A mother and her partner have been found guilty of murdering her four-year-old child by beating and starving him over several months.

Daniel Pelka died after "incomprehensible" cruelty at the hands of his mother Magdelena Luczak, 27, and step-father Mariusz Krezolek, 34.

Daniel was found dead at his home in the Coventry suburb of Holbrooks on 3 March 2012 after suffering a severe blow to the head.

Further tests revealed a total of 40 more injuries across his body as a result of sustained abuse. He had also been starved of food so much over a course of six months that he weighed just over one and a half stone (24lbs) at the time of his death.

Both Luczak and Krezolek had denied murdering their son. A Jury at Birmingham Crown Court found the pair guilty after four hours of deliberations. They will be sentenced on 2 July.

Police said the months of abuse had left Daniel a a ‘bag of bones
Police said the months of abuse had left Daniel a a ‘bag of bones

During the trial, the court heard from a doctor that the body of the emaciated toddler was similar to that of a concentration camp victim.

The court heard how the boy was so hungry he would attempt to steal food from other pupils at his school, as well as forage in school bins and eat beans which had been planted in soil as part of a school experiment.

Daniel's mother claimed he was being treated for a rare eating disorder and told school staff not to feed him.

Further medical tests revealed a high level of sodium in his body, which the investigation attributed to his being force-fed salt as a punishment.

He was also frequently locked in a tiny room without heating, where he was subjected to the horrific abuse and starvation. The pair also submerged the four-year-old in a cold bath as punishment.

Det Insp Chris Hanson, of West Midlands Police, said: "He was beaten, he was drowned, and he was poisoned with salt.

"It was an absolutely wretched existence for him."

He added: "This was a pre-planned, premeditated murder carried out over a period of time. It was a gross betrayal of trust; those with the ultimate duty of care turned Daniel from a beautiful and bright-eyed little boy, into a broken bag of bones.

"It was a callous and wretched murder. They showed him no compassion, no care and not an ounce of kindness. After a savage beating they left him, starving, locked in a room in the dark to die on his own.

"We have worked tirelessly to ensure that we have achieved justice for Daniel and although no sentence will ever accurately reflect the extreme cruelty shown to Daniel we are pleased the perpetrators are behind bars.

"I've not really established any sort of strong motivation why the parents did this to Daniel, as you can see it's completely, gratuitously cruel."

Lisa Windridge, from the West Midland Crown Prosecution Service, said: "This has been an extremely harrowing case in which a young and defenceless child was starved and beaten to death by those who were supposed to have protected and cared for him.

"Not only did Magdelena Luczak fail to protect Daniel from Mariusz Krezolek, but she also played an active role in her son's death. She knew exactly what Krezolek was doing to her son, but rather than seek help from her family or the authorities, she joined in with the abuse."

Daniel's death is now the subject of a Serious Case Review by the Coventry Safeguarding Children Board, which will look into whether social services and police could have intervened.