Derby

How did Mick Philpott's body language reveal his deceit?

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionMick Philpott: "We just need to be left alone"

Police have condemned Mick Philpott's "shameful performance" at a press conference held days after the deaths of his children.

Earlier this week, Philpott was jailed, along with his wife Mairead and friend Paul Mosley, for killing six of his children in an arson revenge plot that went wrong.

In the days following the fire, in May 2012, officers already had doubts about Philpott's character, but were even more suspicious after he faced the media.

Reflecting on the press conference, Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cotterill, of Derbyshire Police, said: "After 30 years of doing what I do I have never seen anybody, having suffered that magnitude of loss, deal with it in the manner in which he dealt with it."

So how did Philpott's body language give him away?

Two experts give their views on the non-verbal communication during the press conference.

Lack of tears

"My gut reaction when I saw the footage was that they were shamming, primarily based on the fact that there didn't seem to be much in the way of actual tears," said body language and behaviour expert Judi James.

Body language expert Robert Phipps also noticed the lack of tears.

"All of these pictures show Mick using the tissue to dab away his tears but the tissue never gets wet and crumpled as would normally be the case," he said.

"Instead Philpott is using this to hide his eyes and face from cameras."

Static forehead

"In all the photos and throughout the whole press performance Mick's forehead wrinkles do not change, they stay static like he's had Botox injections," said Mr Phipps.

"This is not normal when expressing grief and sadness."

But in contrast, Mairead's forehead and eyebrows changed throughout the press conference.

"She expresses true grief and emotions whereas Mick does not," said Mr Phipps.

Ms James said: "The thing with criminal body language though is that they often feel no guilt which makes it very hard to spot textbook leakage signals."

ACC Cotterill said: "What was lacking, I think for me, was perhaps some heartfelt appeal in relation to finding the killer of his six children and proper displays of emotion, and maybe anger as well."

Eye signals

ACC Cotterill appeared to raise an eyebrow and look sideways in suspicion but Ms James said the photo is misleading.

"In the actual footage he was looking concerned and in fact leaned across to comfort Philpott," she said.

Mr Phipps said ACC Cotterill has wrinkles on his face which show he has a habit of raising his eyebrow in this way.

"He has to have been this quizzical 'one eyebrow up' man for at least 20 years," he said.

Mairead looked down during most of the press conference, which Mr Phipps said helped her to avoid making eye contact with people.

This could be an attempt to conceal the truth but could also show her lack of self-esteem.

Open palm gesture

"The open palm gesture is meant to portray honesty and openness, as this is what we do most of the time when we are being open and honest," said Mr Phipps.

"However, in this case we know it was a performance for the cameras to deflect attention away from himself."

Mairead Philpott did not speak during the press conference.

"She can't do or say anything because he is controlling the situation," said Mr Phipps.

"She's biting her lip, holding back, just like the expression biting your lip or tongue, so you don't say something you might regret."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites