Father beat son, 11, to death, then claimed he fell from tree - and boy 'would have lived if 999 called sooner'

18 May 2023, 15:11 | Updated: 18 May 2023, 15:28

Michael Harrison has been jailed for life after murdering his son
Michael Harrison has been jailed for life after murdering his son. Picture: Derbyshire Constabulary/Alamy

By Kit Heren

A man has been jailed for life after beating his underweight son to death and waiting hours to call an ambulance in a bid to cover his tracks.

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Michael Harrison murdered Mikey, his 11-year-old son, at their house in Heanor, in Derbyshire on June 18 last year, lacerating the boy's liver in a hail of blows.

Harrison later drove Mikey to Shipley Park, and called the ambulance service to claim the boy had fallen out of a tree.

He only made the call four hours after the fatal beating of Mikey, who weighed 3st 11lb, below the normal bounds for a boy his age.

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Mikey was rushed to hospital in Nottingham, but died shortly afterwards. A medical expert said he would likely have survived the severe internal bleeding he suffered if the paramedics had been called immediately.

Harrison then cleared out his home to cover his tracks, but his crime was exposed when a witness came forward.

Michael Harrison
Michael Harrison. Picture: Derbyshire Constabulary

He was arrested and pleaded guilty to manslaughter in December, before admitting murder in April.

The killer was jailed for life on Thursday, with a minimum term of 21 years and six months. He wore a t-shirt with the word "family" as he was sentenced.

Judge Shaun Smith KC told the 41-year-old: "At 18 minutes past one on Saturday June 18 (2022) you embarked upon a charade solely intended to protect yourself.

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"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.

Shipley Country Park in Heanor, Derbyshire, where the 11-year-old boy was found injured
Shipley Country Park in Heanor, Derbyshire, where the 11-year-old boy was found injured. Picture: Alamy

"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."

Vanessa Marshall KC, defending Harrison, said: "This was a man who lost control for whatever reason, lashed out and now must live with the consequences.

"Mr Harrison is full of remorse for what he has done but knows that remorse will never bring back his beloved son.

"He genuinely wishes to say sorry."

After he was sentenced, Harrison 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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