Man jailed for life for killing baby son

Damion Russell was two years old when he was killed
-Credit: (Image: Lancashire Constabulary/SWNS)

A man who won sole custody of his son before killing him in a 'brutal and sustained assault' has been jailed for life.

Daniel Hardcastle killed Damion Russell, two, at their home in Central Drive, Blackpool in August last year.

Hardcastle claimed the youngster had injured himself after falling and hitting his head on a coffee table. But a pathologist found the extensive injuries suffered by the little boy were inconsistent with that claim.

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The pathologist established that Hardcastle inflicted very severe injuries on Damion by one of two ways. He either forcefully shook him and banged his head against a solid object, such as a coffee table, or he caused Damion’s head to come into contact with a solid object with such force that it caused the little boy's head to move backwards and forwards rapidly enough to cause the injuries to his neck and eyes.

Damion was taken to hospital following the assault, but his injuries were not survivable. He died two days later.

In a four week trial at Preston Crown Court, the court heard that Damion suffered horrendous injuries, including a forceful adult human bite mark to his upper right thigh. He also suffered fractured ribs and bruising across his body.

There was also a tear to the inside of his lip as if a drinking bottle had been forced into his mouth.

-Credit:Lancashire Constabulary
-Credit:Lancashire Constabulary

The jury were told Hardcastle, who had sole care of his son, had started drinking more in the days and weeks before the assault, and reportedly isolated himself from his support network. Two nights before he attacked Damion and caused the injuries which killed him, he spent all night chatting to a woman he met online.

Yesterday, July 10, Hardcastle was found guilty of murder, with the jury taking just two hours to reach their unanimous verdict. Today, he was jailed for life with a minimum term of 22 years before he will be able to apply for parole.

Detective Superintendent Al Davies, of Lancashire Constabulary's Force Major Investigation Team, said: “First and foremost my thoughts today are with Damion’s loved ones. I hope this sentence gives them some sense that while nothing can bring Damion back that justice has been done for their loved one.

“Damion’s murder was an unspeakably vile and heinous act committed by the very man Damion should have been able to rely upon to love and protect him – his own father.”

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