A 12-year-old boy who died in a house blaze set by his father told police in hospital ‘it was my dad that started the fire’, an inquest heard.
Jack Sykes and his younger brother Paul, aged nine, both died after the fire at their dad Darren Sykes’ home in Tennyson Close, Penistone, Barnsley on October 22 2014.
An inquest into Jack’s death at Sheffield’s medicolegal centre today heard Mr Sykes, who also died in the blaze, lured his sons up to the attic with a new model train set, barricaded a door so they couldn’t escape and set fire to the property.
The court heard Jack, who was taken to Sheffield Chidren’s Hospital with more than 50 per cent burns to his head, chest and upper limbs, told a police officer: “It was my dad that started the fire.”
He also told a doctor: “My dad did it on purpose.”
The court heard Jack was later transferred to Manchester Royal Infirmary where he underwent surgery.
But he died on October 27 after his burns became infected.
His brother Paul died on the day of the fire from inhaling toxic fumes.
The inquest heard Mr Sykes, aged 44, and his wife Claire, had got divorced two weeks before the fatal blaze.
On October 20 he had a meeting with a family mediation service about access to his children, which left him with the impression he would have less access to his sons.
Recapping Mr Sykes’ last moments, detective sergeant Stuart Hall told the court he bought £600 worth of model trains from a railway store on the day of the fire before going to a garage and buying ten litres of petrol.
At 3.10pm Mr Sykes texted his sons to tell them he had two railway tracks up and running, adding: “I just need two engine drivers.”
At 4.14pm he had a conversation with his boss, during which he told him the meeting at CAFCASS had been a ‘waste of time’.
His boss told the court Mr Sykes was a ‘devoted father’ to the point of being almost ‘obsessed and boring’.
He added that he had anger management issues and had been ‘noticeably down’ but had continued to work.
DS Hall said: “There was certainly no hint of the scale of what was to come.”
The inquest heard Mr Sykes collected his sons at 6.13pm on October 22.
The fire was lit at around 6.30pm after he sent a text message to six people containing a picture of an angel, which read: “Well as God gave his only son for peace, now I have found peace.”
The court heard a dining chair was found wedged behind the door to the kitchen and stairs to stop his sons from escaping.
More chairs blocking the front door were found by fire crews.
Jack Sykes was found at the bottom of the loft ladder by fire crews, while his dad and brother were discovered in the attic.
Fire investigators found 14 pools of petrol on the first floor of the house. There were none in the loft.
The court heard Mr Sykes went into the loft and closed the hatch after igniting the petrol, but Jack may have opened it during blaze.
Coroner Christopher Dorries concluded that the boys were both unlawfully killed.
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