Killer who murdered 'kind' Radcliffe man and then stole his dog jailed for 19 years

Video report by ITV Granada Reports correspondent Rob Smith

A drug addict who murdered a man, then stole his dog, has been jailed for a minimum of 19 years.

Ian Connell, 39, strangled Donald ‘Prentice’ Patience, 45, in a “fit of rage” after his victim refused to give him more money to feed his heroin and crack cocaine habit.

The decomposing body of Mr Patience, was discovered inside a duvet cover at the bottom of his stairs after police were called to reports of a burglary at his home in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester.

A postman dialled 999 on the morning of August 22 last year when he saw a man climb through the rear kitchen window of the end terrace property in Ainsworth Road.

When police arrived soon afterwards, Connell was nearby with Mr Patience’s white labradoodle, Layla, on a lead.

Donald 'Prentice' Patience Credit: Police Handout

Connell lied to officers telling them that the man he described as his “dear friend” was in Scotland and had given permission to break-in and take the dog for a walk.

The killer later changed his story claiming he was upstairs in the house, asleep after taking heroin and crack, while someone else strangled Mr Patience downstairs.

Michael Hayton KC, prosecuting, said Connell preyed upon the good nature of Mr Patience, who had access to cash from family property.

He said the defendant used Mr Patience as an “open wallet” in receiving thousands of pounds since they first met.

Mr Patience’s sister-in-law gave a statement to the court calling him “one of the kindest and most generous people.” She added there's “a void within the family that will never be filled” and telling his children of his death was a “conversation you should never have to have.”

Mr Patience's dog Layla. Credit: MEN Media

The judge at Manchester Crown Court told Connell he'd shown a "temper" during the trial who shook his head and snorted during sentencing.

As he was taken away to start a life term, that won't allow for parole for 19 years, he said swearing: "It wasn't me, your honour. I didn't do it. End of conversation."