East Lismore, NSW: Dad who killed himself and two-year-old son in murder-suicide after AVO battle with doctor wife, as tragic new details emerge

A father who committed suicide and his two-year-old son at home during a planned custody visit have been photographed for the first time, as more heartbreaking details about their deaths emerged.

James Harrison, 38, a health business analyst from New South Wales, and his young son, Rowan, were found dead inside a unit on College Street in East Lismore, on the far north coast of New Wales. South Sunday night after police were called to conduct a welfare check.

The boy’s mother, Dr Sophie Roome, raised the alarm four hours earlier.So his only daughter was not returned that afternoon as planned.

The intensive care specialist, who works as a doctor at the local hospital, went to police with initial fears that Harrison may have fled town with Rowan.

An unanswered police knock on Harrison’s front door heightened fears.

Several hours later, the police returned and forced entry, where they found the tragic scene.

It has since emerged that Harrison had a history of domestic violence and in March the courts extended an AVO against him to protect Dr Roome.

Lismore doctor Dr Sophie Roome with her son Rowan, who tragically died in a suspected murder-suicide on Sunday night.

Lismore doctor Dr Sophie Roome with her son Rowan, who tragically died in a suspected murder-suicide on Sunday night.

The bodies of James Harrison, 38 (pictured) and his son Rowan were found inside the East Lismore unit.

The bodies of James Harrison, 38 (pictured) and his son Rowan were found inside the East Lismore unit.

Police have since admitted that they left when no one answered the door to the home when they first attended at 5:30 p.m.

It took officers another four hours after the alert was first given before returning to the address under pressure from the boy’s distraught mother and her family.

Questions have now been raised about why there was such a long delay in returning to the unit and why they were not forced in on the first visit.

There was no response when they tried to open the door, and a source revealed officers refused to break it down despite the desperate family’s worst fears.

The source claims the mother was told the police couldn’t intervene and kick in the door because it was “a family court matter.”

Local police admitted to Daily Mail Australia on Tuesday that officers returned to their station to do “further investigations.”

Officers finally returned to the address more than four hours later, at 9:45 p.m., and discovered that Harrison had set up an elaborate “poison gas” system to kill him and little Rowan.

Forensic teams appear at the unit on College Street in East Lismore on Monday.

Forensic teams appear at the unit on College Street in East Lismore on Monday.

James Harrison and his two-year-old son were found dead inside the East Lismore unit in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales on Sunday night.

James Harrison and his two-year-old son were found dead inside the East Lismore unit in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales on Sunday night.

In March, the courts extended an AVO against James Harrison (pictured) to protect his ex-partner.

In March, the courts extended an AVO against James Harrison (pictured) to protect his ex-partner.

It has been revealed that Dr. Roome had primary custody of Rowan but that Harrison frequently visited his son.

She and Harrison separated last year shortly after moving to the Northern Rivers region.

Dr Roome went to Lismore Local Court in August 2023 seeking a stopped violence order after her ex-partner displayed worrying controlling behavior following their separation, friends told The Daily Telegraph.

The court extended the AVO just two months ago to protect Dr Roome from its continued attempts to dictate how she lived her life.

The AVO also prohibited Harrison from assaulting or threatening Dr Roome, stalking her or destroying her property.

It is understood Dr Roome’s family traveled from Tasmania to support the grieving mother.

Dr. Roome had previously worked a shift at the local hospital on Sunday while Harrison cared for his son.

Harrison described himself as an outdoors fanatic, with his social media filled with photos of hiking and camping expeditions.

He worked for several IT companies before joining NSW Health in 2018, according to his LinkedIn profile.

His current employer is listed as Northern New South Wales Local Health District.

There are also online rants about Covid-19, terrorism and equality rights.

Deputy Police Commissioner Peter Thurtell admitted on Monday that the man was known to police for previous domestic violence matters, but not for “significant issues.”

He added: “A more tragic event could not be found.

“The father has created a system in which both he and the child have died as a result of the system he created.”

James Harrison (pictured) introduced himself as an outdoor fanatic on social media.

James Harrison (pictured) introduced himself as an outdoor fanatic on social media.

Emergency Management Deputy Commissioner Peter Thurtell is pictured addressing the media on Monday.

Emergency Management Deputy Commissioner Peter Thurtell is pictured addressing the media on Monday.

The revelation has sparked outrage from the public demanding to know why it took officers so long to respond and criticizing police for suggesting domestic violence issues are not “significant”.

The source said the mother described the loss of her only child as “unbearable.”

On Monday, Deputy Commissioner Thurtell said the mother called police at 5.30pm after the father failed to show up for the 4.30pm delivery; However, the source said the timeline was incorrect.

“Actually, the child was due to be delivered at 4 p.m.,” the online source wrote.

‘Police went to the house after the mother reported her concerns, but were told they could not force entry and that it was a custody dispute.

“It wasn’t until the mother’s parents and a concerned partner of the father also went to the police that they returned and forced entry.”

Another source familiar with the situation stated that the police realized during the first knock that the father was home and would not answer the door “but did nothing.”

In a statement to Daily Mail Australia, New South Wales Police admitted that police had attended the house twice on Sunday.

“At approximately 5.30pm on Sunday 19 May 2024, a welfare concern was raised at Lismore Police Station,” a NSW Police spokesperson said.

‘A short time later, police attended an address in College Street, East Lismore, where they attempted to contact the occupant.

‘After they were unable to lift the occupant, police canvassed the area before returning to the police station for further investigations.

“As a result of further information received, police attended the East Lismore property again at 9.30pm where they forced entry.”

Details about the father’s history of domestic violence were relayed when Deputy Commissioner Thurtell and Police Commissioner Karen Webb spoke to the media on Monday about the arrest of more than 550 domestic violence offenders.

The arrests were the result of a statewide blitz targeting the worst alleged domestic violence offenders in New South Wales after authorities vowed to take more action to combat violence against women in the wake of the alleged murder of the mother of Forbes, Molly Ticehurst.

Forensic teams appear at the College Street unit on Monday.

Forensic teams appear at the College Street unit on Monday.

However, the announcement sparked a backlash as furious Australians demanded answers over the police’s slow response to the Lismore mother’s welfare call and criticized Deputy Commissioner Thurtell for his choice of language.

‘Why was it more than four hours after the mother called the police to conduct a check, especially if the man was a known domestic violence offender?’ one woman wrote online.

“This is beyond tragic.”

“I’m so glad the people charged with protecting us don’t think domestic violence to the point of an AVO isn’t a big deal,” said another.

A third added: “Any violence, domestic or otherwise, towards another person IS SIGNIFICANT.”

“It’s great when this comes from the police. If this is their attitude, it’s no wonder (people) don’t bother to report domestic violence.”

Forensic officers were seen combing the house for evidence on Monday as the community, still recovering from the devastating 2022 floods, comes to terms with the tragedy.

A small red tricycle could be seen in the unit’s driveway, next to an all-terrain vehicle surrounded by police tape.

While investigations continue, anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

For confidential 24/7 support, contact:

LIFEGUARD 13 11 14

Beyond the blue 1300 22 4636

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