Ricardo Pisano trial: Michael Polding killed by prostitute
A male prostitute has been jailed for 18-and-a-half years for attacking and killing a man he lived with and leaving his body to rot.
Ricardo Pisano, 36, killed 62-year-old Michael Polding in Brighton last year.
Pisano was convicted of manslaughter and causing actual bodily harm but cleared of murder.
Lewes Crown Court heard the men had a complicated relationship which began in 2009 when Mr Polding answered an advert for a male prostitute.
Jurors heard Mr Polding died at his St George's Road flat from "blunt force trauma" to his chest. His body was found by police in July 2012 but police believe he had been dead for two months.
'Bled dry financially'
During the trial, the court heard Pisano did not consider himself gay but did believe they were friends.
Pisano said Mr Polding had thrown an engagement party at one point but that he did not feel comfortable about it.
Prosecutor Philip Katz told the court: "Really from the word go, this defendant lived off Michael Polding financially. He had no job and no income.
"This defendant and other friends of his effectively bled Mr Polding dry financially and this defendant, while in this period, pretended to act as his carer and even godson," the court was told.
"In fact, we say, he abused and assaulted Mr Polding, resulting in a serious assault.
"He eventually killed him and, having killed him, left him to rot."
Ricardo Pisano was not his real name and he had a daughter and an ex-wife in South Africa, whom he had not seen since leaving the country in 2000, the jury heard.
Pisano said he had been jailed in New Zealand for extortion, then lived in Australia for 18 months and arrived in the UK illegally in 2004.
He said Mr Polding knew about some of his past, including that he feared for his life if he returned to South Africa.
Pisano had claimed in a police interview that Mr Polding committed suicide by hanging himself from a banister.
He said he tried and failed to revive him and then panicked and fled.
Pisano, who admitted a charge of preventing the lawful and decent burial of a body, went on the run for nearly a year until he was arrested in Southampton on 7 May.
After the hearing, Sussex Police said Mr Polding was found dead in July, but it was believed he had died in May.
Det Ch Insp Jon Fanner said: "Michael Polding was a vulnerable man who trusted the defendant to care for and look after him.
"That trust was breached and the defendant was responsible for Michael's death.
"After he had died, the defendant abandoned the body of the man he claimed to care for and left Sussex in order to avoid detection and to save himself.
"The fact that Michael's body lay undisturbed for several weeks before he was found has meant further anguish for the Polding family, on top of their loved one's death."
In a statement issued through police, Mr Polding's sister Mary McKeown said the verdict had brought justice but was "little comfort against the thought of how we lost him".
She said Mr Polding was happy, loving and gentle, and always ready to help others when needed.
"We miss Michael every hour of every day. He will always be in our thoughts," she said.