A community stunned as detectives quiz Philpotts
A COMMUNITY already left devastated by the death of six children in a fire has been stunned to learn their father and mother have been arrested on suspicion of murder.
Mick and Mairead Philpott were held yesterday in connection with the blaze at their house on May 11.
Philpott, 55, and his 31-year-old wife are being questioned by officers investigating the cause of the fire in Victory Road, Allenton, which led to the deaths of their six children – Duwayne, 13, Jade, 10, and brothers John, nine, Jack, seven, Jessie, six, and Jayden, five.
Talk in the street was of how the neighbourhood had been left stunned by the arrests.
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Maida Dakin, 73, who lives in Victory Road, said news about the arrests had "rocked the community".
Joga Bains, who runs Victory News, said: "The deaths have already affected the community and this will affect it even more."
And a 36-year-old woman who has lived in the street all her life said the latest news had been a "horrific shock" and the past few weeks had been like "an emotional rollercoaster" for the community.
She said: "People are just in a state of disbelief.
"Everybody has been ringing, saying how shocked they are."
She said it was a very close community and, after the deaths of the children, everybody had stuck together.
She said: "Since the fire it's been very quiet and sombre around here.
"The community has been deeply affected. It's been silent at night.
"It's been horrible and to then wake up and hear they have been arrested is just a huge shock."
Mrs Dakin added she hoped people would stay united in raising money for the children.
She said: "The kiddies didn't deserve this.
"I think people will still pull together for the kiddies' sake."
Another 41-year-old resident of Victory Road said he could "just not take in" the new development.
He said: "Whoever has done this awful thing, it's not the kids' fault, and the money raised has to be put aside for the burial of the kids."
Father Alan Burbidge is the family priest from St George's Catholic Church, in Village Street, where a small shrine in memory of the six children has been set up.
He said: "There is a sadness because things seemed to be going forward in terms of planning for the funeral.
"Things were looking more positive for Mick and Mairead and I think, upon hearing the news, there is an overwhelming sense of sadness that we still have these youngsters waiting for their burial."
Anthony Slater, from the Osmaston Community Association of Residents (Oscar), set up D-J's Trust to help pay towards the funeral costs of the six Philpott children.
He said: "We have seen the reports and we cannot talk too much about it but we need to stress the fact that Oscar's involvement with D-J's Trust was for the six children, to help with the funeral and the headstone costs.
"You have to appreciate that an average funeral cost is now £3,500 to £4,000 and if you times that by six you are looking at £24,000.
"The money is solely for the six children and anything that may be left over after their funeral will be donated to charity, possibly Birmingham Children's Hospital where young Duwayne died, but that is yet to be finalised.
"To lose six children and now to have these allegations as well is unbelievable."
After news of the arrests had spread through the community yesterday, members of Oscar continued with their plan to carefully pick up tributes laid outside the Philpott home and place them in a van to be taken to St George's Church, to be placed near the shrine.
Leroy Hutchinson, former-ly of Sinfin, organised a fund-raiser where he now lives in South Wales to raise money for D-J's Trust.
He said: "I had been out and got back yesterday morning.
"I made myself a cup of tea and switched on the TV and saw the news in front of me.
"I couldn't believe it, I was just in total shock at the news of the arrests."
Nikita Bolla, 17, helped organise a charity fun run for D-J's Trust.
She said: "I was just so upset when I heard the news. The money we have raised is for D-J's Trust and that is for the children that died."
Leading the investigation for Derbyshire Police is Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cotterill, who has not confirmed it is the Philpotts in custody, although this is understood to be the case.
He said: "The two people were arrested in Derby city centre at 10am yesterday morning and remain in custody being questioned by officers. I want to stress that these arrests do not mean that the investigation is over, in fact far from it.
"The investigation is still very much ongoing and we are looking for people who might have some information but previously may not have had the confidence to come forward and talk to us.
"I would urge anyone who may have been holding back, not felt comfortable to voice their concerns, to do so now.
"They have my personal reassurance that we will deal with their information sensitively. It is absolutely vital that if you know anything you think could help us, come forward now, do not wait any longer. It is important that we find justice for these six young children."
Police are increasing their presence on Victory Road, with a mobile police station returning to the area along with extra patrols.