The heartbroken mum of two little boys killed by a horror blaze today blamed her estranged husband for their deaths, saying: “They were murdered by their father.”
In a heart-rending message posted online just hours after her 12-year-old son, Jack, died, grieving mum Claire Sykes said: “My boys were murdered by their father - but he never had their hearts, and they will stay with me forever.”
Jack’s little brother Paul, nine, perished in the blaze at the family home on Tennyson Close, Penistone, last Wednesday, along with his dad Darren, 44.
But Jack clung to life for another five days before succumbing to his horrific injuries on Monday night.
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The Penistone Grammar schoolboy - covered head to toe in special bandages - died in his mum’s arms.
A picture posted by Claire on Facebook showed her elder son lying in his hospital bed hooked up to machines, with only his eyes and nose visible.
“I’m sorry to say Jack passed away in spite of his sheer determination and spirit,” said Claire. “It was just too big a mountain to climb.
“Jack is now reunited with Paul, but every day I was at his bedside reading to him and talking to him he knew I was there and I was with him. As he died he was in my arms, just as Paul was. I told him I love him, but my life now will never be the same.”
In an earlier post Claire also spoke of her love for younger son Paul, who was pulled out of the burning, smoke-filled house by firefighters but could not be saved.
“I was privileged to be Paul’s mum and when he was dying I got to hold him in my arms and tell him how much I loved him. He died in my arms but I will cherish my memories of him forever,” she said.
Claire used her Facebook page to urge other parents to treasure their time with their children.
“To all the mums and dads out there, please enjoy Halloween. Carve pumpkins for your children - treasure every minute you share as a family,” she said. “Remember to hold your children tight and cherish every moment. You never know what’s round the corner.”
Claire and her carpet fitter husband separated earlier this year.
Police and fire investigators have ruled the blaze was started deliberately. They found several seats of fire inside the semi-detached property, and evidence an accelerant had been used to fuel the flames.
Detectives are not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.
Rev David Hopkin, of St John’s Church, Penistone, who baptised both Paul and Jack, told The Star: “It is tragic, absolutely tragic.”
He opened his church yesterday for locals to pray for the family, and admitted he ‘could have run into the corridor and burst into tears’ when he visited Paul’s school, Spring Vale, last week.
“It is a very difficult time for the community, everybody I meet has been affected by it. It has had a ripple effect,” he said.
“Our hearts and thoughts are with the family as they come to terms with this horrendous tragedy.”
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “Detectives investigating the fire have confirmed it was started deliberately and that an accelerant was used. Police are not looking for anyone else.
“The investigation continues on behalf of the coroner.”
Flowers, cards, letters, pictures and poems have been left at the fire-damaged family home and outside Paul’s school.