On Tuesday 2 April 2013, Mick and Mairead Philpott and their friend Paul Mosley were convicted of the manslaughter of six children by setting fire to their house.
The background to the story can be found here (BBC).
The essence is that Mick and Mairead Philpott and their friend Paul Mosely hatched a plan to set fire to their house in an attempt to frame his live-in mistress, Lisa Willis. The prosecution case was that the motivation for seeking to frame Lisa Willis was that the ‘crime’ would help turn family law proceedings in relation to their children in Mick Philpott’s favour.
Five of the six children died on the morning of the fire and the sixth died three days later. The children were: Jade Philpott, 10, John, nine, Jack, eight, Jesse, six, and Jayden, five. Duwayne, 13, was Mairead Philpott’s son from a previous relationship.
The fire was far bigger than was anticipated and took hold of the house very quickly.
The court heard that Mick Philpott had a ‘violent past’, with a conviction for the attempted murder of a former girlfriend in 1987.
Manslaughter is divided into two: a) voluntary manslaughter and b) involuntary manslaughter. The former occurs when there is an intention to kill but a defence is present which reduces the conviction from murder to manslaughter. An example would be loss of control.
The latter, which is the case here, is where there is an absence of an intention to kill. Apart from the absence of the requisite intent, all other elements of the offence are the same as for murder.
There are two types of involuntary manslaughter, namely:
- that caused by the defendant’s gross negligence; and
- that caused by his unlawful or dangerous act.
It appears that in this case, this is ‘unlawful act’ manslaughter, with the act being arson.
Mick Philpott and Paul Mosley were found guilty by unanimous verdicts. Mairead Philpott was convicted by a majority after an 8 week trial.
The full sentencing remarks are available here, courtesy of Crimeline.
Mick Philpott was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 15 years. That is equivalent to a 30-year determinate sentence.
This means that he was considered ‘dangerous’ under the CJA 2003 and it will be up to the parole board whether he will be released, and if so when, after the expiry of his minimum term.
The BBC reported: Mrs Justice Thirlwall said, ‘I have not the slightest doubt that Mr Philpott was the driving force behind this shockingly dangerous enterprise.’ and that Philpott used his conviction for attempting to murder a girlfriend in 1978 to terrify other women, adding: “You have repeatedly used that conviction as a means of controlling other women, terrified as to what you would do to them.” She added.
Mairead Philpott received a determinate sentence of 17 years. That means she will be eligible for release after half.
Paul Mosely received a determinate sentence of 17 years. He will be eligible for release after half. The Judge said that there was no reason to treat the Mosely and Mairead Philpott any differently.
It is worth noting that Mick Philpott received a much higher sentence as the Judge considered him to be the driving and controlling force behind the plot.
The BBC News story reporting the sentences is here.
It may be of interest to know that had the three been convicted of murder, the starting point would have been a whole life tariff.