Father accused of murdering son says he 'collided with coffee table’

A father accused of murdering his two-year-old son has told a court that he found the child on the floor ‘after he collided with a coffee table’.

Daniel Hardcastle, 31, told a jury that he was in the kitchen in their home in Blackpool when he heard a ‘thud’ in another room on August 19 last year.

Preston Crown Court heard that he found his son Damion Russell lying face down next to the coffee table. He searched ‘how to give CPR’ on YouTube after seeing ‘blood coming from his mouth’ before calling 999, the jury heard.

Damion, who was in cardiac and respiratory arrest, was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital. He was later transferred to Manchester Children’s Hospital on life support but died two days later. 

Damion had been removed from his mother by Lancashire and Blackpool Social Services and spent several months with foster parents before he was eventually placed in Hardcastle’s car, the court heard. He was unaware he was the biological father.

Hardcastle, a tattoo artist, denies murder.

Jurors heard Hardcastle said he wanted to rise to the challenge of being a father and raise the youngster, who was suffering from development delays. 

The family granted parental responsibility to Hardcastle after social workers undertook a five month long assessment.

The court was told social workers had no concerns about the bond between Hardcastle and his son and the case was closed on July 28 last year. 

Around three weeks later, on August 19, Hardcastle told the court he got up at around 8am and made breakfast for Damion. He then let Damion play while he sorted washing and washed up in the kitchen. 

At 11.05am, Hardcastle carried out three Google searches, asking: ‘How long do bruises take to heal?’ 

He told the jury they were ‘harmless searches’ as he was ‘scared that people would think the bruises were caused by me’.

When asked by his barrister John Jones KC whether the bruises had been caused by him, he replied: ‘No.’

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