A shocked father discovered his son had beheaded himself with a home-made guillotine he had secretly erected in his bedroom.

Boyd Taylor is believed to have placed the huge blade over his bed, attaching the contraption to an electrical timing device.

At 3.30am, as he lay beneath it, the timer activated and the blade came crashing down.

The 36-year-old's father, also Boyd, pushed open his bedroom door to find his decapitated son lying in a pool of blood.

Neighbours spoke of their horror at the grisly death and told how the Taylors, who ran a family building firm, led a quiet and apparently normal life.

Police are now investigating the death of Mr Taylor in the early hours of Monday.

His distraught father, who was "in a state of deep shock and trauma" alerted police in the afternoon.

He hadn't been able to get an answer from his son when he set off for work in the morning but returned to find the body in the bedroom.

Police officers went to Shortridge, the name of the cottage the father and son shared in the remote hamlet of Milbourne, near Ponteland, Northumberland.

A police spokesman said: "We are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a 36-year-old man found at his home on Monday.

"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 a bizarre suicide but police are trying to establish whether the guillotine fell as a result of an accident.

The machine was said to have been modelled on the execution instrument used during the French Revolution.

It is believed the victim had spent considerable time and care building the 8ft by 3ft construction.

The heavy blade was attached to a network of wooden planks and levers and was weighed down at its base by paving stones.

The mechanism was timed to send the blade crashing down onto Mr Taylor was lying on an airbed.

One Milbourne couple who had had work done on their house by the Taylors, said: "This is awful. The father will be devestated because for years it has just been the two of them living and working together. Their work was exceptional."

Another customer in the nearby Highlander pub, said: "It is a shock to hear about this, especially that it is the son.

"The father was a bit of a loner and I knew them by sight but they kept themselves to themselves."

One local said: "It was just the two of them living in that bungalow. It looked a little bit dilapidated, I think it could have done with a woman's touch."

It is believed that the dead man's mother, who is separated from his father and lives in Ponteland, was informed of his death yesterday.