Drug addict found guilty of murdering father-of-three

A drug addict faces a life sentence after he was found guilty of the murder of a statistician.

The decomposing body of Donald Prentice Patience, 45, was discovered inside a duvet cover at the bottom of his stairs after police were called to a burglary at his home in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester.

A postman dialled 999 on the morning of August 22 last year when he saw Ian Connell, 39, 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.

Homeless Connell lied to officers that his “dear friend” was in Scotland and had given him permission to break into his property so he could walk the dog, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Mr Patience, known to family and friends by his middle name, had been strangled at least a day before.

Donald Patience death
Police outside Donald Prentice Patience’s property in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester (Peter Byrne/PA)

The prosecution said Connell attacked his victim after a probable row over money.

Michael Hayton KC told jurors Connell had preyed upon the good nature of Mr Prentice, 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 met in 2020, but accused Connell of losing his temper when he was refused cash for the first time to buy more drugs.

Born in the Highland town of Alness, Mr Patience graduated from Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University as an actuary in 2001, the court heard.

He found work carrying out statistical analysis for pensions but became unwell from the “high pressure job” and spent a short time in a Priory clinic.

Mr Patience moved to Greater Manchester in around 2005 and set up a Domino’s pizza restaurant franchise in Bury with one of his brothers, jurors were told.

In a statement read to the court, his ex-wife Kirsty Banks said she met him while working there and they married in 2012 and had three children.

Floral tributes
Floral tributes were left outside the property in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, where Donald Prentice Patience was found dead (PA)

Ms Banks said “Prent” had a car accident in 2015 which left him temporarily unable to work and he “started to drink more” and eventually became “addicted to painkillers”.

Mr Patience later left the family home and moved into the couple’s previous address in Ainsworth Road, which they had been renting out.

Ms Banks said her ex-husband began “hanging around” with a “dodgy” former tenant who introduced Connell to him.

Giving evidence, Connell said he had “never raised my hand to that man” and claimed he was asleep upstairs in a spare room and under the influence of heroin and crack cocaine when someone else strangled Mr Patience.

He said he “panicked” after he said he eventually discovered the body and went on to tell lies to police at the scene and in his initial interview with detectives.

Connell claimed the pair “hit it off straight away” and he went on to call Mr Patience “boss” as he did odd jobs for him such as painting and decorating, taking Layla for walks, and cleaning the house.

Connell said he had used heroin and crack cocaine from about the age of 19 and Mr Patience allowed him and others to use drugs at the house.

The jury heard Connell visited Mr Patience’s home on the evening of August 19 and stayed in and around the address until police discovered the body.

Following the unanimous verdict, Connell told trial judge Mrs Justice Ellenbogen: “I know I’m not supposed to speak out of turn but I’m not guilty of this offence.”

Connell, from Bolton, will be sentenced on March 6.