Man killed baby son in 'brutal and sustained assault'

Daniel Hardcastle was found guilty of murder after a four week trial
-Credit: (Image: Lancashire Constabulary)

A man killed his two-year-old son in a 'horrifically violent' attack in their home.

Daniel Hardcastle, 31, murdered Damion Russell in their home at Central Drive in Blackpool in August last year.

Hardcastle clamed Damion had hurt himself after falling and hitting his head on a coffee table. But a pathologist found the extensive injuries suffered by the toddler 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.

Damion Russell was two years old when he died
Damion Russell was two years old when he died -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.

At the end of the trial, Hardcastle was found guilty of murder. He will be sentenced later.

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. Like any young child Damion had the right to be loved and cherished by the man who should have done everything he could to protect him. Instead, he found himself subjected to a horrifically violent and sustained assault which caused the injuries which sadly led to his death.

“Only Daniel Hardcastle can say exactly what happened on that fateful day or why he did what he did, but this was no childhood accident that ended in tragedy. The nature and extent of the fatal injuries, deliberately inflicted by Hardcastle were done with intent to cause at least really serious harm and were the direct cause of Damion’s tragic death.”

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