A murder suspect says he thought he alleged victim was “playing a joke” as he lay dead on his own couch, a court has heard.

Ian Connell, 39, took to the witness box at Manchester Crown Court where he denied murdering 45-year-old Donald Patience on Ainsworth Road, Radcliffe in August last year.

Answering a series of questions from Andrew Leach, defending, Connell said he had found Mr Patience, who he knew as “Prent” dead in the house on his couch after staying over.

He said: "At first when I'd gone in I thought it was a mannequin, I didn't think it was him, I thought he was playing some sort of joke.

"I thought he'd gone to Scotland."

The Bolton News: Mr Patience was found dead at the age of 45Mr Patience was found dead at the age of 45 (Image: GMP)

Connell, of Duke Street, Bolton, told the court that thinking the body was a mannequin, he'd gone up to it "giggling” but on getting closer he could see what looked like a blood stained pillow case.

He said: "That's when I realised, the realisation came in at the same time the pillow case was coming off his neck."

He added: "That's when I realised, I started panicking."

Connell claimed the experience was "surreal" and that he had never found a dead body before.

The Bolton News: Connell is alleged to have broken and window at the house and climbed inConnell is alleged to have broken and window at the house and climbed in (Image: Newsquest)

He said that he tried to move the body himself and did not call the emergency services because he “wasn’t thinking.”

Connell said: "I don't contact the emergency service myself in any situation."

Asked why, he added: "I normally sort things out myself."

Connell was arrested on August 22 last year while walking Mr Patience’s dog, a white labradoodle.

He had been seen by a postman earlier that day appearing to climb into break a window and climb into the house.

Connell said he had done so because his key had "snapped."

He was at first arrested on suspicion of burglary before being arrested again on suspicion of murder after police discovered Mr Patience’s body on searching the house.

Questioned in the witness box, Connell accepted that he had lied to police at the scene when he told them he believed Mr Patience was in Scotland, when he knew him to be dead.

But he says he admitted this straight away when brought to Bolton Police Station.

Connell told the court. "I just felt weird, didn't feel myself, didn't feel normal."

He said that when interviewed by police he was "not thinking straight."

Taking questions from Mr Leach, Connell told the jury of six men and six women that he had been taking crack cocaine and heroin “off and on” since the age of 19.

He had first met Mr Patience several years ago and regularly stayed over at his house since then, along with several other men.

He told the court that he came to have his own room at Mr Patience’s house while “sofa surfing.”

Connell said that Mr Patience often needed work doing like "painting and decorating, things like that.”

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He also carried out tasks like "taking his dog from a walk, gardening, cleaning his house.”

Connell said he at one point referred to Mr Patience as “boss” during a phone call, which friends of theirs "found funny", meaning the name stuck.

He said: "Prent liked it and he kept referring to himself as my boss when we'd go to other places."

But Connell also said that he continued to take crack cocaine and heroin regularly and was doing so in the days around Mr Patience’s death.

The trial, before Mrs Justice Naomi Ellenbogen DBE continues.