For some of you who don’t live in the UK, it may be worth mentioning at the start of this story, that the welfare system here is very generous. In fact, I would struggle to think of another country, where a large part of citizens, who are fully capable of working, would rather sit at home because the state pays more for doing nothing. The news on benefit bonanza in UK has been known around the world for years and millions of immigrants and asylum seekers have come to the land of Shakespeare to experience the “free bank” as they call it. If the perpetual motion machine existed, the British welfare system would be it.

There are many cases, where families on benefits are much better off than families where both parents work, too many to list in just a short blog post. What I will concentrate on today, is just one example of a benefit fraud, where the “genius” plan didn’t go quite as expected, and ended up being a horrible case of manslaughter.

The people of Britain have just one enemy this week and if given a chance to walk free from his crime and prison sentence, it’s safe to say someone would have stabbed him on the way home. I am talking about Mick Philpott, one time star of the Jeremy Kyle TV show, today a convicted criminal with not much hope for parole. The drug-taking layabout is not a newbie to prison system. He has been jailed before for trying to kill a schoolgirl lover, stabbing her 27 times after she ended their relationship. This time however it’s for good.

The former baker found a new vocation that turned out to also be the most lucrative business of his life: impregnating. With high virility he managed to breed 17 babies by five women to milk benefits system generating £60,000 a year.

Mick Philpott pictured with his wife Mairead, centre, his mother Peggy, right, and sons Jesse, right in green, and John (far right)

Mick Philpott pictured with his wife Mairead, centre, his mother Peggy, right, and sons Jesse, right in green, and John (far right)

His family setup was far from traditional, unless you are a mormon. He got married to his wife Mairead in 2003, a year after Philpott’s 17-year-old girlfriend Lisa moved in. The women shared his bed (or to be precise, his caravan parked outside of their house) and housework, while he did spend his days watching TV. He demanded all the money from welfare to be transferred in to his account and allegedly neither his wife nor the girlfriend had the keys to the house, since he kept the only copy. He was agressive, he used to rape them and beat them, yet this set up stayed strong for years. Mairead’s sisters Jennifer and Bernadette could only visit their sister when Mick wasn’t around. They had frequently tried to rescue her and the children, but the closest they ever got to convincing anyone to leave the house was for Bernadette to have Duwayne, 13, for a sleepover. She said later, that the boy was in terrible state and when taken out for a pizza with her son: “I had never seen a child eat so fast in my life.”

Both Mairead and Lisa could have left, but instead they stayed and together they brought 10 of his kids to this world (on top of seven he had with three other women). Philpott had 6 children with his wife and 4 with his girlfriend (who also had a child with her ex neighbour). All three of them lived together with their 11 kids.

Philpott wasn’t famous for his hygiene, and as his girlfriend Miss Willis stated, he only showered once a month and never changed his clothes. She said, that when children approached him for help with homework or to read to them, he would tell them to speak to the women because he was “trying to watch telly”. Even though he treated the kids as cash cows, the women claimed he was a “good father”, because he was never violent towards the children.

Miss Willis must have said all those “nice things” things out of guilt, since as it turned out, she cheated on her boyfriend with his grown up son from one of the previous relationships. At one point, however, she came to her senses and in February 2011 she moved out of the Philpott home taking her five children with her, together with a £1000 a month that until then used to land in her boyfriend’s bank account.

He didn’t like that and wanted his kids back. If you think it was because he suddenly had a change of hearts and missed his kids, well.. it wasn’t quite the case. On top of the £1000 that was no longer getting, he was also eyeing a larger property, and now with only 6 kids living in his house, “the council upgrade” was even less likely than before.

Together with his wife Mairead, he came up with a plan that would make him a look like a hero and give him a chance to get a bigger council house – something he had been demanding from the authority ever since his notorious appearance on Jeremy Kyle in 2006. After a brief deliberation they decided to set fire to the family home they all shared, whilst the kids were in bed.

The plan, as it so often happens with those, must have looked flawless in his head, because they decided to procede with it. It all seemed quite simple: he’s going to put a ladder against the back wall of the house and rescue their children after starting the fire. The council would then provide them with a new place to live, which he hoped will be bigger than the current one. He was also hoping to regain the custody over his kids with Lisa, so that he can get more welfare money in his account.

Prior to the incident, he started spreading rumours that his former lover had threatened his home and his children, and less than a fortnight before the fire, he reported to police that she had made a telephone threat to kill him. It would probably help in his court defence had the plan actually worked. Except it didn’t.

The ladder that was meant to help him evacuate the kids from the burning house.

The ladder that was meant to help him evacuate the kids from the burning house.

The fire spread much faster than any of them anticipated due to the fact they have used too much petrol. Fire investigators said temperatures in the upstairs bedrooms would have reached more than 500C (932F) during the blaze and that anyone in those rooms did not stand a chance of survival.

“Thick, black smoke would have quickly filled each of the rooms from floor to ceiling, rendering Jade Philpott, 10, and her brothers Duwayne, 13, John, nine, Jack, eight, Jesse, six, and Jayden, five, unconscious in minutes.

From the moment the fire was set in the hallway in the early hours of May 11, the flames would have surged up the uPVC front door, melting the plastic, and quickly progressed up the staircase with the help of varnished wood panelling.

All the upstairs doors were open during the blaze, allowing the smoke to quickly flood the three bedrooms in which the youngsters slept.

Soon after the fire, Mick and Mairead Philpott made a tearful appeal on national television for information, but it was all a ruse to try to cover their tracks.” reported the Daily Mail.

Justice has been served and all parties involved have been jailed.

We can all ask questions: whose fault was it? Was it the system that failed to check up on the Philpotts’ family more often? Should there be less money available to people with more than three kids, when the parent’s refuse to work? Has the government failed due to making welfare so easily available? If that was not the case, I really don’t think either of them would ever decide to have such a big family, which in their case clearly shows the motives behind having more kids.

The fact remains however, that the 6 babies have died in the most horrific circumstances and their deaths were more than avoidable.

In case you think this was just a terrible accident that has changed him forever and opened his eyes on what he has done, I will leave you with this last fact: straight after he buried his kids by turning funeral funds donated by the local community into Argos vouchers.


Mick Philpott with his 6 kids that died in the fire.

Mick Philpott with his 6 kids that died in the fire.