A man has been found guilty of murdering his two-year-old son.

Daniel Hardcastle killed Damion Russell in what police described as a "brutal and sustained" assault at their home in Blackpool.

Hardcastle claimed the child had injured himself after falling and hitting his head on a coffee table, but a pathologist found the extensive injuries were inconsistent with that claim.

He found Hardcastle, of Central Drive, had inflicted very severe injuries to Damion by either forcefully shaking him and then banging his head against a solid object, or caused his head to come into contact with a solid object with such force it caused injury to his neck and eyes.

Daniel HardcastleDaniel Hardcastle (Image: Lancashire Police)

Damion was taken to hospital following the assault in August of last year but died two days later.

Hardcastle was found guilty of murder today (July 10) after a four-week trial at Preston Crown Court.

The court heard Damion suffered "horrendous" injuries including a forceful adult human bite mark to his upper right thigh. He had also suffered fractured ribs and bruising across his body.

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

Damion RussellDamion Russell (Image: Lancashire Police)

The jury were told Hardcastle, who had sole care of his son, had started drinking more in the days and weeks before the assault.

He had isolated himself from his support network and the two nights immediately before he assaulted Damion he spent all night chatting to a woman he had met online.

Det Supt Al Davies, of the 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.”

Hardcastle will be sentenced at Preston Crown Court tomorrow (Thursday, July 11).