Thursday 14 December 2017

Derby house fire: Funerals of six children may be in private to protect parents charged with murder

Lucy Bogustawski

THE funerals of six children killed in a house fire may have to be private because of fears for the safety of their parents.

Mick Philpott, 55, and his wife Mairead, 31, are accused of murdering their six children in the blaze in Victory Road, Allenton, Derby, on May 11.

As they appeared in court last week to face the charges relating to the deaths of 10-year-old Jade Philpott and her brothers, Duwayne, 13, John, nine, Jack, seven, Jesse, six, and Jayden, five, there were angry outbursts inside and outside the court.

In the days after the fire the community in Allenton publicly lent its support to the husband and wife, but it seems opinion has changed since police charged them with the killings.

During the couple's first appearance at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates' Court on Thursday, a man and woman were removed from the courtroom after shouting out "scum" and "bastards".

At Nottingham Crown Court the following day, a crowd of around a dozen people shouted insults at the security vans carrying the Philpotts as they made their way to and from court.

Philpott, said to have fathered 17 children, and his wife are both in custody and are thought to have applied to authorities for compassionate leave to attend the children's funerals.

They are believed to have been arranging for the funerals to take place at Derby Cathedral before their arrests.

But it has emerged that it may not be possible to hold a public service for fear of more outbursts from incensed locals and a private memorial may now take place instead.

The Prison Service has not confirmed if the couple have applied for leave, but said a risk assessment would be carried out as is standard practice if an application has been made.

A spokeswoman said: "We do not comment on the movements of individual prisoners.

"Prisoners can apply for escorted visits to attend the funeral of a close relative, but it will always be subject to a strict risk assessment where public protection is key."

The Philpotts will next appear at Nottingham Crown Court on June 18 for a preliminary hearing.

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