A horrified father discovered his son had been beheaded with a home-made guillotine he had secretly built in his bedroom.

Boyd Taylor, 36, is believed to have attached the contraption to an electrical timing device.

At 3.30am, as he lay beneath it on an airbed, the timer activated and the huge blade came crashing down on him.

Mr Taylor's father, also called Boyd, pushed open his bedroom door to find his decapitated son. He is said to be in a state of "deep shock and trauma".

Neighbours spoke of their shock at the tragedy and told how the Taylors, who ran a family building firm, led a quiet life.

Mr Taylor senior had not been able to get an answer from his son when he set off for work on Monday morning but returned that afternoon and found the body. Police officers went to the cottage the father and son shared in the remote hamlet of Milbourne, near Ponteland, Northumberland.

A police spokesman said: "There are no suspicious circumstances. Further inquiries are being made into the man's background and events which led up to the death. A report is being compiled for the coroner."

It is understood Mr Taylor's death is being treated as suicide, but police are trying to establish whether the guillotine could have fallen accidentally.

It is believed the victim had spent considerable care building the 8ft by 3ft mechanism of planks and levers.

One Milbourne couple said: "The father will be devastated because for years it has just been the two of them living and working together."