South Yorkshire woman joins charity following deaths of her sons killed by their dad

Claire Throssell and her sons, Jack and Paul
Claire Throssell and her sons, Jack and Paul

A South Yorkshire woman whose sons were killed by their dad has joined a charity helping victims of domestic abuse.

Claire Throssell, from Penistone, Barnsley, has joined the Independent Domestic Abuse Services' 'Champion Scheme' in Yorkshire to increase awareness of domestic abuse and the support available for victims.

Jack and Paul Sykes were killed by their dad

Jack and Paul Sykes were killed by their dad

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In October 2014, her two sons, Jack, aged 12, and Paul, nine, died after their dad, Darren Sykes, barricaded them inside his home and set fire to the house in Tennyson Close, Penistone, during a custody visit.

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Claire and her abusive husband had divorced two weeks earlier.

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Sykes, 44, had lured the boys into his attic to play with a train set and had barricaded them in with himself before starting the fire.

Jack survived initially, but died five days later after suffering burns to his head, chest and upper limbs, which became infected.

Paul and his father died at the scene from inhaling toxic fumes.

Since losing her sons, Claire has campaigned for an improved understanding of the impact and dangers of domestic abuse.

IDAS, the largest specialist domestic abuse service in Yorkshire, supports over 5,000 families each year.

Its 'champions' are trained to recognise the signs of domestic abuse, risk factors and what to do if they think someone might be affected.

They include members of local communities who want to make a difference, professionals, employers and survivors.

They also raise awareness of the support services which can help victims.

Claire said: "Domestic abuse is a silent killer and it can often continue through children after separation.

"We live in a democracy that stands against oppression and fear yet that is exactly what victims of domestic abuse live with every day and many of the victims are also children. It must stop, and it must stop now.

"Because of this, I am very proud to support IDAS and will do all that I can to raise awareness about their services."

Sarah Hill, Chief Executive Officer of IDAS, said: "It is a privilege to be working with Claire Throssell, whose bravery is an inspiration.

"Together we hope to increase the understanding of how dangerous domestic abuse can be.

"Tragically, Claire’s experiences are not isolated as many abusers continue the abuse through their children even after parents have separated.

"Whilst public awareness is increasing there is still work to be done to ensure that the warning signs are taken seriously, and children are adequately safeguarded."

An inquest recorded a verdict that Jack and Paul Sykes were unlawfully killed by their father.