Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Penistone fire death boy blamed dad for starting blaze

Darren Sykes with his two sons Paul and Jack Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Darren Sykes poured petrol around his house while sons Paul, left, and Jack, right, played with a new train set upstairs

A father who killed himself and his sons in a deliberate house fire was identified by one of the boys as the culprit behind the blaze.

Darren Sykes, 44, set fire to his home in Penistone, South Yorkshire after luring Jack, 12, and brother Paul, nine, there with new a train set.

Sheffield Coroner's Court heard Jack, who later died, told doctors and police his father had set the house on fire.

Both boys were unlawfully killed, coroner Christopher Dorries ruled.

Mr Sykes, who had been divorced for two weeks at the time of the fire, was caught on CCTV buying petrol in portable containers from a filling station near his home in Tennyson Close on the day of the blaze.

'He did it'

He died in the fire on October 22 along with Paul.

Monday's inquest into his death recorded a verdict of suicide.

Before his death, Jack was heard to say "he did it" to doctors and police, the inquest heard.

Claire Sykes, the boys' mum, told the court she still carries guilt for what happened.

She wished she had been home earlier from work, she said, and been able to stop Jack and Paul from going to see their father.

"I wasn't there when they really needed me as a mum," she added outside court.

Image caption The fire broke out in Tennyson Close on 22 October

"The only thing I could do was hold them in my arms when they died."

Andre Spencer, Mr Sykes' former boss, said he was one of a number of people to get a text from his employee just moments before the fire started.

"To be honest, I thought he was being a bit dramatic and that he would be at work the following day," he said.

"It was only when I got a phone call from another person who received the same message that we decided to contact the police.

"He was very depressed. He thought that he was going to lose access to his children."

Barnsley Council said it had begun a serious case review into the deaths.

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