A STEPFATHER has gone on trial for mistreating his stepson over a decade.

The defendant, from Darwen, is accused of subjecting the youngster to 'physical and mental abuse' from when he was about four or five until he was a teenager.

The child did not tell anybody what was happening to him until after his mum and the man split up as the defendant had made the alleged victim believe social services would take him away, Preston Crown Court heard.

The boy, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, told the jury that as well as being called names ‘every day’, he had been punched and headbutted, hit over the head with a plastic sword, hit on the head with a tape measure and had his head pushed onto a table.

The court was also told the defendant, 58, held a cushion over the complainant's face, making him ‘frightened for my life’ and also held his head under water in the bathroom sink.

The boy's police interview was played to the jury, in which he said the defendant would often start to get angry because his room was untidy or he had got detention at school.

He said: “He would grab me and throw me to the floor. I used to hurt myself on the bed and hit my head off the wall.”

After one alleged incident when the complainant was in primary school, social services became involved.

When they visited their home, the alleged victim denied that the defendant had hurt him.

He said: "I was scared. I did not know what my mum would think. I did not know what would happen afterwards."

The boy would also make up excuses to explain any injuries such as falling over the dog, the court was told.

The alleged victim told police after his mum and the defendant had split up.

The defendant denies five counts of child cruelty.