Mick Philpott became a symbol of hate across the nation when he was convicted of manslaughter following a flawed benefit scam which saw six of his children die in a fire in their own home, set by their own father.
“There is so many levels of betrayal regarding Philpott: The betrayal of his children; the betrayal of his friends; the betrayal of a whole community; the betrayal of a nation. Philpott covered all bases.”
Emma Kenny, Psychologist
“Even as a young man, Philpott was a monster.”
Dr Keri Nixon, Forensic Psychologist
“He stabbed me twenty seven times and then tried to gut me...”
Kim Hill is born in June 1961, the youngest of three. Her father’s an army officer and her mum works in the NAFI, the shops used by service personnel.
In 1976, aged just 15, Kim meets 19-year-old Mick Philpott. He’s training to be in the army. He comes across as cocky and confident. When he asks for her phone number, Kim gives it:
“You know when you get your sort of first boyfriend and you get them butterflies in your stomach...it was, you know, like that.”
She will be his first victim of many over the next 35 years.
Mick soon changes from being a catch to being controlling and violent. He imposes a curfew on her. When she’s later than his prescribed time, he hits her. But before Kim can be upset, Mick takes over the situation:
“...he started crying...saying he was sorry, it will never happen again...don’t finish with him...don’t tell my dad...and I didn’t. I felt sorry for him.”
This is, however, just the first of many slaps, punches, kicks and worse that Kim will receive. She will soon be trapped.
“He threatens her and he tells her what will happen if she leaves him. She doesn’t actually feel that she has any choices.”
The private beatings become public humiliations. When she says she doesn’t want to play pool with Mick in a crowded bar, retribution is immediate:
“He got the thick end of the pool cue and whacked it straight across my mouth...In front of a pub load of blokes. And not one of them did anything. My mouth just burst open bleeding...he...made me sit, and not one bloke said a word to him.”
She starts to permanently bear his handiwork from bite-marks and bruises to broken cheekbones and fingers. Her submission is absolute.
“You never say no to Mick Philpott. You never ever say no.”
Once, he breaks her arm. On another occasion, he takes a hammer to her. He smashes her kneecap. Every time he returns from his army postings, he accuses her of affairs and violently assaults her. He starts going AWOL just so he can check on her.
To cover for him, she regularly tells school that she’s been in a fight in order for them to tell her father and explain away the bruises.
After two years, Kim can’t take any more. In the summer of 1978 she leaves Mick. On 4 July, he follows her home. He waits till her father leaves for his night shift. Then he breaks in. He attacks her in her bed. He stabs her 27 times. When her mother tries to stop him, he stabs her as well. He stabs her eleven times, mainly in the back, as she tries to escape down the stairs.
He returns to finish Kim:
“He’d put the knife in at the top. And pulled the knife down. He’d actually slit my stomach open.”
Neighbours call paramedics who arrive to find Mick sitting on the stairs still holding the bloodied knife:
“...he actually was laughing and said to the paramedics,
‘I wouldn’t bother. She’s a goner. I’ve done a good job on her.”
Dr Keri Nixon
Mick is nearly right. Her injuries are so life threatening that technically, she dies twice on the way to the hospital. Her lungs, liver, kidneys, bladder and bowel are all perforated.
But Kim survives.
She will later discover that her injuries are far worse than even the horrific scarring that covers her body.
A jury finds Mick Philpott guilty of attempted murder and wounding with intent. He’s sentenced to seven and a half years for attempted murder and a concurrent five years for GBH.
Totally unrepentant of his actions and incapable of empathising with his victim, he writes to Kim:
“He wrote to me on the basis of ‘I know that you’ll forgive me and I didn’t mean to do any harm. Come and see me soon...and when I get out, we’ll start again and get married’...I was gobsmacked, literally gobsmacked...he was prattling on like he was on holiday.”
Within four years of nearly disembowelling another human being, Mick is released. It’s 1982.
When he’s released from prison, he marries his first wife. They have three children.
The domestic violence is constant. But she’s too afraid to leave or report him to the police. He reminds her of what happened to his last woman. She just hopes that one day he will decide to leave her.
Her salvation comes in the form of 16-year-old Heather Kehoe. The forty something Mick runs away with her. Heather finds him sometimes ‘charming, always domineering, always in control.’
Mick’s plan is simple. Take his children away from his first wife and move them in with Heather.
This doesn’t happen. Instead, Heather has two children. Mick’s sexual and physical abuse is so unrelenting she flees without them. After a lengthy court battle, she wins custody. For Mick it is only the beginning of his campaign against her. She will endure years of allegations.
Then Mick meets Mairead. The single mum of one had been in an abusive relationship and sees Mick as a guardian angel. She eagerly moves in.
“She was ideal for Philpott, she was vulnerable, she was young, she was needy, she was isolated.”
Emma Kenny, Psychologist
But even Mairead is uneasy when in 2001, Mick meets 17-year-old single mother, Lisa Willis, and makes her his mistress. But desperate not to lose a sense of security she’s never known before, Mairead agrees to an unusual arrangement.
Mick parks a caravan in the front garden and typically uses it on alternate nights to have sex with his Mairead or Lisa.
“I service both of them if they both want it the same night.”
Unfaithful himself, Mick is obsessed with infidelity. He believes her brother-in-law fathered Lisa’s eldest child. He repeatedly beats her to get her to confirm his suspicion. Despite the violence, she never does.
Over the next decade, the household expands until there is Mairead and her six children, Lisa and her five children, and, of course, Mick.
Mick is the biological father of nine of those children.
But the children mean nothing to him. Their number only demonstrates the size of his family empire.
“Of all the offenders that I’ve researched, Philpott is the most narcissistic offender I have ever come across.”
Dr Keri Nixon, Forensic Psychologist
It’s Mairead and Lisa who ensure the children are well fed and clothed and regularly attend school. There is no reason for social services to intervene.
The two women also work to supplement the household income. But all their wages and welfare benefits are paid into Mick’s bank account.
With no reason to work, he doesn’t.
The Philpott income from benefits alone will eventually be in excess of sixty thousand pounds a year.
“His children become numbers, numbers equal money: The more children, the more money; the more children, the better the opportunity in terms of housing. Children were just another part of Philpott’s selfish egocentric, narcissistic anti-social personality to get what Philpott wants.”
Dr Keri Nixon
His domestic violence has lessened but his control is still absolute. Mairead and Lisa aren’t even permitted a front door key. Whatever he orders, they obey. He is King Pin.
In 2003, he marries Mairead. Her bridesmaid is Lisa.
Mick develops an obsession with Lisa. On three occasions he asks Mairead for a divorce in order to marry Lisa. These are some rare examples of Mairead refusing him. She will risk everything, including her children, but she will not lose her marriage.
SUPER-SCOUNGER SHAMELESS MICK
Their home in Allenton, Derby is a three-bedroom semi detached. Even with the caravan, three adults and nine children make conditions cramped. When Mick makes both Mairead and Lisa pregnant at the same time, he asks Derby council for a bigger house. They say that nothing is available.
Believing a television appeal will get him a bigger house, in 2006, Mick does the talk-show rounds, tabloid interviews and documentary requests.
When MP Ann Widdecombe suggests he works to support his family, Mick calls her an ‘interfering bitch.’
“Some people call me a scrounger, but I’m not. I’m just a good father.”
His publicity drive fails to secure a bigger council house. It does, however, lead to a nickname that plays on the title of a popular fictional series about Britain’s underclass. Philpott is now known nationally as ‘Shameless Mick’.
He becomes the personification of the worst excesses of the welfare state and shorthand for everything that is wrong with Britain.
In February 2012, Lisa tells Mairead she’s taking her children swimming. In fact, they’re all leaving. So as not to raise suspicion, they leave with only the clothes they’re wearing; and, of course, their swimming costumes.
This will later be said to be the ‘catalyst’ or trigger for the resultant tragedy.
At first, Mick tries sweet talking Lisa back. He then resorts to bullying. When that fails he devises a plan.
55-year-old Mick Philpott is now the biological parent of at least fifteen children.
He is father to none.
He’s about to become the killer of six.