A murder suspect was caught walking the labradoodle of a man he allegedly killed despite claiming to “love him like a dad”, a court has heard.

Ian Connell, 39, is on trial accused of the murder of 45-year-old Donald Patience, who was found dead at the foot of his own stairs at his home on Ainsworth Street, Radcliffe, last summer.

Manchester Crown Court heard that money “was at the heart” of the alleged murder and that Connell had sought to take advantage of Mr Patience in the lead up to his death.

Prosecutor Michael Hayton said: “Mr Patience was strangled to death and the most likely explanation to that, the crown say, is that it followed an argument about money."

Dressed in a black Asics t-shirt Connell, of Duke Street, Bolton, looked on as Mr Hayton said that Mr Patience had died from “sustained pressure to the neck".

The Bolton News: The trial opened at Manchester Crown CourtThe trial opened at Manchester Crown Court (Image: Newsquest)

Mr Hayton told the jury of six men and six women that Mr Patience, known affectionately by his middle name as Prentice or “Prent” was “an educated man”.

He said: “He was an educated man, he had roots in Scotland and had lived in Scotland in the past and indeed the not too recent past."

Mr Hayton said that Mr Patience had "access to money" from his work with businesses and family money.

He said: "It is right that because of his access to money there were people who wished to prey upon him, to take advantage of his good nature."

Mr Hayton said that Connell he had been spotted by a postman on August 22 last year climbing into Mr Patience’s house through the window.

He later emerged from the garden with a “medium sized, fluffy white dog” that he did not appear to have had with him when he entered.

The postman then called the police and as they arrived, Connell was talking to two strangers.

The defendant showed one of them a "thick, red mark across his palm" which he claimed he had suffered during an “argument with his girlfriend.”

Mr Hayton said that when questioned, Connell lied to police at the scene.

He said: "When asked by the officers why he was walking Mr Patience's labradoodle, he said Mr Patience had called him and asked him to walk it."

But the prosecutor said that Mr Patience had in fact been dead for around 48 hours by this point.

Mr Hayton said the officers arrested Connell on suspicion of burglary, but a further search then found Mr Patience “dead and decomposing”, under a duvet at the bottom of the stairs.

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When interviewed by police, Mr Hayton said that Connell claimed he "could not have killed Mr Patience as he loved him, he said, like a Dad or like a brother".

Connell claimed to police that "he loved Mr Patience like a father and that he would find whoever had killed him."

But Mr Hayton told the jury that the prosecution’s case is that Mr Patience was "a man he left, decomposing on the floor, whilst he callously we say went about his day-to-day life."

Connell denies murder and manslaughter.

The trial before Mrs Justice Naomi Ellenbogen DBE continues.