Best on the Box: today our choice is over on Channel 5 who take a look at the appalling Mick Philpott and the mistakes he made with a scam that turned to tragedy.
Father-of-19, Mick Philpott caused the death of five of his children, and their half-brother, by setting light to his home in Derby. It was part of a twisted plot to win back custody of five more of his children from their mother – who he tried to blame for the blaze.
Even before the crime, Philpott was a tabloid villain, dubbed ‘Shameless Mick’ for his benefits funded lifestyle. He shared his three-bedroomed house with his wife and girlfriend, waging a public war with his local council who refused his demands for a bigger property.
When his girlfriend walked out with some of the children, he knew it would damage his campaign – and so hatched the reckless plan to get them back.
He was error-prone from the outset. Instead of setting a small fire, as intended, he ensured it would become a lethal inferno by using too much petrol. At a press conference afterwards, he raised suspicions by repeatedly raising a handkerchief to his eyes, but crying no tears.
He then outraged the local community by singing karaoke songs in a pub, before the children’s funerals had even been held.
With their house destroyed, Philpott and his wife Mairead were put up in a local hotel. But, unbeknown to them, the police had bugged their room. Over several days, officers heard them checking the stories and alibis they had given following the fire.
But, it was Philpott’s failure to dispose of the clothes he wore on the night of the blaze that ensured his eventual prosecution, and life sentence, for manslaughter.
Speaking for the first time, a forensic expert reveals how she was able to pinpoint the brand of petrol used to start the fire and match it to traces of the fuel found on Philpott’s socks and underwear.
Philpott: 5 Mistakes That Caught the Killer, Channel 5, 10pm