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Trial date set as Irish fire mum barred from children’s funerals

 

The Irish mother and her husband charged with killing their six children in an arson attack will go on trial for their murder next year.

 

At a preliminary hearing at Nottingham Crown Court on Monday Mr Justice Charles Haddon-Cave told Mick Philpott, 55, and his wife Mairead, 31, they will go on trial on January 14.

 

Mrs Philpott, whose parents are from Dublin and moved to Derby in the 1960s, wore a beige knitted jumper and was seen to kiss a crucifix she was wearing around her neck.

 

While Mr Philpott, the father of 17 children by five different partners,  wore a purple jumper, black tracksuit bottoms and a St Christopher as he stared straight ahead in the dock.

 

The couple are charged with murder following a blaze at their home in Allenton, Derby, on May 11.

 

Jade Philpott, 10, and brothers John, nine, Jack, eight, Jessie, six and Jayden, five, all lost their lives in the tragedy. Duwayne, 13, died in Birmingham Children’s Hospital two days later.

 

There was a packed public gallery for the short hearing but there were no outbursts such as those at the couple’s two previous court appearances.

 

The pair were remanded into custody to next appear for a plea and case management hearing at Nottingham Crown Court on November 5.

 

The couple have also been refused permission to attend the funerals of their children this week — because of fears of a “lynch mob”.

 

Both had both begged for compassionate leave to go to but their applications were rejected after police and the Prison Service carried out a risk assessment.

 

Death threats and warnings of vigilante attacks were taken so seriously, they concluded their safety could not be guaranteed.

 

As a result it is believed governors at the prisons where the pair are being held on remand blocked their requests, concluding that even escorted visits — where they would have been handcuffed to prison officers as they walked in the funeral cortege — would have been too dangerous.

 

Even the couple’s own family fear the pair would be targeted by thugs angry at their alleged involvement in the horrific firebug attack on their own semi-detached council house.

 

The Philpotts’ priest, Father Alan Burbidge, who tended the family in the wake of the tragedy and will conduct the funeral, confirmed after being contacted by the Prison Service the parents had been keen to attend the service, but they would not now be present.

 

Hundreds of mourners are expected to go to the funerals, with six horse-drawn hearses each carrying a coffin.

 

The services have been planned for Friday, followed by a burial at Nottingham Road cemetery in the Chaddesden area of the city.

 

Father Burbidge said: “We have had confirmation the parents of the six children will not be attending the funeral which will take place at St Mary’s Catholic Church at 11am. The family has chosen that church as a venue because they are Catholic children and they wanted a full Requiem Mass in a Catholic church.”

 

Earlier, Father Burbidge, 70, who has roots in west Clare, had admitted the parents’ presence would make the funerals “difficult to manage as a dignified goodbye”.

 

Shattered local people have raised more than £14,000 to pay for the funeral and burials.

 

One fundraiser said: “It’s the right decision not to allow the parents to attend. People are innocent until proven guilty, but some people might have lost their heads — Mick and Mairead could have been lynched.

 

“The police would have had a hell of a job to keep order. Those poor kids deserve a decent burial without any aggro.”

 

Despite these angry scenes, Mick Philpott’s eldest son Richard, 25, who has helped organise the funerals, said the couple should be able to attend.

 

He said: “The public should not judge them. They need to be able to say goodbye.”

 

A Prison Service spokesman said: “Prisoners can apply for escorted visits to attend the funeral of a close relative but it is always subject to a strict risk assessment where public protection is key.”

 

 

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