SYTECH Sponsored – The Investigator: Excellence in Investigation Awards 2014 – Best Major Crime – R -v- Philpott

Carolyne Van Schaick, Baldish Chahal, Robert Church, DC/Supt Andrew Hough, Supt Kate Meynall Daren Greener, Sytech sponsor, Alan Webster, head judge



The unlawful killing of six children in a house fire in Derby (Operation Morgan) in May 2012 shocked the nation and provided East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) with a difficult set of circumstances coupled with massive media attention.


The Senior Investigating Officer (SIO), Detective Superintendent Kate Meynall, who is from Nottinghamshire Police, built a dedicated investigative team from Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire Police forces, as part of the regions new collaborative response to major crime investigation.  However, this enquiry was much broader than a simple police investigation due to the unique family circumstances of the deceased children and the local community.


This case presented many challenges to the investigation team and supporting agencies.  The unlawful killing of six young children in their family home together with the unusual family set up and notoriety of the father, who had appeared on two national television programmes to talk about his lifestyle, attracted substantial national and regional media interest and coverage.


Initially a suspect was identified by the surviving parents Mick Philpott and his wife Mairead, who were present in the house at the time of the fire.  She was the previous mistress of the Philpott and had lived with the parents, their six children and her five children at the house.  Philpott was the father of four of those children as well.  She had left the house with her children several weeks before the incident.  She was quickly eliminated and within a few weeks the parents were declared suspects.


Eventually the Philpotts were arrested, initially they denied involvement in the fire maintaining an account that had been given in earlier interviews.  However, there were inconsistencies in those accounts and what was known about the fire. Evidence was used from covert recordings made at a hotel where they had stayed.  With this the Crown Prosecution Lawyer authorised charges of murder against both parents and they were remanded in custody.  A further covert recording from a vehicle used to escort the parents to court provided other evidence to support their joint involvement in the fire. A third suspect, Paul Mosley was identified, arrested and charged with murder. He was a close associate of the parents and had been with them on the night of the fire.


Mick Philpott was jailed for life with a minimum term of 15 years, Philpott’s wife, Mairead, and friend Paul Mosley were both sentenced to 17 years. They will not be eligible for release until they have served at least half their sentences.


This case demonstrates that an investigation into a major crime is not confined to the role of the police but is much wider involving experts and specialists from other agencies who together provide the Senior Investigating Officer with the support and information needed to successfully bring to justice those responsible for their crime.


The awards were hosted by The Investigator magazine and were held at Tally Ho, West Midlands Police Conference Centre in Birmingham on 29 January 2014. Nine awards were given out to UK police forces, the cases between them resulted in over 500 years in jail sentences.

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