Jury retires in Kemp Town rent boy murder case

The Argus: Ricardo Pisano Ricardo Pisano

A jury has retired to consider its verdicts in the trial of a rent boy accused of murdering a man and leaving him to rot in his Brighton flat for nearly two months after bleeding him dry financially.

Ricardo Pisano, 36, allegedly killed openly gay Michael Polding, 62, whose body was found by police neatly positioned and wrapped up in bedding on July 16 last year.

Mr Polding, who lived in a rented two-bedroom basement flat in St George's Road, Brighton, East Sussex, died nearly two months earlier from "blunt force trauma" to his chest.

Pisano met Mr Polding in December 2009 after Pisano advertised himself in a gay magazine as a rent boy, prosecutor Philip Katz QC told the trial at Lewes Crown Court.

Pisano, who used a number of aliases, moved in with Mr Polding while he lived in Croydon, south London, then followed him down to the coast in Brighton.

Mr Katz told the jury of nine women and three men: "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 Crown's case is that 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.

"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."

Pisano evaded capture for nearly a year until he was arrested at a house in Southampton, Hampshire, on May 7 under a different name, Mr Katz added.

Giving evidence at the trial, Pisano broke down in tears as he said he returned to the flat to find Mr Polding - whom he called St Mikes - had hanged himself from a banister in an apparent suicide.

Pisano, dubbed The Artful Dodger after escaping from a New Zealand jail, fled the scene because he feared deportation to South Africa where a "fatwa" had been issued against him, he told officers.

He told officers that the controversial vigilante group People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad) had ordered his death in South Africa because he was deemed "troublesome or a threat".

Pisano told the court: "He was hanging from the stairs, the banister. My whole world stopped really. I was in trouble because St Mikes is hanged.''

He added: "I felt like I was a coward leaving him. I did not want to leave him like that and I switched the clock radio on because I knew he liked classical music.''

Pisano, formerly of Methuen Street, Southampton, denies murder and causing grievous bodily harm but has admitted preventing the lawful and decent burial of a body, the jury has heard.

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