Dad’s plea to change law after he wasn’t told that stepdad was threat to his son

A dad who was unaware his five-year-old boy was in grave danger is demanding a change in the law.

The last time Shaun Harrison saw his boy Tyler Whelan alive was when he dropped him off the night before his death.

The next day the youngster was kicked to death in a fit of rage by his mum’s new partner Elvis Lee.

The attack was so violent it ­ruptured his abdomen.

Several professionals had said Lee posed a risk to his son.

But they did not have to tell Shaun because Tyler was not under a care or ­supervision order.

Lee had 56 previous convictions, including for dishonesty, affray and violence but no one had ever told Shaun about the brute’s record.

Shaun is tortured by the idea he could have saved his lad, who died in hospital after collapsing at his home in Peterborough, Cambs.

He now wants to create Tyler’s law – to legally oblige social workers to tell both parents about any investigations involving their child.

Tyler had been to the fair with Shaun the day before he died and said he did not want to leave him.

Shaun, 34, said: “I thought it was because he’d had such a good time. I gave him a kiss and his mum put him in the car.”

Carwash worker Shaun only discovered at Lee’s court case that social services had been involved in Tyler’s life.

The dad was so devastated by Tyler’s death that he attempted suicide three times.

He said: “If I’d known he was at risk I’d have brought him to live with me.”

Tyler’s injuries at the time of his death included 18 to his face and neck, 17 to his body, ten to his arms and hands, and 13 to his legs, ­including a human bite mark.

At Cambridge crown court, Mr Justice Nicol told Lee: “Tyler had been left in your care while his mother took two other ­children to school.

“His young life was cut tragically short. He was only half your height and a ­quarter of your weight.”

In May 2012, Lee, 40, was convicted of Tyler’s murder and sentenced to at least 17 and a half years.

The boy’s mum Stephanie Whelan, 33, originally from Wigan, Lancs, was ­given a four-year jail term for causing or ­allowing his death.

Tyler’s killing ­followed three earlier ­admissions to hospital. Doctors contacted social services when the boy suffered a broken leg in June 2010 but it was later ­decided no ­intervention was needed.

A serious case review ruled child protection ­agencies missed ­“numerous opportunities” to ­investigate Tyler’s home life after many tip-offs.

Doctors told social services Tyler had a series of blunt force ­traumas in the lead-up to his death and a probation officer had warned Lee could harm the boy.

Tyler was not put on the child protection register and the report into children’s services in Peterborough found an assessment of the family was “very poor”. Tearful Shaun said: “Why didn’t they tell me? And why didn’t they do more? They’ve still never said sorry to me. I’ve been through hell but now I want to make sure this doesn’t happen to another child.”

Shaun, of Wigan, split with Whelan when Tyler was three. She later moved to Peterborough to be with Lee but Shaun saw his son at ­weekends. He said: “I didn’t think there were signs he was unhappy, but the last few times he did stop with me, he didn’t want to go back when it was time to go home.”

In March 2011, Shaun’s mum told him of Tyler’s death. He said: “I was in so much shock I felt numb. I didn’t want to believe what I was hearing.”

Whelan and Lee claimed Tyler died after falling off a kitchen worktop. A friend drove Shaun to the hospital in Peterborough to say goodbye to his son – where he came face to face with Lee.

Shaun said: “I didn’t cry straight away. I think it was only when I got down and saw his body it dawned on me he was dead and I broke down.

“He was covered up to the neck and I couldn’t see his ­injuries. I said, ‘How could you have just fallen off and died?

Lee was there with Stephanie and straight away, my mate said, ‘He’s done this to him.’

“Looking back, he was acting suspiciously but when your son has just died you’re not looking at ­people’s body language.”

Shaun arranged Tyler’s funeral while Lee and Whelan were arrested.

Whelan was ­allowed to attend, despite the probe into her role in Tyler’s death. Shaun said: “We had a Gummy Bears song ­because it was his favourite.

“He had a white coffin, white horses and a white carriage. Stephanie was crying. She had to be carried out of the church.

But she’s dead to me. She knew what Lee was capable of and she kept Tyler there. I’ve not spoken to her since.” Shaun went to every day of the trial. He said there had been many times when social services could have stepped in and he was sure Tyler would have been so scared.

Lee sobbed when ­sentenced because he would be missing time with his own kids.

Shaun said: “He was crying, saying he may never see his ­children again but what about my child? I might not be responsible for my actions if I see him again.”

Shaun went on to find love with Robyn Bailey, 26. He still takes antidepressants but said their sons Issac, six, and Aaron, four, are the reason he has not taken his own life.

He has recently held talks with local Labour MP Lisa Nandy about his hopes for a law change.

He said: “Aaron is too young to understand what happened to Tyler but I’ve told Issac a naughty man hurt him and he’s gone to heaven. Tyler would be 13. I’ve kept his ashes in my room and I speak to him sometimes.

“Lee will get a second chance at life. I’ll never get a second chance with Tyler. If social ­services had done their job properly, my son would still be here.”

Family law barrister Julia Nelson said: “Fathers of children born after December 1, 2003 automatically have parental responsibility for the child if they are registered on the child’s birth certificate.

“A father with parental responsibility must be notified and is an automatic party to any family court case that concerns his child – such as a care or supervision order.

“If there is a decision to take no action, however, then it appears unlikely that non-resident parents would automatically be informed and there is no law saying that they must be.”