Lismore tragedy: Transcript reveals new details of James Harrison’s fight against protection order

Headshot of Remy Varga
Remy Varga
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Sophie Roome holding her son Rowan.
Sophie Roome holding her son Rowan. Credit: Unknown/Supplied

A magistrate apologised to a father, who later killed his son in a suspected murder-suicide, as the 38-year-old attempted to fight a protection order sought by his ex-partner in Lismore.

Months before the bodies of James Harrison and two-year-old Rowan were found inside a house on College St in East Lismore, about 740km north of Sydney, the man was fighting an apprehended domestic violence order brought by his ex Sophie Roome.

On Sunday Dr Roome farewelled her dead son at a vigil in Lismore where about a hundred people, some holding candles and others bringing their children, gathered to farewell the toddler.

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Investigators suspect Harrison had rigged a system to poison himself and his son with carbon monoxide during a custody visit before he was due to return the toddler to his mother.

On February 13 Harrison waited for hours to fight the apprehended domestic violence order sought by Dr Roome for her protection before Magistrate Michael Dakin.

The matter was next listed for late July and Harrison’s lawyer said it would likely occupy the court’s time for between one and a half hours and two hours.

The matter was called for a second time before it was next adjourned until 12.55pm.

The third time the matter was called Magistrate Dakin was blunt.

“Regrettably, I don’t think there’s much prospect of reaching the police application naming James Harrison as the defendant,” he said.

After Harrison spoke to his lawyers, Magistrate Dakin was apologetic to the 38-year-old.

“By consent and without any admission on your part, I am sorry the court time could not be available today, it is unavoidable, it is the way sometimes the court list pans out,” he said.

“The order I make on a final basis is for 12 months from today for the protection of Sophie Roome, is that you are not to do any of the following to the protected person or anyone (with whom) she has a domestic relationship.

“You are not assault or threaten, stalk, harass or intimidate, intentionally or recklessly damage or destroy property or harm any animal that belongs to or is in the possession of the protected person.

“Mr Harrison, it is not a crime to have the order made against you but it is a crime to breach the order.

“The law in New South Wales provides that if a breach involves violence, a custodial sentence is to be imposed. “There cannot be any change or variation to that order without a further court order. So, please bear in mind the order applies Australia-wide.”

In a statement released last week, Dr Roome and her family said they were grappling with incomprehensible grief after the death of their “beautiful, joyful and adored little boy”.

“Rowan’s life was ended by an evil and cowardly act of violence, perpetrated by a person he should have been able to trust the most,” they said in a statement.

“There are no possible excuses for this hurt, and no end to the pain it has caused.”

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