Mentally ill son killed his father after escaping from ward in 'utterly tragic case'

Dr Kim Harrison was described by his family as "a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend." Credit: South Wales Police

A son escaped from a mental health unit and fatally attacked his own father just an hour later, a court has heard.

Daniel Harrison, 37, violently attacked Dr Kim Harrison, 68, in an assault at the family home in Clydach, Swansea, in March.

Harrison had become increasingly paranoid and believed his mother, Jane, was in danger from her husband and needed protecting.

Harrison had been detained under the Mental Health Act at Neath Port Talbot Hospital just 10 days before the assault because of “severe” aggression towards his parents. Swansea Crown Court heard his mental health had been deteriorating since 2018 and he had stopped taking his medication.

Harrison had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at the age of 22, and fled from the ward on the afternoon of March 12, 2022 when a nurse using a swipe card opened a secure door.

Swansea Crown Court Harrison had been detained under the Mental Health Act just 10 days before the fatal assault. Credit: PA

He pushed past her and ran from the hospital, taking a taxi to the centre of Clydach before walking to his parents’ home at Conniston Hall.

Staff at the ward phoned Mrs Harrison to warn her that her son had absconded and, fearing for her safety, she and her husband locked all the windows and doors.

When he arrived, Mrs Harrison went to the library to phone the police and as she made the call, she heard her husband unlocking the back door to let her son in.

William Hughes QC, prosecuting, said: “She did not hear any voices or noises during the five minutes she was in the library.

“She went into the kitchen and there she saw her husband laying on his back. She could see he had shocking facial injuries.”

After the attack, Harrison fled on foot and took a bus to Swansea railway station where he caught a train to London and was arrested two days later.

Harrison told police he felt “manipulated” by his parents and his father had caused him “trauma”.“

"He said he attacked his father punching him in the face, and then throwing him to the floor and punching and kicking him to the head,” Mr Hughes said.

“He also told the police he had used a broom handle he found lying on the floor. He also stated he stood on his father’s throat with his shoes on and stamped on his face with the heel of his shoe", Mr Hughes continued.

Mr Harrison, a retired specialist in pulmonary fibrosis, died on April 9 from blunt force trauma to the head and neck.

Daniel Harrison had denied murder but admitted manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility. His plea was accepted after two psychiatrists said that Harrison was suffering from an abnormality of mental functioning at the time of the killing and had “persecutory delusional beliefs”.

John Hipkin QC, defending, did not offer any personal mitigation on behalf of Harrison.

'An utterly tragic case'

Judge Paul Thomas QC imposed hospital orders under Section 37 and 41 of the Mental Health Act, meaning Harrison will be detained in a secure unit indefinitely.

“This is an utterly tragic case on so many levels – a son killing his father in the family home,” he said.

“That, however, does not begin to explain the depth of the tragedy here.

“It is clear from all of the material in front of me that Mr Harrison has been suffering for some 15 years from paranoid schizophrenia.

“That led to the forming of deluded beliefs about his father. It led to a significant abnormality of his mental function as a result of serious mental illness.

“His persecutory delusional beliefs extended to a wholly irrational concern for his mother’s safety and led to what then eventuated.”

The judge added: “It may well be that Mr Harrison will never in fact be considered sufficiently safe to return to live in the community and that is a matter for the clinical judgment of those under whose care he will be.”

In a statement after his death, Dr Harrison’s family said: “Kim was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend – a man of great patience, modesty and integrity.

“Kim was a well renowned and respected doctor who strove to ensure that his patients were always offered the best care.”