Deprecated: Function session_register() is deprecated in /home/sites/ on line 88 Penistone fatal fire: Boys' deaths 'not predictable'
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Penistone fatal fire: Boys' deaths 'not predictable'

  • 9-7-2015

The "deliberate and devastating" actions of a newly-divorced father who killed his two sons in a house fire could not have been predicted, a serious case review has found.

Jack and Paul Sykes, aged 12 and nine, died when their father Darren, 44, set fire to the property in Penistone on 22 October. Mr Sykes was also killed.

The report found there was "no information" to cause concern.

However, it said agencies had failed to "communicate comprehensively".

According to the report, carried out by Barnsley Safeguarding Children Board, the boys' parents split-up in early 2014. Social services became involved with the family in June.

It said over the following months the children told social workers they were scared of their father, with Paul describing him as "pure nasty".

It also said that during court proceedings their mother had given a statement saying Mr Sykes had told her "he can understand fathers killing their children".

The report said "The deliberate, devastating actions of [Mr Sykes] on 22 October 2014 could not have been predicted by anyone.

"Research suggests that such incidents are rare, that the vast majority of estranged father's would not consider such actions and that there is no known way of identifying those who will do so.

"Historically there was no information regarding the family to cause concerns.

"Neither [Mr Sykes'] known offending history nor his mental health history was sufficient to make agencies believe that he posed a significant threat to himself or others."

Jack and Paul's mother Claire Throssell, however, believes she was let down by the authorities.

She said: "They did not support us from July right up until October.

"When I think about the fact that one little boy had to try to rescue his brother and when his dying testament was 'My dad did this and he did it on purpose', what does that say about the organisations that were involved, that were supposed to be helping us as a family?"

Lured to house

The report said: "As with many serious case reviews, this review has found examples of agencies failing to communicate with each other as comprehensively as they should have done."

It said a number of recommendations had been made and "agencies involved in this review have learnt lessons and taken several actions in order to improve services".

At an inquest into the boys' deaths the coroner found they had been unlawfully killed by their father after he lured them to the house with a new train set.

Bob Dyson, the independent chair of Barnsley Safeguarding Children Board said: "This review follows the coroner's inquest that found the death of the children was an unlawful killing and there was no knowledge by a public authority of any identifiable risk of such an event taking place.

"He found that none of the agencies involved with the family had fundamentally failed in their duty to the family."

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2015 BBC

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