Mother of boy killed by father in Lismore murder-suicide shares ‘incomprehensible grief’

The mother of a two-year-old boy killed by his father in a suspected murder-suicide says she is enduring “incomprehensible pain” after her son’s life was ended “by an evil and cowardly act of violence.”

Rowan and his father, James Harrison, 38, were found dead inside an East Lismore unit on Sunday night by police, who had been called when the boy did not return from a planned access visit.

“Rowan’s life was ended by an evil and cowardly act of violence, perpetrated by a person he should have been able to trust more,” his mother, Dr. Sophie Roome, said in a joint statement with the family.

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“There are no possible excuses for this pain and no end to the pain it has caused. We are devastated.

“Rowan will be loved and missed forever.”

The boy was described as “beautiful, happy and adored” and a little boy who loved music, the beach, friends and family.

“She had so many amazing qualities and her short life was filled with rich and happy experiences,” the statement said.

“He touched the hearts of everyone who was lucky enough to be in his world.”

The family thanked those who came forward to support them.

Dr. Sophie Roome has shared her
Dr Sophie Roome has shared her “incomprehensible grief” after her son Rowan was murdered by his father. Credit: roome family

NSW health worker praises killer dad in email to staff

Meanwhile, NSW Health Minister Ryan Park distanced the service from an executive employee who called murderous dad Harrison a “wonderful colleague” in an email to all staff, seen by The Daily Telegraph, a few days after the deaths.

“It is with indescribable sadness that I find myself informing you that James Harrison and his son Rowan died on Sunday,” the employee wrote in the email.

“There are no words to adequately describe the loss of a wonderful colleague and dear friend.”

Park said the email was “completely unacceptable” and had caused staff “significant distress”.

“I want to be clear that it does not reflect the views of NSW Health and was in no way endorsed or authorized by Health,” Park said.

“This is an extremely difficult time for local health staff and I want to reiterate that support is being provided to them.”

Sophie Roome (right) had an ADVO against James Harrison (left) when he killed her son in a suspected murder-suicide on Sunday.
Sophie Roome (right) had an ADVO against James Harrison (left) when he killed her son in a suspected murder-suicide on Sunday. Credit: 7NEWS

Rowan was due to return from an access visit at 4.30pm on Sunday, and his mother called police about an hour later when he was not handed over.

Officers discovered the two bodies in a house in the northern New South Wales town at around 9.45pm. Harrison had reportedly set up a deadly poison system.

“A more tragic event could not have been found… it’s very sad and that is a matter that is now being investigated and a report will be prepared for the coroner,” NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Peter Thurtell said. .

He said police knew Harrison from previous domestic violence matters, but that there had been “no major issues” in the past.

Harrison was the subject of a domestic violence arrest warrant issued by the child’s mother.

That 12-month protection order was still in place when NSW Police officers forced entry into the unit on Sunday.

The ADVO ruled that Harrison must not assault, threaten, stalk or harass Roome or anyone with whom he is in a domestic relationship, or intentionally or recklessly destroy or damage any property or harm an animal belonging to him.

The penalty for violating an ADVO is two years in prison or a $5,500 fine.

If you or someone you know is affected by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.

In case of emergency, call 000.

If you need help in a crisis, call Life line on 13 11 14. For more information about depression, contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or speak to your GP, a local health professional or someone you trust.