A dad who beat his young son to death claimed his injuries had been caused by him falling from a tree.
On June 18 last year Michael Harrison "went crazy" and attacked his young son, punching him repeatedly to the body and even causing a laceration to the youngster's liver. Tragically, a court heard that 11-year-old son Mikey may well have survived the brutal attack if he had received prompt treatment.
Instead, Harrison drove them both to Shipley Country Park, Heanor, Derbyshire, and called an ambulance, saying the schoolboy had fallen out of a tree as they were playing hide and seek. He then cleared his property in a desperate attempt to cover his tracks.
Today, May 18, Harrison was jailed for life for killing his son. Standing in the dock, Harrison wore a t-shirt emblazoned with the word 'family' as he was jailed for a minimum term of 21 years.
Sentencing Harrison, Judge Shaun Smith KC said the defendant had lied about the killing and taken the victim to a park as part of an attempted cover-up. DerbyshireLive reported the judge 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.
“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.”
At the picturesque park, Harrison began his cover-up, ringing 999 and lying to them. His entire account was described in court as "utter fiction".
When emergency services got to the park, they found Mikey sitting in the front passenger seat of Harrison's van.
Peter Joyce, KC, prosecuting, said Mikey had been struggling to breathe and was rushed to hospital where he sadly died just over an hour later.
The prosecutor said: "The defendant said he had been on a day out with Mikey at Shipley Park and they were playing hide and seek. The defendant said he had not seen Mikey climb a tree but heard him fall. This entire account of the fall was utter fiction.
"This was made up by the defendant to cover up the fact that he himself had fatally injured his son and was attempting to cover up his actions by taking him to the park.
"The defendant made every attempt to cover up what happened, the bungalow where they lived was visited by crime scene investigators on June 30, all of the windows were open and the house had been stripped of almost every item one would expect to find in a home. The meter was missing and there was no power to the premises."
Mr Joyce said the initial post-mortem examination found a large number of bruises and grazes "all of recent origin" as well as a laceration to Mikey's liver.
He said: "The laceration had caused a significant bleed, there was one-and-a-half litres of blood in Mikey's stomach cavity."
A second examination concluded there was "multiple blunt force trauma and injuries to his face, head, arms, back and neck."
Mr Joyce said: "The conclusion is that the injuries were not explained by a single fall, he had a number of blunt force trauma injuries to a number of areas of his body."
A cause of death was given as a laceration to the liver caused by multiple blunt force injuries.
Mr Joyce said an expert paediatrician, also brought in, concluded that Mikey "may well have survived had he received prompt treatment".
Judge Smith said that Mikey "did not die straight away" and would have "developed increasing pain and nausea prior to his death".
Harrison, who was living in Heanor at the time, pleaded guilty to murder at a hearing on April 3 at the same court.
A victim impact statement, read to the court by Judge Smith, has told how Mikey "loved singing and lining up his teddies in his bedroom".
It read: "Mikey was special, beautiful and creative."
Vanessa Marshall KC, mitigating, said that her client failing to call an ambulance or take Mikey to a hospital despite his son needing urgent help was "unforgivable".
She said Harrison was kidnapped and "severely stabbed" by a gang in 2006 and had rented the Heanor address where they were living at the time Mikey died under a false name to keep them safe.
After being sentenced, in an outburst from the dock, the child killer held forward his t-shirt to the press bench and said: "I will always love my family, no matter what you lot say and whatever version of events you tell."