Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Dad in "custody battle" murders 9- and 12-year-old sons (United Kingdom)

A lot of unquestioned fathers rights spin here. Poor (killer) daddy was "worried" about maintaining child access. This is nonsense. Darren Sykes is a deliberate, cold-blooded child killer who should have been denied all child access. No access=no victims.


Custody battle father used new train set in the loft to lure his two young sons to their deaths in arson attack on his home
Darren Sykes, 44, died alongside his two sons in a house fire in October
He had barricaded them into the attic of his property in south Yorkshire
Lured the children with an £800 train set bought on the morning of death
Evidence showed eldest son, 12, tried to escape by opening attic hatch
He died in hospital five days later while younger brother died at the scene
An inquest heard newly-divorced father was worried about custody rights
Family court liaisons met with police two days before to discuss the case

By Jennifer Smith for MailOnline Published: 13:28 EST, 2 March 2015 | Updated: 16:45 EST, 2 March 2015

A newly-divorced father who used a train set to lure his two young sons to their deaths in a 'terrible' arson attack had been worried about his access rights to the children, an inquest has heard.

Darren Sykes died alongside Paul, nine, and Jack, 12, after setting a fire in his home and locking himself and the boys in the attic.

The 44-year-old had been worried about how much he would be able to see the children after recently divorcing from their mother, Sheffield Coroner's Court heard.

Mr Sykes died in the attic after inhaling smoke while Paul's body was found near the edge of the loft.

Jack, who was found unconscious next to its hatch door, died in hospital five days later.

In the days before his death the father of two from Penistone, south Yorkshire, sent letters to a bank telling them he 'would not be alive' to pay his mortgage.

On October 22, when the three were killed in the fire, he sent a text message to a handful of friends saying 'he was going to be at peace'.

Concluding that the carpet estimator had intended to take his own life, Sheffield coroner Chris Dorries said: 'The whole business is absolutely terrible. Following a police statement which described the ongoing custody battle between Mr Sykes and his estranged wife Claire, he added: 'He may have taken the view he would have less access.'

On the morning of his death Mr Sykes spent £800 on a model railway track before sending text messages to both his sons asking them to visit him at his house that day.

Before luring them into the attic he sprayed four cans of petrol across the ground floor of the house and barricaded doors with furniture.

He had also tied the front and back garden gates with cord to prevent anyone from accessing the property.

'The door to the stairs had been wedged to stop anyone coming down and there were chairs behind the front door as if to prevent people coming in,' said special fire investigator Michael Mason.

Evidence suggested Mr Sykes's eldest son Jack made a desperate attempt to escape as flames ravaged the floors beneath them.

'At some point during the fire the loft hatch was closed and then opened during the fire which allowed a plume of smoke with gases to enter the loft.

'It was a natural reaction to try to get out.'

Explaining how investigators knew it was Jack rather than his father of young brother who tried to escape, he added: 'Opening the hatch made the position untenable.'

Recording a verdict of suicide, coroner Dorries said it was 'abundantly clear' Mr Sykes had set the fire which killed him and his two sons.

'All three were inside the loft with the hatch closed when the fire took hold.

'There is no evidence that it was set by anyone else other than Mr Sykes. He intended to take his own life.'

An inquest into the boys’ deaths will be held later this week.