Father jailed for life for murdering his son who he said had fallen from tree

Child-killer Michael Harrison. (Derbyshire Police/PA) (Derbyshire Police)
Child-killer Michael Harrison. (Derbyshire Police/PA) (Derbyshire Police)

A father who brutally beat his 11-year-old son and then waited four hours to call an ambulance has been jailed for life after admitting his murder.

Michael Harrison, 41, beat “undernourished” Mikey Harrison at his home in Heanor, Derbyshire, on 18 June last year.

Four hours later he drove to Heanor’s Shipley Country Park where he made a 999 call to the ambulance service from his van and falsely claimed his son had fallen from a tree.

Peter Joyce KC said paramedics arrived to find the boy struggling for breath before he went into cardiac arrest.

The boy, who weighed only 3st 11lbs at the time of the attack, was taken to hospital in Nottingham where he was pronounced dead at 2.39pm.

He had suffered multiple blunt force injuries but could have been saved by prompt treatment, the court heard.

In sentencing at Derby Crown Court on Thursday Judge Shaun Smith KC said Harrison had hit and punched Mikey “many times”, including one blow that was “so hard it lacerated his liver”.

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

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 judge said to Harrison: “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.

Harrison initially pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but last month admitted murder.

He will serve a minimum term of 21 years and six months.

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

After he was sentenced, Harrison, who was wearing a white T-shirt with “FAMILY” printed on the front, gestured towards members of the media.

He said: “I will always love my family no matter what you lot say. Put whatever version you like.”

Det Insp Paul Bullock said: “Michael Harrison has never given an account for why he killed Mikey but his conduct on the day of the tragic events makes it abundantly clear that his primary interest was his own freedom and not the life of his own son.

“We now know the truth, that Mikey was killed by Harrison after a brutal assault that left him with the most serious of injuries.

“Harrison a strong, fully grown man would have been under no illusion that Mikey was anything other than seriously injured.”