of the caravan."
The final neighbour to give evidence yesterday was Franchesca Blavins, whose house is directly opposite.
She said she was asked to take the Philpotts into her home.
Miss Blavins said: "I wanted to help.
"Mairead was bad, I lent her my asthma inhaler.
"She had nothing on her feet so I gave her a pair of my old flip-flops."
Miss Blavins said Philpott was wearing jogging bottoms and socks.
She said he took off his socks as he came in.
She said: "They were just kicked under the chair. Two days later I could still smell smoke in the house so I found the socks and put them in the bin."
Mr Latham said: "Did the police come and take a statement from you that day and did you mention the socks?"
Miss Blavins said: "Yes, that's right."
Mr Latham asked: "Did you retrieve them from the bin and hand them over to the police?"
Miss Blavins said: "Yes."
The trial was adjourned and will resume for a third week on Monday at 10.15am.