Couple charged after 6 kids die in fireComment on this story
Exactly nine years previously, Briton Mick Philpott and his beaming bride Mairead stood side by side as they posed for their wedding photographs.
On Thursday they stood side by side once more, but this time they were in the dock accused of killing their six children in an arson attack.
In a crowded courtroom, they were branded ‘scum’ and ‘b******s’ by a woman screaming abuse from the public gallery.
Then they were led handcuffed to the cells and remanded in custody as detectives continued to piece together how and why the youngsters came to die at their home.
The Philpotts are jointly charged with killing five of their children on May 11, when Jade, 10, and brothers John, nine, Jack, eight, Jesse, six, and Jayden, five, all perished in the fire. The sixth name on the charge was Duwayne, 13, who died two days later in hospital.
Mairead, 31, had all those names tattooed on her right arm as she stood in the dock in a sleeveless white summer dress.
Mick Philpott, 55, shook his head from side to side when the charges were read. He leaned forward to blow a kiss to one of his relatives and mouthed an obscenity at detectives before leaving the court.
Three weeks ago he had been hailed as a hero credited with “valiant” attempts to save the children as fire swept through the three-bedroom council house in Allenton, Derby.
Back in May 2003, when the couple married in a church near Derby, with four-year-old Duwayne as a pageboy and baby Jade as a bridesmaid, family and friends gathered to join the celebration.
On Thursday some of those same people were among 21 who filed solemnly into Court One at Southern Derbyshire magistrates court to see the pair face accusations of murder.
The hearing – the first time the couple have been brought to court since being charged – began with the sound of footsteps and the rattle of chains as a door swung open into the dock. Mick Philpott walked in first. He wore tracksuit trousers and a sleeveless grey vest that showed off the tattoos on otherwise bare arms. A small, slight, man, he was dwarfed by the security guard to whom he was handcuffed.
It took just a few paces to get from one end of the dock to the other but he covered the distance with a slight swagger, like an amateur fighter entering the ring.
Mairead was led in behind him. Even away from the female guards who flanked her, she looked tiny.
Their address was given as a Premier Inn in Derby, with their house now a tragic, blackened crime scene.
Detectives have established the fire was started deliberately with petrol at the front door.
“Scum!” a woman shouted from the public seats yards from the dock. “B******s! Scum!” Twenty-one heads in the family seats began to bob up over the rail to identify the source of the interruption. It was a 30-something woman in dark glasses who had earlier been queuing outside with an grey-haired man in a vest.
Mick Philpott, arms folded, simply fixed the pair with a stare. The couple ignored presiding magistrate Kath Heap’s warning that she wouldn’t tolerate disruption, and police duly escorted them out.
No plea was entered and no application for bail was made by the couple, who were represented by different solicitors. The case was sent to be heard at Nottingham Crown Court on Friday.
Mrs Heap told the couple they would be remanded in custody on grounds that they might interfere with witnesses, “and for your own protection”.
Philpott, a father of 17 children by five women, became known as “Shameless Mick” in 2007 after demanding a larger house to share with Mairead, his girlfriend Lisa Willis and eight of his offspring. - Daily Mail