A drug addict who strangled a man he claimed to “love like a dad” to death has been sentenced to life in prison.

Ian Connell, 39, turned on and killed 45-year-old Donald Patience at his home on Ainsworth Road, Radcliffe, in August last year and left him wrapped in a duvet at the bottom of his stairs.

Manchester Crown Court heard how Connell was caught walking Mr Patience’s dog, a white labradoodle, on August 22 as Mr Patience lay dead in his home.

Prosecutor Michael Hayton KC said: “The backdrop of this is money.”

He added: “There was no longer a willingness on the part of Mr Patience to provide funds.”

The Bolton News: Police at Mr Patience's home last AugustPolice at Mr Patience's home last August (Image: Newsquest)

Dressed in a grey Armani EA7 jumper, the shaven headed Connell looked on silently from the dock as Mr Hayton read out a statement from Mr Patience’s sister-in-law.

This laid bare the devastating loss that Mr Patience’s murder had wrought on the family.

Reading the statement, Mr Hayton said: “There is a void within the family that will never be filled.”

He added: “This was a senseless act by Ian Connell against one of the kindest, most generous I know.”

Mr Hayton told the court how Connell, of Duke Street, Bolton, had been living with Mr Patience, an “educated man with his roots in Scotland” for some months before the murder.

Connell had referred to Mr Patience, known affectionately as “Prent”, as “his boss” after doing work around his house.

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

But Connell, a user of heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine since the age of 19, finally turned on and killed Mr Patience when he stopped giving him money for drugs.

Mr Hayton said that the “pleading texts” Connell was shown to have sent Mr Patience shortly before his death showed the depth of his dependence and his fury at being denied money.

Connell then wrapped Mr Patience’s body up in a pink duvet and dragged him to the foot of the stairs for several days where he left him.

The Bolton News: Police investigating on Ainsworth Road last AugustPolice investigating on Ainsworth Road last August (Image: Newsquest)

Mr Hayton said: “He was dealt with less than decently.”

He added: “He was sprayed with air spray, put in a duvet cover and dragged across the room with the intention of putting him in the bathroom.”

The court heard how after the murder, Connell was seen by a postman breaking into Mr Patience’s home, apparently having snapped his key.

The postman called the police and Connell was arrested after being seen talking to two men while walking Mr Patience’s dog nearby, having left the house.

The Bolton News: Connell broke in through a windowConnell broke in through a window (Image: Newsquest)

The officers at first arrested him on suspicion of burglary but on searching the house and finding Mr Patience’s body then arrested him on suspicion of murder.

Connell denied both murder and the lesser charge of manslaughter, claiming that he had loved Mr Patience “like a dad” and was a close friend.

A trial heard how there was also at least one other person in the house along with Connell and Mr Patience at the time of the 45-year-old’s death.

The Bolton News: Ian Connell was sentenced to life in prisonIan Connell was sentenced to life in prison (Image: GMP)

But after a seven day trial, a jury of six men and six women took only a matter of hours to unanimously convict Connell of murder.

Alex Leach KC, defending, argued that the evidence of financial exploitation was “mixed” in this case.

He told the court that Mr Patience had seen Connell as a “vehicle for social contact with others.”

Mr Leach added that the killing of Mr Patience was “not a murder for gain” and that it was possible that Connell had not intended to kill him, despite having strangled the 45-year-old.

He said: “It is a tactic that is sometimes used to bring about a degree of debilitation.”

But The Honourable Mrs Justice Naomi Ellenbogen DBE said that Connell, who has previous convictions for wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and aggravated burglary "shamelessly took advantage" of Mr Patience.

This, she said, was all to feed his "insatiable need for drugs".

The Bolton News: A Crime Scene Investigation van at the scene last AugustA Crime Scene Investigation van at the scene last August (Image: Newsquest)

Addressing the defendant directly, Mrs Justice Ellenbogen added: "Throughout your interactions with Mr Patience in the last days of his life, you showed a callous disregard for his welfare and needs."

She sentenced Connell to life in prison, with a minimum term of 19 years. 

As he was taken down to the cells Connell blurted out "it wasn't me your honour, end of conversation".

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After the sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Rachel Smith of GMP’s Major Incident Team said she hoped Mr Patience's family and friends could take some comfort from the conclusion of the case.

She said:  “Greater Manchester Police, and specifically my investigation team, would like to pass on our condolences to Mr Patience's loved ones.

The Bolton News: Floral tributes left for Donald PatienceFloral tributes left for Donald Patience (Image: Newsquest)

"This was a complex investigation which commenced as a response to a report of a burglary.

"Police officers from Bury district attended quickly and detained Ian Connell in the street whilst further enquiries were made.

"During those enquiries they sadly found the body of Mr Patience, placed inside a duvet cover in his home address.

"As a result of this Connell was then further arrested on suspicion of murder and the investigation was passed to the Major Incident Team.

"My team have worked incredibly hard over the past five months to bring Ian Connell to Justice.

"I want to thank the members of the public who assisted our investigation,  providing vital information that ensured we were able to secure a murder charge and subsequent conviction against Connell.

"I hope today’s sentencing goes some way to giving Mr Patience’s friends and family some comfort knowing his killer is behind bars.”