The man accused of murdering a 62-year-old gay man in Brighton previously worked as a rent boy, a jury has heard.

The body of Michael Polding was discovered at his home in St George’s Road in the Kemptown area of Brighton in July 2012.

As the trial got underway at Lewes Crown Court, Prosecutor Philip Katz QC alleged that Mr Polding was murdered by Ricardo Pisano, 36, who he met in December 2009 after Mr Pisano advertised himself in a gay magazine as a rent boy.

Mr Katz said that Mr Pisano, who used a number of different names, moved in with Mr Polding while he lived in Croydon, south London, then followed him down to Brighton in 2011.

Mr Katz told the jury: “The prosecution say that really from the word go this defendant lived off Michael Polding financially.

“He had no job and no income, and when Mr Polding decided to sell up in Croydon and move to Brighton, this defendant moved with him.”

The prosecution claimed the “defendant and other friends of his effectively bled Mr Polding dry financially” and that Mr Pisano “pretended to act as his carer and even godson.”

Mr Katz added: “In fact, we say he abused and assaulted Mr Polding, resulting in a serious assault.

“We say that he eventually killed him, and having killed him, left him to rot.”

Mr Pisano was arrested at a house in Southampton, Hampshire, on 7 May. He had evaded capture for nearly a year.

In a police interview, Mr Pisano claimed he had come home to Mr Polding’s flat to find he had committed suicide by hanging himself from a bannister, towards the end of May last year.

Mr Katz said: “He said he tried and failed to revive Mr Polding and had then panicked.

“He said there were people in South Africa who wanted to kill him and his family and that was why he had been unable to tell anyone about the death of Mr Polding, and that was why he had to flee the scene and not tell anyone what happened.”

The court heard Mr Polding had previously been in a long-term relationship but had been drinking heavily and suffered health problems, including osteoporosis.

Despite his numerous problems, his family did not consider him the “suicidal type”, Mr Katz said.

Ricardo Pisano, 36, of Southampton, Hampshire, denies murder and grievous bodily harm but has admitted preventing the lawful and decent burial of a body

The trial continues.

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