'I can't listen to it' says defendant as emotional 999 call is played to jurors
THERE were emotional scenes shortly after the trial got under way at Nottingham Crown Court yesterday as the 999 call made by the couple as the fire took hold was played to the jury.
Mick Philpott stood and tried to leave the dock, saying "I can't listen to it" before being made to sit down by security officers.
He spent the remaining minutes sobbing, with his head bowed and hands over his ears as the call played out.
During the eight-minute 999 call, made from Philpott's mobile phone at 3.46am on May 11, the distress and panic caused by the chaotic scene could be heard when both Philpott and his wife talked to the operator.
He could be heard crying and saying: "I can't get in."
His wife put her hand up to her eyes and wiped away tears as the recording was played.
Prosecutor Richard Latham QC said that while she was talking to 999 operators the fire was out of control.
The court heard how neighbours tried to rescue the children from the burning house but were beaten back by the smoke and flames.
When the bodies of the children were carried out of the house by police, Philpott ran forward and had to be restrained, Mr Latham said.
"It must have been quite clear the plan had gone horribly wrong."
Philpott was heard telling people Ms Willis threatened to kill them or to set fire to the house.
"She was being set up as the culprit," Mr Latham said.
Philpott told neighbours the children were in the back bedroom of the house.
"Is this where they were expected to be as part of the plan to rescue them?" Mr Latham asked.
During the prosecution opening, the court heard details of the Philpotts' life together with Ms Willis, who moved into the house not long after meeting Philpott.
While Ms Willis and her children were living at the three-bedroom council house in Victory Road – which had a games room, including full-length snooker table – most of the children normally slept upstairs while Mairead Philpott slept in either the living room or the conservatory.
Her husband slept in a caravan outside with Ms Willis.
The adults had a sexual relationship but Philpott often said he was unhappy with his wife, jurors heard.
He said he wanted to divorce her and marry Ms Willis while still wishing for all three of them to live in the house together.
"Mairead was Lisa's lapdog, Lisa was who he wanted," Mr Latham told the court.
Ms Willis became unhappy with the relationship, Mr Latham said, but did not express her feelings to Philpott because she was worried about his reaction.
"She knew that to simply announce to Michael Philpott that she found the relationship set-up unacceptable would provoke a singularly unpleasant reaction.
"He was the one who made the decisions. The women did not."
Philpott told police he was playing snooker with friend Paul Mosley before the fire broke out.
He said Mosley left before 2am and Michael and Mairead fell asleep watching a film, but they were woken by a smoke alarm and he discovered a large fire in the hall.
He called 999 and handed the phone to his wife before climbing a ladder in the back garden and smashing a hole in the back window. He said the black smoke beat him back.
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