Parents in UK court over fire deaths of six children

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, May 31, 2012 7:09 EDT
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Derby fire house via AFP
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The parents of six children killed in a fire at their home appeared in court on Thursday charged with their murders.

Mick Philpott, 55, and his wife Mairead, 31, appeared flanked by several security guards in the dock at a magistrates court in Derby a day after being charged with the murders of the six children in the May 11 blaze.

They were remanded in custody and are to appear in a criminal court in the city of Nottingham on Friday.

The couple showed little emotion during proceedings in the packed courtroom, which were briefly interrupted by shouts of “scum” and “bastards” from the public gallery. A man and woman were escorted out of the courtroom following the disturbance.

Two weeks ago the couple gave an emotional press conference following the deaths of the children, who were aged five to 13.

They cried uncontrollably as they thanked neighbours and authorities for their efforts to save the children.

But on Tuesday they were arrested on suspicion of the killings.

Police earlier said the fire appeared to have started with petrol poured through the letterbox of their Derby home.

“I want to stress that the two charges this evening should not be seen as the end of the investigation,” assistant chief constable Steve Cotterill, of Derbyshire Constabulary, said Wednesday.

“We are determined to get to the truth of what happened and still want people to speak to us to tell us what they know about this tragedy.”

Police have said that during the fire the children’s father had made a “valiant” attempt to rescue them.

Mick Philpott made headlines in 2007 when he appeared in a television documentary about welfare made by a former prisons minister, Ann Widdecombe.

At the time he had 17 children and demanded that local authorities give him a larger house to share with his wife, girlfriend and eight of their children.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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