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Fury over email praising killer dad

Written by on May 22, 2024

NSW Health Minister Ryan Park has denounced a NSW Health director who sent an email describing the man suspected of killing his two-year-old son in a murder-suicide as a “wonderful colleague”.

In an email obtained by The Daily Telegraph, NSW Health Clinical Excellence Commission’s Information Management director Andre Jenkins wrote to staff on Wednesday alerting them to the death of James Harrison and his son, Rohan.

Harrison, who according to his LinkedIn was a business analyst for NSW Health’s Northern NSW Local Health District was found dead alongside his two-year-old son Rowan at an East Lismore home at about 9.45pm on Sunday.

Police have said they died after a complicated gas “system” was set up by Harrison, which involved carbon monoxide.

It’s since been revealed his ex-partner Sophie Roome, had taken out an apprehended domestic violence order against Harrison in February.

In Mr Jenkins’ email however, he remembered Harrison as a “proud dad,” and “beloved friend.

“It is with indescribable sadness that I find myself letting you know that James Harrison and his son Rowan died on Sunday,” it read.

“Many of you also shared and [had] memories of Rowan popping up in meetings with his proud dad.

“There are no words to adequately describe the loss of a wonderful colleague and beloved friend.”

The email also detailed support services available to staff, like Beyond Blue, Lifeline and 1800Respect.

In aftermath of the reports, Mr Park quickly moved to distance both himself and the department from the comments.

“This email was completely unacceptable and has caused significant distress to staff,” he wrote.

“I want to make clear that it does not reflect the views of NSW Health, and that it was not in any way endorsed or authorised by Health.

“This is an extremely difficult time for local health staff, and I want to reiterate that support is being made available to them.”

A NSW Health spokesperson also said the government agency “does not endorse and did not approve the inappropriate email”.

“The tragic events that unfolded in Lismore last weekend are having a profound

impact on the community, including many of our staff members,” it said.

“Our focus is on making sure support is available for staff members who need it

during this difficult time and in the days and weeks to come.”

Earlier on Wednesday, NSW Premier Chris Minns said the incident was an “evil act”.

“I’m horrified by it. I’m sure the community is completely in despair as a result, and I’m thinking about that mother’s family and friends, and what they’re going through right now, as well as NSW Police that came across that crime scene,” he said.

On Wednesday afternoon, Dr Roome and her family issued a statement, stating the family was “facing incomprehensible grief” in the wake of Rowan’s death.

“Our beloved Rowan was taken from us in the most unfathomable way,” the statement read.

“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.

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

The statement also described the toddler as a “beautiful, joyful, and adored little boy,” and a child who loved “music, the beach, swimming, his friends and his family”.

“He had so many amazing qualities, and his short life was filled with rich and happy experiences,” it read.

“We are devastated. We will love and miss Rowan forever. We thank all those who have provided support, and we acknowledge the suffering of James’ family, which is also immense.”