A woman convicted of the manslaughter of her six children in a horrific house fire has been spotted enjoying a shopping trip.
Mairead Philpott needed help stuffing a grey Peugeot full of items – including wrapping paper – as she left a bail hostel in the south of England.
The 39-year-old was sporting a new darker hair colour following her release from prison in December after half her 17-year sentence.
She was jailed over a 2012 fire in Allenton, Derby, that killed Duwayne Philpott, 13, his sister Jade, 10, and brothers Jack, nine, John, eight, Jesse, six and Jayden, five.
Her husband Mick led her and their friend Mosely a scheme to get a bigger council house by burning down the home and framing ex-lover Lisa Willis for the crime.
His intention was to rescue the sleeping children through an upstairs window but the plan went disastrously wrong and the youngsters all died from smoke inhalation.
Mairead Philpott left the facility where she has been staying since her release from prison in January
She was helped by staff to stuff shopping bags into her car and was sporting a new, darker hair colour
The 39-year-old has to keep her ankle tag on while she is on licence
Last month it emerged the killer jailed alongside the couple for the manslaughter of his six children was set to be released from prison halfway through his sentence. Pictured: Mairead today
Pictures taken today show Mairead still has a tattoo to Jayden, who she called ‘miracle baby’ during her trial because he came six weeks early.
Two of her friends helped her as she left the hostel in boots, leopard-style trousers and an oversized t-shirt.
She covered her face with a blue mask but her new hair was on show and struck a stark change from her former red locks.
A source told the Sun: ‘She is being eased back into life in the community. If she continues to comply with her probation requirements she will be able to slip back into life somewhere largely undetected. She’s very much hoping for a fresh start.’
Mairead was said to be ‘delighted’ at being given her earliest possible release date from HMP Send in Surrey in December.
She was due to stay at the hostel for three months before being freed under a new name. She has a 7pm to 7am curfew.
News of her imminent release was slammed by the Centre For Crime Prevention think-tank, which said: ‘This is not justice.’
The taxpayer will cover thousands of pounds worth of costs for Philpott to stay in a hostel with a new identity.
Initially the couple received an outpouring of sympathy, and wept at a press conference as they appealed for help to find the killer or killers.
But their behaviour later aroused suspicions and the pair were subsequently charged alongside Mosely.
At Mick Philpott’s sentencing, the judge described the plot as ‘a wicked and dangerous plan’ that was ‘outside the comprehension of any right-thinking person’.
She said there was ‘no precedent’ for the case, describing it as a ‘uniquely grave set of offences’.
The Philpotts and Mosely were found guilty of manslaughter. Mick was sentenced to life in prison and Mairead and Mosely to 17 years.
The killer couple divorced after being jailed.
The father-of-seventeen, who married Mairead in 2003, used his children to drag in an astonishing £60,000 a year in benefits.
Philpott, who had previously been jailed for stabbing his schoolgirl lover 27 times, wove a web of lies trying to get away with the crime and even plotted to ‘get rich quick’ off generous donations from the local community meant to pay for the funerals of his children.
David Spencer at the Centre for Crime Prevention said: ‘It makes an absolute mockery of the UK’s criminal justice system.
‘She has served barely more than a year for each of the six innocent lives she callously took away.’
A source also told the publication: ‘Her convoy was like one given to a celebrity rather than a mum who killed her six children.’
She will be living in a 20-bed half-way house and carried a bag filled with her belongings as she walked inside.
She will leave after three months with a new name and a 7pm to 7am curfew.
Last night, Philpott’s mother Vera, 62, said she was angry her daughter had been released so early.
In October, it emerged that Mick Philpott didn’t want to visit his son, 13, on his deathbed as the teenager battled injuries from the fire started by his father.
Revealing the harrowing detail for the first time in Channel 5’s 5 Mistakes That Caught A Killer retired Detective Superintendent Paul Callum, who helped lead the investigation said Philpott had to be convinced by support officers to visit dying son Duwayne.
After finally agreeing to go, he flirted with staff and his behaviour left detectives convinced the father-of-17 was responsible for his children’s deaths.
Philpott was sentenced to life in prison and Mairead to 17 years after their children Jade, ten, John, nine, Jack, seven, Jesse , six and Jayden, five, died from smoke inhalation in the May 2012 fire at the family home in Osmaston, Derby.
The documentary lays bare the five mistakes committed by Mick, Mairead and their accomplice Paul Mosley, which included the couple’s suspicious press conference days after the fire, and Mick’s inappropriate behaviour at the hospital and mortuary.
The programme also looks at the couple’s outrageous night out that saw Philpott sing Elvis songs at a local pub in the wake of his children’s deaths, the conversations between Mick and Mairead recorded by police and the petrol found on his clothes.
‘He didn’t want to go across to Birmingham where Duwayne was effectively dying from his injuries,’ Callum said.
‘And my understanding his that the family liaison officers had to persuade him to go across to Birmingham to see Duwayne,’ he added.
Once he finally made the visit, officers were tipped off that Phillpot had acted inappropriately and flirted with nursing staff looking after his dying son.
Philpott was equally as inappropriate when he visited the Derby mortuary to formally identified his dead children.
Callum revealed: ‘He chatted up the mortuary technicians.
‘He made inappropriate comments about their breasts, about things he wanted to do with them sexually.
‘He would then collapse into a pile and pretend he was upset. Then he’d sit up and say something inappropriate. He was a very strange character.
‘At the mortuary we know that he called his children ‘little s***s’, which in any context that children have died, I don’t know how that can be deemed as appropriate.’
Mick’s long-time friend Mick Russell, who has since been one of his prison pen-pals, accompanied him to the mortuary and recounted the chilling moment in the documentary.
‘He was smiling and cracking jokes and that. And then we went in and had the children in the room,’ Russell said.
The family friend said he was more upset about the death of the children than his pal appeared to be.
‘They was all lined up. Five little kids lying there with burns on their arms and hands. I just broke down crying.’
Philpott suspicious antics were one of the five main mistakes which led to his conviction.
The documentary lists the four others, starting by the press conference which was given by Mick and Mairead after the fire, and which was deemed disingenuous by many.
Local reporter Martin Naylor, who was at the press conference for the Derby Telegraph, said that all journalists present could tell the couple’s grief was ‘crocodile tears,’ as they dabbed their dry eyes with tissues.
‘We all looked at each other and our faces had changed and that was when all of us thought ‘something’s not right’,’ Naylor said.
‘I think what he was trying to do is sort of say to everybody: ‘This is how victims behaved, now I’ve done that, that’s the end of it’, and then the case would move on and perhaps the heat on him would have gone away,’ officer Callum guessed.
‘After the press conference we were getting calls from everybody saying: ‘It’s obvious it’s Mick and Mairead, why are you not arresting him’,’ he added.
Martin Naylor also recounted how Mick attempted to cash in on the teddy bears left by well-wishers in front of the house by trying to sell them
A visit to a local pub, the Navigation Inn was also one of the incriminating mistakes made by the couple in the run up to their arrest.
‘They did think they were celebrities, landlady of the Inn Jeanette Doherry said.
‘I would say they were enjoying the attention.
‘They were drinking double Jack Daniel’s, they appeared to be very tipsy, they were kissing and touching each other and he’s running his hand through her hair,’ she recounted.
‘It wasn’t very appropriate.
‘He was singing ‘Suspicious Minds [by Elvis Presley] which was a very strange song to pick,’ Doherty added.
‘And everybody was saying ‘Why would he be doing this after his children have died?’. They weren’t grieving parents.’
During the investigation, with their house destroyed by the fire, Mick and Mairead were staying in a hotel, which, unbeknownst to them, had been tapped by police.
The couple’s third mistake was to discuss their police interviews in their hotel room, trying to get their stories to match.
In outrageous recording which can be heard in the documentary, Mick could be heard asking his wife: ‘What did you say about how many times I went up ladders?
And Mairead could be heard replying: ‘I lost count how may times you went up thr ladders.’
The couple had tried to paint Mick as a hero that had climbed the ladders several times to save the kids from the blaze.
The police also tapped a police van transporting Mairead and Mick to prison after their arrest.
Mick could be heard whispering: ‘Are you sticking to the story?’ to his wife.
Another mistake was that, early on in the investigation, Mick blamed his ex-mistress, who had left him months before the blaze, for the fire.
This led police to talking to her, Callum explained.
‘In the first 24 hours, Mick was telling anybody he could that it was his ex-girlfriend who had started the fire because of the legal court case and that he had been harassed by her,’ he said.
‘We deliberated for quite some time over this and we felt the only way to manage this would be to arrest her.
However, it became clear very quickly that she had nothing to do with the fire, which had the officers circle back to Mick.
Finally, the most crucial mistake committed by the couple, which secured their arrest and linked them directly to the crime scene, was the traces of petrol found on their clothes by forensic experts.
The fire had been lit by spreading a large quantity of petrol at the bottom of the stairs in the Philpott home.
Forensic expert Rebecca Jewell explained in the documentary that she was able to determine that the petrol found on the clothes of Mairead, Mick and their friend Paul Mosley was Shell petrol, the same petrol used in the arson.
Rebecca recounted testifying in court during Mick, Mairead and Paul’s trial. She said: ‘I didn’t want to catch his eyes.
‘It was chilling. I’ve seen suspects obviously every time I’ve given evidence, but that does remain, in my mind, as one of the most chilling stares that a suspect has ever given me.’
Mick is currently serving a life sentence with a minimum of 50 years.