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Derby House Fire Accused, Mick Philpott, 'Faked Faint' At Mortuary

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A man accused of killing his six children in a house fire faked a faint during a visit to see their bodies at a mortuary, a court has heard.

Marie Smith, manager of the mortuary at Royal Derby Hospital, told Nottingham Crown Court that Mick Philpott appeared to faint when he came with wife Mairead to view the children for the first time after the fire at their house in Derby in May last year.

Ms Smith told jurors: "It looked very unlikely to me that it was a genuine faint. Because of my experience working in that department, having seen many friends and relatives faint for whatever reason, it didn't appear to me to be genuine."

She said Philpott, who was lying in the recovery position when she went into the viewing room, apparently woke up when she mentioned getting a doctor.

"He immediately woke up and got up when I said I was going to get a doctor," she told the court.

Ms Smith told the court Philpott, who is accused with his wife and a third defendant, Paul Mosley, of manslaughter, referred to his children as "little s****" and indulged in "horseplay" with the family liaison officer who accompanied the family, putting him in a headlock during another visit.

"His behaviour seemed to be irrational. It wasn't fitting with what had taken place with the children. He'd be quite angry one minute and then be apologising to everyone the next - it didn't appear to be genuine."

She said during another visit it became "a circus", with around a dozen people turning up at the mortuary.

"There was quite a lot of people - about a dozen had come to mortuary that day. It was quite a circus - there was a lot of people present and a lot of to-ing and fro-ing out of the viewing area," Ms Smith told the court.

Prosecutor Richard Latham QC asked her: "What was happening with Mr Philpott and the family liaison officer?"

She replied: "It appeared there was a lot of horseplay going on - not with the family liaison officer but with Mick. He grabbed the family liaison officer around the neck like in a headlock - there was a lot of horseplay."

Ms Smith told the court that when she offered him some water, Philpott asked if some gin could be put in it.

"I've never in my experience had a relative make that request before," she told the court.

Cross-examining the witness, Mairead Philpott's barrister Shaun Smith QC asked what her behaviour was like during the visits.

Ms Smith said: "She didn't say a great deal and she spent a lot of time in silence or crying. She had her head down a lot."

The Philpotts are accused of setting a fire at their house in Victory Road on 11 May.

It is alleged the couple and Paul Mosley set the fire as part of a plan to frame Philpott's former mistress Lisa Willis after she left the Philpotts house taking her five children with her. The three deny six counts of manslaughter.

Earlier on Tuesday, the jurors heard from a woman who had received treatment at Derby Royal Hospital who said she overheard a conversation between Mr and Mrs Philpott and three other people just hours after the fire.

Louise Quantick told the court she saw the couple's children being brought into the hospital and went outside to have a cigarette.

While outside the hospital, she told the court she overheard Philpott say: "It wasn't meant to end like this."

The Philpotts' children - Jayden, five, Jessie, six, Jack, eight, John, nine, Jade, 10, and Duwayne, 13 - all died following the blaze.

The jury heard evidence from neighbour Erica Steadman, who said she had seen the children being taken out of the house on Victory Road on the night of the fire.

She told the court she was woken by a noise outside her house and heard a scream "she would never forget".

Ms Steadman told the court she ran outside and saw smoke and flames coming from the Philpotts' house.

"It was as though something had been poured on the door. The flames were orange and yellow in colour and the fire seemed to be on the outside of the door," she said.

Another neighbour told the court his wife had received a call while they were in their car on the day after the fire.

Scott Poxon said he answered the call from Philpott, who told him police had told him petrol had been used to start the fire.

"Mick told me 'The police have just told me that the bas***ds poured petrol through the letterbox'," Mr Poxon told the court.

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