Murder accused said dog owner asked him to break into home to walk labradoodle

A dog owner’s decomposing body was discovered in his home shortly after a burglary suspect told police he was asked to break in and take his labradoodle for a walk, a court heard.

Donald Patience, 45, was found underneath a duvet cover by officers who responded to reports of a burglary at his end terrace house in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, on the morning of August 22 last year.

Ian Connell, 39, is on trial at Manchester Crown Court accused of murdering Mr Patience by strangling him at the address at some time from August 19 onwards.

The court previously heard a postman called 999 when he saw a male figure climbing through a rear window of the property in Ainsworth Road and heard a noise like someone trying to force entry.

The same male later emerged from the back garden with a “medium-sized, fluffy” white dog on a lead, jurors were told.

Donald Patience death
Police officers outside Donald Patience’s property in Ainsworth Road, Radcliffe (Peter Byrne/PA)

When officers approached he gave his name, date of birth and said he was of no fixed abode.

In a statement read to the court, Pc Alex Lythgoe said: “I asked who did the dog belong to and he said it was his mate Donald’s, who he worked for.

“He said Donald had multiple properties but was currently in Scotland and he had spoken to Donald on the phone and was asked to enter the house and get his dog out.”

Connell went on to explain to the officer that he had a key to the property but it snapped in the door lock, jurors heard.

Pc Lythgoe said: “He said he phoned Donald back who told him to break in and claimed he was taking the dog for a walk when we stopped him.”

The defendant was found to be in possession of a wallet containing Mr Patience’s driving licence and library card, as well as four latex gloves.

Connell was taken into custody on suspicion of burglary before other officers conducted a thorough search of the “unkempt” property and found Mr Patience’s concealed body at the bottom of his staircase.

Opening the prosecution case on Tuesday, Michael Hayton KC told jurors that Mr Patience was an “educated man” who had roots in Scotland.

Mr Patience, more commonly known by his middle name Prentice, had access to family money from property, said the prosecutor.

He said “Mr Patience’s access to money and also perhaps his good nature led to others taking advantage of him, abusing his generosity and using his access to funds.

“The Crown say one such person who sought to take advantage in this way was Ian Connell, and money was central to many of the communications between the two men in the lead-up to Mr Patience’s death.

“The only possible explanation for Mr Patience’s death is that pressure was applied to his neck until he was dead. He was strangled to death.

“The most likely explanation is that it followed an argument of some sort about money.”

Mr Patience was pronounced dead at the scene by a paramedic shortly after midday as police later took his labradoodle to a local animal sanctuary.

Connell, of Duke Street, Bolton, denies the murder of Mr Patience who he later told detectives he loved “like a brother”.

He has also pleaded not guilty to an alternative count of manslaughter.

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