South Yorkshire mum who lost kids at the hands of ex-husband in arson attack calls for change in the law

Picture shows Darren Sykes with his sons Paul, left, and Jack.
Picture shows Darren Sykes with his sons Paul, left, and Jack.
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A South Yorkshire mum whose two sons died in a house fire lit deliberately by her ex-husband is spearheading a campaign to make sure it can never happen again.

Claire Throssell lost her sons Jack, aged 12, and Paul, aged nine, after their father Darren Sykes set fire to a house in Tennyson Close, Penistone, in October 2014.

Brothers Paul, left, and Jack with mum Claire.

Brothers Paul, left, and Jack with mum Claire.

Sykes, who was separated from Ms Throssell, lured his sons into the attic with the promise of a new train set before barricading the house and setting fire to it. The 44-year-old dad and son Paul died that evening, while Jack died five days later in hospital.

An inquest into the deaths heard that Sykes had been 'worried about how much he would be able to see the children after recently divorcing' from Ms Throssell.

The grieving mum is now calling for a change in the law to ensure family courts don't allow known abusers to continue having unsafe access that puts the lives of children and women in danger.

She teamed up with charity Women's Aid to launch the Child First: Safe Child Contact Saves Lives campaign, which has now attracted more than 42, 000 signatures on a petition calling for better protection.

Ms Throssell and other campaigners today marched on 10 Downing Street to present the petition to justice minister Liz Truss MP and education minister Justine Greening MP.

She said: "No parent should have to hold their children and comfort them as they die, or be told that their child has been harmed in an act of revenge or rage."

Grandmother Pamela, aged 75, said: "We were devastated when we lost those two boys. But the way Claire has stood up and tried to do something so that it doesn't happen to anyone else is amazing."

Women's Aid said over the last 10 years 19 children and two women have died as a result of unsafe child contact.

A spokesperson said: "Whilst only a minority of child contact cases, after the parents have separated, are taken to the family courts many of these cases involving domestic abuse result in contact decisions which do not put the children's safety and best interests first. This can leave them, and their non-abusive, parent in considerable danger."