Whitby manslaughter victim Kirk Harland's family pay tribute to him, as killer Michael White is jailed

The family of a man who was fatally attacked at his own home in Whitby have spoken of their loss after his killer was sent to prison.

By Steve Bambridge
Saturday, 2nd May 2020, 9:45 am
Updated Saturday, 2nd May 2020, 9:48 am

Kirk Harland was found unconscious with severe head injuries at the bottom of a staircase by his apartment.

He was attacked and killed by his friend Michael John White, who was staying at his flat after he needed somewhere to live.

Following the incident on Esplanade in September, Mr Harland, 46, spent two weeks in hospital in a critical condition before he died.

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Kirk Harland

White, who worked as a joiner, was identified as a suspect during an extensive investigation by Scarborough & Ryedale CID.

During police interviews, the 40-year-old from Sleights declined to comment about most of the incident and downplayed his involvement.

Evidence linked him to the attack and following subsequent interviews he was charged with Mr Harland’s death.

He was initially charged with murder, but pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter when the case reached Leeds Crown Court.

Michael John White

A judge at the same court yesterday jailed White for five years, seven months.

After the hearing, the family of Mr Harland – known to his friends as ‘Captain’ – spoke of the devastation White had caused.

They said: “Until you lose someone so close it is impossible to understand how bad it feels.

“We will never forget the sense of shock on seeing Kirk in hospital in Hull but are thankful to the hospital for giving us that time with Kirk before he died.

“There are so many things we still want to say to Kirk but know that we never can.

“His untimely passing has left a huge hole in our lives and we all miss him.

“We are pleased that the man responsible for Kirk’s death has been caught and imprisoned but as he is the only person that can tell us what happened that day I am not sure we will ever know the full circumstances that led to Kirk’s death.”

Det Insp Jonathan Sygrove, of Scarborough & Ryedale CID, said: “One of the saddest things about this case is that Mr Harland was killed by someone he was doing a good deed for – he’d allowed White to stay in his flat after he hd nowhere else to live.

“White repaid his kindness with an unprovoked attack which ultimately took his life.

“Mr Harland’s family have spoken of the unsurmountable loss they continue to feel, which has been compounded by White’s consistently selfish reluctance to share the full details about what actually happened.

“No prison sentence can bring back a loved one, but I hope White’s conviction today does bring some closure to the heartbreaking ordeal they’ve had to endured.”