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The crimes of Mick Philpott: From attempted murder to the arson that killed his children

Mick and Mairead Philpott crying while talking to the media
Image Credit: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo | Above: Mairead Philpott alongside her husband Mick Philpott, speaking to the media at Derby Conference Centre on the 16th May 2012.

Mick Philpott had a history of violent, domineering and controlling behaviour towards women, and he also preyed on young, damaged women from troubled backgrounds. In 1978, he went AWOL from the Army and went to the home of his then-girlfriend, 17-year-old Kim Hall. Throughout the relationship, Philpott had been controlling and abusive, once shooting Kim in the groin with a crossbow and another time smashing her kneecap with a hammer.

After absconding from the Army, Philpott broke into Kim’s home and stabbed her 27 times. Her mother was awoken by the screams and when she went into her daughter’s bedroom, he stabbed her 11 times. A neighbour who heard the commotion called 999 and when paramedics arrived, Philpott told them not to go inside because he had ‘done a job on her’.

Both Kim and her mother survived the ordeal, and Philpott was convicted of attempted murder and grievous bodily harm. While he was sentenced to seven years in prison, he was released after just three years and two months.

In 1986, he married a woman named Pamela Lomax, and he fathered three children with her: David, Richard and Michaela. After around 10 years of marriage, they separated, and Philpott began grooming underage girls, including 14-year-old Heather Kehoe who fled her family home to move in with Philpott.

Heather gave birth to two boys in quick succession: Mickey and Aidan. Philpott reacted to the births by assaulting Heather because he wanted a daughter. The cycle of abuse only continued, and as Mickey and Aidan grew up, Philpott encouraged them to be violent towards their mother.

Philpott was discharged from the British Army in 1991 and received a two-year conditional discharge for assault and bodily harm after he headbutted a colleague. In early 2000, Heather finally escaped the abusive relationship, taking their two sons with her. Just months later, Philpott met 19-year-old Mairead Duffy, a single mother who had just gotten out of an abusive relationship.

Duffy was vulnerable, isolated and young: an easy target for Philpott. Within days, she had moved in with Philpott at his three-bed council home on Victory Road, Derby. The couple we married in 2003, and shortly thereafter, Philpott took 18-year-old Lisa Willis as a mistress. She had served as Philpott and Duffy’s bridesmaid at their wedding and was already pregnant with Philpott’s baby.

As the family drama unfolded, Lisa, along with her son from a previous marriage, decided to join Philpott and Duffy, resulting in an unconventional and controversial household. Soon Philpott had fathered four children with Duffy and three more with Lisa.

Their attention-seeking lifestyle hit the headlines in 2006 when Philpott demanded a larger council house to accommodate the 11 people living under one roof. The council informed them that they already occupied the biggest available house in Derby. In response, Philpott expressed his dissatisfaction, stating to The Birmingham Post: ‘They’re just not good enough. I love my country, but at the moment I feel ashamed of it. I think the country is going down the pan.’ According to some sources, the family were receiving benefits of £40,000 a year. According to others, they were receiving around £60,000.

When the articles were published, Philpott received a lot of criticism for his lifestyle. He said to numerous newspapers that people were just jealous of his living situation, that every man would love to live with two women. Philpott was undeterred and even relished the publicity. With all of the media coverage, Philpott received a visit from bailiffs. It was disclosed that he hadn’t paid his full council tax in two years and was ordered to pay it back.

Amid the media buzz, Lisa gave birth to her fourth child by Philpott, and shortly thereafter, both Duffy and Lisa were pregnant once more. During an interview, Philpott said that the most recent pregnancies came as a surprise even though he admitted to not wearing condoms. He also confessed that around a year earlier, he had cheated on Duffy and Lisa with his friend’s girlfriend, who also fell pregnant.

Behind closed doors, Philpott was abusive and controlling toward both women. In 2010, he was given a police caution after slapping Duffy and dragging her outside. On another occasion, he attacked Lisa with a piece of wood. Finally, in February 2012, Lisa fled the home under the pretence of going swimming. She took her and Philpott’s four children with her, as well as another from an earlier relationship.

At around 4am on 11th May 2012, a neighbour noticed the Philpott house up in flames. He ran outside, along with some other neighbours, to see Philpott frantically smashing the windows of the conservatory and screaming for his children, who were trapped inside. The fire department arrived promptly and battled to put out the flames.

Once the fire was extinguished, the firefighters went inside and located the lifeless bodies of six children. Tragically, it was too late and five of the children were pronounced dead on the scene: Jade, 10, John, 9, Jack, 8, Jesse, 7, and Jayden, 5. Philpott and Duffy’s 13-year-old son, Duwayne, was rushed to Royal Derby Hospital, where he passed away.

According to Philpott and Duffy, they were asleep in the conservatory when the blaze began. Detectives responded to the home to begin an investigation which revealed that petrol had been poured across the entrance hall, sparking a murder investigation. Detectives were suspicious of Philpott and Duffy’s account and were granted permission to monitor them with covert recordings.

The recordings revealed that the couple had been engaging in threesomes with a man named Paul Mosley. Further recordings captured all three speaking about their alibis on the night of the arson attack and captured Philpott asking Duffy if she would stick to the story.

Finally, on 28 May, Philpott, Duffy and Mosley were arrested on suspicion of murder. They stood trial in February 2013, during which Prosecutor Richard Latham argued that the fire had been started by the trio in a bid to frame Lisa while Philpott intended on playing the hero who saved his children. He argued that trio anticipated that this would lead to Philpott being granted full custody of his children.

Philpott, Duffy and Mosley hadn’t anticipated how quickly the flames would spread. They surged up the PVC front door, melting the plastic, and then quickly progressed up the staircase which had varnished wood panelling. All of the upstairs doors had been left open, allowing the smoke to quickly flood the bedrooms where the children were asleep.

The prosecution also argued that there was a secondary motive: Philpott and Duffy had wanted to get a bigger council house. The prosecution stated that Lisa leaving the family home was the catalyst for everything that followed, and that Philpott was deeply troubled by her leaving, to the point that he even attempted suicide. ‘What she had done challenged the very core of his attitude to his family and his women. She had stood up to him, he was no longer in control and that was absolutely unacceptable to him,’ said Prosecutor Latham.

In April 2013, Philpott, Duffy and Mosley were convicted of six counts of manslaughter. Philpott was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 15 years. Duffy and Mosley were sentenced to 17 years in prison with the possibility of parole after eight years. Duffy was released on license on 2020.