A Dad burned both his sons to death after luring them into the attic with a text saying, ‘I’m making some railway track – all I need are two engine drivers.’ Salesman Darren Sykes, 44, had received his final divorce document two weeks before he used a can of petrol to start the blaze which killed him and his two children in Penistone, Yorkshire. Sykes shut them in the attic after tempting them to the house with a new £600 model railway. He had sent several letters confirming his intent to die, including one to HSBC, which said: ‘I won’t be paying the mortgage any more because I won’t be alive.’
The dad sent six text messages to friends and family minutes before the fire saying he had ‘found peace’. He used a chair to block the kitchen door to stop them escaping. He also tied blue string around the front and back gates. A patio door had been left partly open downstairs to fan the flames. Mr Sykes died in the loft from inhaling toxic gases. Paul’s body was found near the edge of the loft. His big brother Jack was rescued by firefighters from the bottom of the loft hatch after trying to escape but died five days later in hospital.
His sons, who had been living with their mother Claire, arrived to play with the model railway and minutes later a flash was seen and the fire service called. Sheffield coroner Chris Dorries, recording a verdict that Mr Sykes committed suicide said: ‘The whole business is absolutely terrible and I can’t imagine the effect it has had on various branches of the family.’ Mr Dorries said: ‘He may have taken the view, which was not the view intended, that he was going to have less access. That seems to have been a driving factor.