British couple jailed for killing six children in deliberate house fire

LONDON (AFP) - A British couple were handed long jail terms on Thursday for killing six of their children in a deliberate house fire.

Mick Philpott, 56, was jailed for life at Nottingham Crown Court in central England for the manslaughter of the children, while his 32-year-old wife Mairead was jailed for 17 years.

Philpott was told he would serve a minimum of 15 years and his wife at least eight and a half years over the deaths of their children in the fire at their home in nearby Derby on May 11 last year.

Mairead Philpott wept as she was jailed while her husband looked down at the floor, wiping tears from his eyes.

A third defendant, family friend Paul Mosley, was also jailed for 17 years.

Judge Kathryn Thirlwall said Mick Philpott was a "disturbingly dangerous man".

"You have no moral compass," she told him.

Family members in the court applauded as the judge finished her sentencing.

"Die, Mick, die," one shouted, while another called out: "Your own babies." Philpott smiled in response and made an obscene gesture as he was led from the dock.

Prosecutors said the couple set their home ablaze in a bid to frame Philpott's 29-year-old former live-in girlfriend and claim custody of her five children - four of which he fathered.

Philpott was supposed to have rescued the youngsters through a bedroom window - but the petrol-fuelled fire spread more quickly than planned and the window would not open.

With 17 children by five different mothers, Philpott was already a nationally notorious figure dubbed "Shameless Mick" by the press for his lifestyle, funded by hefty state welfare handouts.

All six children, who were aged from five to 13, died from smoke inhalation.

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