A South African national has been jailed for 18 and-a-half years for killing a gay man in Brighton.

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 on Monday.

Lewes Crown Court heard the men had a complicated relationship which began in 2009 when Mr Polding answered an advert for a male prostitute.

The body of Mr Polding was found by police in his flat on St George’s Road, Brighton, on 16 July last year, nearly two months after his death.

Pisano, also known as Brandon Victor Pillay, Roots Lootahin, Ree or Ricky, was arrested in May after he was detained at a house in Southampton.

Prosecutor Philip Katz said during the trial: “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.”

On Monday evening, Detective Chief Inspector Jon Fanner, of Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, 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.”

Mr Polding’s sister, Mary McKeown, speaking on behalf of the family, said: “As a family we are pleased that the trial is over and that justice has been done for our brother Michael.

“The time since we were told of Michael’s death has been a rollercoaster for the family, with far more downs than ups. We have managed to get through the weeks and months only by supporting each other.

“Today’s verdict means that we have justice for Michael although that is little comfort against the thought of how we lost him.

“Michael was a happy, loving and gentle person, always ready to help others when needed. He was fun and always enjoyed the company of family and friends.

“When you were with him you knew you would have a great time and would spend the day laughing and enjoying yourself.

“We would like to put on record our appreciation for all the effort put into this case by the various members of Sussex Police.”

She added: “We miss Michael every hour of every day. He will always be in our thoughts.”