Parents arrested over murder of six children in Derby house fire
A FATHER-of 17 who was dubbed 'Shameless Mick' in a TV documentary, has been arrested over the murder of six of his children along with their mother.
Jade Philpott, 10, and brothers John, nine, Jack, eight, Jessie, six, and Jayden, five, all died in the fire in Allenton, Derby, England on May 11.
Their brother Duwayne Philpott, 13, died of his injuries in Birmingham Children's Hospital two days later with his parents at his bedside.
Last week Derbyshire Police began a forensic search of a caravan used by Mr Philpott and his wife Mairead, 31.
Mr Philpott, 55, had told investigating officers he was on the ground floor of the property with his wife when the fire was started, and was alerted by a smoke alarm. Police at the time said he had made a 'valiant effort' to save the children.
Later it emerged that petrol had been used as an accelarant and the start of the fire was below the letterbox in the front door.
Today Mr and Mrs Philpott were arrested on suspicion of murder.
Mr Philpott, was dubbed "Shameless Mick" in 2007 for his benefit claims and refusal to get a job in a TV documentary by former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe.
After the fire Mr Philpott broke down in tears at a press conference as spoke about the tragedy.
At the time he said: "I want to thank my three eldest children because they have helped me to cope with what's going off.
"And of course, the poor firemen, the police, the ambulance staff, the doctors, the nurses, literally everybody who tried to help to save our children but couldn't."
He then wept as senior investigating officer Steve Cotterill told him: "If you want to leave you can."
Mr Philpott said: "No, I'm OK" before continuing to talk.
He said: "We have decided that through our son, Duwayne, who was unfortunately the last one to pass away, that we are going to donate his organs to save another child which is what we want because if we can save another child then that makes us happy.
"Effectively that will take some of the pain away.
"We can't express our gratitude enough to everybody that has been concerned with the case and what's been going off.
"I have actually been down to our home and what we saw we just cannot believe it."
Mr Philpott then broke down for a second time before continuing. He said: "We grew up in a community that's had a lot of problems with violence and God knows what else and to see this community come together like they have is just too overwhelming.
"We have had people from America, France the travelling community, it's just overwhelming isn't it [turning to Mrs Philpott]?
"I can't express enough [our thanks for the] efforts of the police, the ambulance, the fire brigade. I mean, those poor gentlemen from the fire brigade saw what we did."
Today Mr Cotterill made a new appeal for witnesses to come forward.
“I suspect there may still be people with crucial information who have not yet come forward to speak to us.
“In view of the arrests, I would urge anyone who may have been holding back, not felt comfortable to voice their concerns or not had the confidence, to do so now. They have my personal reassurance that we will deal with their information sensitively.
“We still need information to help us in this inquiry. The latest arrests are just one step further in the investigation. It is absolutely vital that if you know anything you think could help us, come forward now, do not wait any longer. It is important that we find justice for these six young children.”
ACC Cotterill stressed that the investigation is still ongoing and will be a lengthy process. He added: “Although the fire happened more than two weeks ago, this is a complex inquiry and it will take time for us to piece together the events from that tragic evening.
“I know this case has deeply affected the local community and residents want answers as to what happened and why. But I would ask them to be patient and to continue to show the excellent support they have given us to date.
"Our investigations are detailed and painstaking and they will take time.”