'Our beloved Rowan was taken from us.' The Lismore toddler's mum has spoken after his death.

The mother of the two-year-old boy killed by his father in Lismore over the weekend has released a statement, saying her son's life was ended by "an evil and cowardly act of violence".

"Our family is facing incomprehensible grief. Our beloved Rowan was taken from us in the most unfathomable way," Sophie Roome and her family said in a statement, per the ABC.

"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."

Police found the bodies of 38-year-old James Harrison and his two-year-old son, Rowan, in East Lismore on Sunday.

Per The Daily Telegraph, Harrison was subject to an apprehended violence order, taken out to protect the child's mother, Dr Sophie Roome, an intensive care specialist who was working at Lismore Base Hospital when her child was killed.

Dr Roome contacted police when her son was not handed back at the agreed time. Rowan was due to be returned at 4.30pm and the mother called police about an hour later.

Officers discovered the two bodies in a rented house in College St at about 9.45pm.

Police officers said they went immediately to the College St address when Dr Roome phoned, but no one answered. They canvassed the area and returned to the station to make further enquiries before returning to the address and forcing entry.

Image: AAP.


NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Peter Thurtell said: "A more tragic event you wouldn't come across… it's very sad and that's a matter now being investigated and a report will be prepared for the coroner."

A post-mortem is still yet to be carried out.

Days after the tragedy, a director at NSW Health — where Harrison worked as a business analyst — penned a "tone-deaf" email.

CEC Director of Information Management Andre Jenkins said, in an email leaked to The Daily Telegraph, "It is with indescribable sadness that I find myself letting you know that James Harrison and his son Rowan died on Sunday."

"There are no words to adequately describe the loss of a wonderful colleague and beloved friend," he added.

The email also touched on Harrison’s relationship with his son, saying, "Many of you also shared memories of Rowan popping up in meetings with his proud dad."


It added that Harrison was “generous with his time.”

The email was slammed by staff. 

In a statement, a NSW Health spokesman said: "The email was not endorsed or approved by NSW Health. We don’t consider it appropriate. It is a very difficult time for staff and our focus is on making sure they have the support they need."

Harrison and Dr Roome separated in 2023 after moving to the Northern Rivers region, and she attended Lismore Local Court in August 2023 to seek an AVO. The order was extended by the court in March, banning Harrison from assaulting, stalking or intimidating Dr Roome.

Emma Siegel, from the Lismore Women's Health Centre, told Sydney Morning Herald the suspected murder-suicide has left "the community paralysed".

"Our hearts go out to the woman who has to go to bed tonight knowing that she will never be able to hug her little one," she said.

— with AAP.

If this has raised any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.

Mamamia is a charity partner of RizeUp Australia, a national organisation that helps women, children and families move on after the devastation of domestic and family violence. Their mission is to deliver life-changing and practical support to these families when they need it most. If you would like to support their mission you can donate here

Feature Image: ABC/Roome family.