The Philpotts: guilty of emotional deception

A fire starts mysteriously. Six children die. The police arrest and charge their parents (and a friend) with manslaughter, for starting the fire deliberately.

The plan was to start the fire, blame the woman with whom they were engaged in a custody dispute, rescue them and claim the moral high ground as heroes. But the plan went wrong. Too much gasoline. The children were beyond help.

Last week, the jury found the three defendants guilty. We must conclude, then, that this performance was an attempt at emotional deception. So it seemed to me and many others, including the police. See for yourself:

It was a stupid idea that went disastrously and predictably wrong. Had they at least admitted this their guilt might have been accompanied by a small measure of pity, for their foolishness. But to attempt to deceive the public with this simulated grief at a press conference they called themselves compounds their guilt and puts them into that most feared category in British public opinion—the monster. They will be fortunate to survive in prison.

For those who want the background to this story, I covered this case earlier, in these posts:

The Philpott file updated. February 12, 2013

Simulating is not pretending: Observations on Mairead and Mick Philpott, May 31, 2012

Real or false grief?: Couple charged with killing own children. May 29, 2012

What can we learn about emotional deception from the Philpott case? June 5, 2012

Reading faces, inferring intent. May 28, 2012

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