Lismore murder-suicide: James Harrison revealed as WA man who killed toddler son in NSW

Caleb Runciman
The Nightly
2 Min Read
James Harrison, 38, a business analyst for NSW Health, was living in the northern NSW town of Lismore when he took his and his son Rowan’s life on Sunday.
James Harrison, 38, a business analyst for NSW Health, was living in the northern NSW town of Lismore when he took his and his son Rowan’s life on Sunday. Credit: Supplied

The father who built an intricate poisoning system to kill himself and his two-year-old son in a callous murder-suicide was raised in Perth and studied biochemistry at university before moving east.

James Harrison, 38, a business analyst for NSW Health, was living in the northern NSW town of Lismore when he took his and his son Rowan’s life on Sunday.

Dr Sophie Roome, an intensive care specialist at Lismore Base Hospital, applied for an apprehended violence order out against her former partner Harrison back in August 2023 but was required to take her son for an access visit on Sunday morning.

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Dr Roome feared her former partner may have fled Lismore when her son was not returned to her at 4.30pm, local time, on Sunday afternoon.

An hour later, Dr Roome called the police and said she had concerns for the welfare of her son.

Officers immediately went to Harrison’s College St home but no one answered the door.

Police said they continued to make further inquiries, including calling relatives interstate, before rushing back to the house at 9.30pm where they forced entry.

Dr Roome’s worst fears were realised when police entered the home, finding Harrison and Rowan dead just before 10pm.

Sophie Roome and her child Rowan. Rowan was killed by his father James Harrison in Lismore.
Sophie Roome and her child Rowan. Rowan was killed by his father James Harrison in Lismore. Credit: Sophie Roome/Facebook

Harrison’s mother declined to comment on the death of her son and grandchild when speaking with The West Australian at her home in the inner southern suburbs of Perth on Tuesday night.

NSW Police say Harrison rigged up a deadly poisoning system involving carbon monoxide inside his Lismore unit.

Friends claimed Harrison’s concerning behaviour towards Dr Roome escalated when they separated, prompting her to go to Lismore Local Court in August 2023 and seek an apprehended violence order.

In March this year, the AVO was extended by the court, banning Harrison from assaulting, stalking or intimidating Dr Roome.

Harrison is believed to have had an intricate knowledge of biochemistry and biological nanotechnology, with several science qualifications from the University of Western Australia, the University of Queensland and the University of Melbourne.

Police have made a grim discovery after the bodies of a man and his two-year-old son were found in an East Lismore home overnight. About 9.45pm on Sunday, Richmond Police District officers forced their way into a unit on College St, Lismore, following concerns for their welfare. 7NEWS
Police have made a grim discovery after the bodies of a man and his two-year-old son were found in an East Lismore home overnight. About 9.45pm on Sunday, Richmond Police District officers forced their way into a unit on College St, Lismore, following concerns for their welfare. 7NEWS Credit: 7NEWS/7NEWS

He has also contributed to at least one scientific paper that explored how nanoparticles could help injuries but which also raised concerns about their toxicity.

His LinkedIn also revealed he had withdrawn from a Masters qualification in health policy from the University of Sydney “due to the university ceasing remote teaching after I moved to Lismore to support my former partner and our son”.

Harrison’s Facebook says he graduated from the University of Western Australia in 2010 before taking up studies in the eastern states from 2011 onwards.

Between 2015 and 2019 Harrison ranted on Facebook about race-motivated violence, COVID-19 and marriage equality.

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