Father who murdered 11-year-old son in brutal assault jailed for life

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A man who waited for almost four hours to call an ambulance after inflicting fatal injuries on his “undernourished” 11-year-old son has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 21 years and six months.

Michael Harrison pleaded guilty last month to the murder of Mikey Harrison, who died in hospital in June last year after paramedics were called to a country park.

Harrison leaned forward in his seat staring at the ground, shielding his face from the public gallery, during almost all of his two-hour sentencing hearing on Thursday.

The court was told that he repeatedly punched Mikey, who weighed 3st 11lb, at his home in Derbyshire on the morning of June 18, causing a fatal laceration to his liver.

A paramedics' car at the country park in June last year. (Derbyshire Police/PA)
A paramedics’ car called to the country park (Derbyshire Police/PA)

Passing sentence at Derby Crown Court, Judge Shaun Smith KC told Harrison: “At 18 minutes past one on Saturday June 18 you embarked upon a charade solely intended to protect yourself.

“That was because you had attacked your 11-year-old son Mikey. You hit and punched him many times. At least one of those blows was so hard it lacerated his liver.

“Rather than face up to what you had done, you made a call to the ambulance service to report that Mikey had fallen out of a tree.

“What you did that morning ended the life of a little boy and emptied the lives of many others.”

The judge added that what happened during the assault was a result of Harrison “going crazy” as he damaged furniture and caused multiple blunt force injuries to Mikey.

Opening the case against Harrison, prosecutor Peter Joyce KC told the court: “At 1.20pm on Saturday June 18 this defendant, Michael Harrison, made an emergency 999 call to the East Midlands Ambulance Service, to report that his son had fallen out of a tree in Shipley Park, Heanor.

“He told the emergency services the number of his vehicle and where he and Mikey could be found.”

Mr Joyce said ambulance service staff then arrived to find Mikey struggling for breath, but he went into cardiac arrest and was taken to hospital in Nottingham, where he was pronounced dead at 2.39pm.

The prosecutor said of the victim: “He was 11 years old when he died and he weighed three stone, 11lbs.

Shipley Country Park murder
Shipley Country Park, where Harrison tried to stage a cover-up (Jacob King/PA)

The prosecutor added: “His first account was that he had been in Shipley Country Park when Mikey had fallen from a tree.”

But inquiries established that “this entire account was a fiction made up by the defendant to cover up the fact that he himself had fatally injured his son”, Mr Joyce continued.

Following the assault, the court heard, Harrison stripped the Heanor property where he and Mikey had been living “of almost every item that you would expect to find in a home”.

Mr Joyce alleged that Harrison had also cleaned the scene of the attack to remove any prospect of any evidence being found in relation to what he had done to Mikey.

The 999 call took place almost four hours after the attack took place, Mr Joyce said, adding: “In common parlance he (Mikey) had received many blows to many areas of his body.”

In the opinion of an expert who had studied the evidence, Mikey may well have been saved with prompt and appropriate medical treatment, the court heard.

Offering mitigation, defence barrister Vanessa Marshall KC said Harrison would have to bear the “awful, tragic, unforgivable” death of his son for the rest of his life.

Submitting that Mikey’s death was the result of an “isolated outburst of gratuitous violence”, Ms Marshall claimed Harrison had cleared out the property amid safety concerns, having been kidnapped and stabbed by a gang in 2006.

After he was sentenced, Harrison, wearing a white T-shirt with “FAMILY” printed on the front, gestured towards members of the media and said: “I will always love my family no matter what you lot say. Put whatever version you like.”

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