Mick Philpott, who is accused of killing six of his children in a house fire, was a controlling and jealous man who used to sleep with his wife and live-in lover on alternate nights, a jury hears.
Mick Philpott, 56, set fire to his own council house in an attempt to frame his mistress for arson after she walked out on him, Nottingham Crown Court has heard.
But he and wife Mairead’s children – Jade, 10, John, nine, Jack, eight, Jesse, six, Jayden, five, and Duwayne, 13 – all died as the flames engulfed their home in Victory Road, Allenton, Derby, in the early hours of May 11 last year.
Prosecutors say Philpott wanted revenge after Lisa Willis, 29, left the house with her five children, four of them fathered by the 56-year-old.
Miss Willis, 29, said she was 17 when she met Philpott. She was a bridesmaid at his wedding to Mairead, but began a sexual relationship with the younger woman after inviting her to move into the couple’s home.
We took it in turns, we never had all three of us together. Lisa Willis
She told Nottingham Crown Court: “We took it in turns, we never had all three of us together. We would take it in turns at night so one night it would be me, one night it would be Mairead.”
“Mick said he asked Mairead about it, if she was okay about it, and apparently she turned round and said she was fine”.
The children slept upstairs and the arrangement continued until they bought a caravan which stood on the driveway of the house.
The woman who would be sleeping with Philpott on any given night went to the caravan with him, while the other woman slept inside with the children.
Miss Willis said she became unhappy with the domestic arrangements, and told the court how Philpott had made her pay her wages into his bank account, controlling her finances as well as her movements.
I could not go out shopping on my own, I could not go into town. He would ask me questions – where I’m going, how long I’ll be and what for. Lisa Willis
“I could not go out shopping on my own, I could not go into town. He would ask me questions – where I’m going, how long I’ll be and what for.
“I could leave if I wanted to but I did not go out because I was so sick of all the questions and answers of when I’ll get back, so I did not bother.”
Miss Willis told the court that unemployed Philpott, who did nothing round the house except watch television, drove her to and from work and constantly accused her of having affairs with colleagues.
When she got a job as a cleaner, working from 6am until noon, Miss Willis said Philpott “said I was selfish for getting a job from 6 o’clock in the morning”.
Philpott was “lambasted as a benefits scrounger” on the Jeremy Kyle Show and in a documentary featuring the Conservative MP Anne Widdecombe, the court heard.
Miss Willis said Philpott repeatedly hit her on the legs, back and arms with a piece of wood early on in their relationship.
The witness denied threatening Philpott and his family, and said she was with her sister and children until 8pm the night before the fire. She denied going anywhere near 18 Victory Road that night.
Yes, he was a good father. Lisa Willis
Philpott’s barrister Anthony Orchard QC asked Miss Willis: “In relation to the children, you would agree that he was a good father?”
“Yes, he was a good father,” she replied.
He asked Miss Willis: “He would do nothing to endanger them?”
“No,” she said.
Philpott denies six counts of manslaughter in relation to the deaths of the six children. His wife and a third defendant, 46-year-old Paul Mosley, also deny the same six charges.