UK

Statistician found dead in dosshouse turned to drink after accident, trial told

Ian Connell, 39, is on trial at Manchester Crown Court for the murder of Donald ‘Prentice’ Patience.

Former statistician Donald Patience was murdered in a ‘dosshouse’, jurors at Manchester Crown have heard
Donald 'Prentice' Patience Former statistician Donald Patience was murdered in a ‘dosshouse’, jurors at Manchester Crown have heard (Family Handout/PA)

A statistician murdered in a “dosshouse” turned to alcohol and painkillers after a car accident left him unable to work, a court has heard.

Ian Connell, 39, is said to have strangled Donald ‘Prentice’ Patience, 45, following a row over money and then later returned to break into his property to take Mr Patience’s white labradoodle, Layla.

Police were called out to a “burglary in progress” at Mr Patience’s end terrace house in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, on August 22 after a postman saw Connell acting suspiciously.

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

When officers arrived Connell had Layla on a lead outside the address in Ainsworth Road and told them Mr Patience was away in Scotland and had given him permission by phone to force entry because he needed his pet walking.

The Crown say that was the first of “many lies” from Connell and that at some point from August 19 he murdered him and then “callously” went about his day-to-day life as his victim’s body lay decomposing underneath a pink duvet cover at the bottom of the stairs.

It is said that Connell was among a number of people who preyed on Mr Patience’s “good nature” to borrow cash.

On Thursday, jurors in the murder trial at Manchester Crown Court were told more details about the life of Mr Patience, who was known to his family and friends by his middle name, Prentice.

Born in the Highland town of Alness he later 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.

Ian Connell, 39, is on trial at Manchester Crown Court for the murder of Donald ‘Prentice’ Patience
Manchester Crown Court Ian Connell, 39, is on trial at Manchester Crown Court for the murder of Donald ‘Prentice’ Patience

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 later married in 2012 and had three children.

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

The pair argued when Mr Patience later refused her pleas for him return to work, she said.

Mr Patience moved out of the family home in Bamburgh Close, Radcliffe, when she asked him to leave after Christmas 2017, the court heard.

He later moved into the couple’s previous address in Ainsworth Road which they had been renting out.

Flowers left outside Donald Patience’s property on Ainsworth Road
Flowers left outside Donald Patience's property on Ainsworth Road (Peter Byrne/PA) Flowers left outside Donald Patience’s property on Ainsworth Road (Peter Byrne/PA)

Ms Banks said her ex-husband began “hanging around” with a former tenant Neil Flannery who she thought was “dodgy”.

She said: “I blame Flannery for everything that happened to Prent. It was Flannery who introduced Connell to Prent and all the other people he associated with.

“Flannery latched on to Prent. Prent never hid the fact that he had money. He was very open about it.”

She said the house “absolutely stunk of cannabis” when she visited in July 2022. She said: “I told Prent he needed to sort himself out.”

A former Domino’s colleague Paul Parker stated to the court he received a Facebook message from Mr Patience in March 2023 asking for help after his car had been stolen and his phone was missing.

When he called at Ainsworth Road he did not go inside the house but could see the inside was a “mess”, said Mr Parker.

Police officers looking at flowers left outside Mr Patience’s property in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester
Donald Patience death Police officers looking at flowers left outside Mr Patience’s property in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester (Peter Byrne/PA)

He went on: “There was crap everywhere. He looked thin. He was like a homeless person. He had long hair, a beard. His dog, Layla, didn’t look great and looked as if she needed a bath.

“It looked like a dosshouse. I could see there was writing on the walls in the two receptions rooms.”

Mr Patience would often travel to Scotland to look after his father, also called Donald, who had Huntington’s disease, the court was told.

Mr Parker said: “His father passed around Covid time and I think this hit Prentice hard.”

Mr Flannery told the court he was a friend of Mr Patience and visited him regularly after he moved out but added: “We had not as much contact in recent times and that was really because of the people Prentice was hanging around with and the things they were doing.”

He said he thought Connell was homeless and at some point ended up living at Ainsworth Road.

Mr Flannery stated: “On one occasion I took heroin with Connell at Prentice’s house last year. I think I was also drinking at the time.

“I woke up and realised this was not something I wanted to be involved with again, I decided to distance myself from Connell and therefore Prentice because he was living with him at the time.

“About three weeks before his death I was thinking of asking Prentice to stay with me and my parents. I felt he needed help and was struggling. Connell was not living there at the time as far as I knew.

“He didn’t look like he was looking after himself. Prentice didn’t seem to be getting out much.”

A witness statement was also read out from Glen Denning, an associate of Connell, who said the pair would take drugs together and that Connell would regularly get money from a man he called his “boss”.

He recalled an occasion when Connell complained he was no longer receiving cash as he told him: “He has f***ing stopped giving me money. He is taking the f***ing piss. I don’t know why.”

Connell, of Duke Street, Bolton, denies murder.

He has also pleaded not guilty to an alternative count of manslaughter.