A convicted killer who claimed he was entitled to his victim's £250,000 estate has been condemned by a judge for his exploitation of "a vulnerable old man".

Hairdresser Dominic Dalton, serving six years for the manslaughter of his lover Bernard Murphy, had asked a High Court judge to exempt him from the legal principle which bars people profiting from their crimes.

His plea was rejected six weeks ago and yesterday Mr Justice Patten gave detailed reasons for his decision.

The judge ruled that, although retired society hairdresser Mr Murphy had left Dalton the bulk of his estate in a 1996 will, Dalton was not entitled to the money.

The judge said: "Mr Murphy was killed by someone he had befriended and to whom he had only ever been generous. He was rewarded by violence and abuse, both physical and financial."

Over a two-year period beginning in 1998, £156,000 of Mr Murphy's money was spent on holidays, jewellery and improvements to the house the men shared in Crown Street, Kemp Town, Brighton.

The "reckless" spending, most of which was not to the benefit of Mr Murphy, was only restrained by the intervention of his bank.

The judge said: "If ever there was a case of a vulnerable old man being exploited, this is it."

Dalton, 44, strangled 79-year-old Dublin-born Mr Murphy with his dressing gown cord after an argument at their home in December 2000.

He denied murder but in July 2001 was convicted by a jury at Lewes Crown Court of manslaughter through diminished responsibility, which he admitted.

Dalton said he was suffering from depression when he "snapped" in frustration.

In his will, Mr Murphy - whose clients included stars such as Paulette Goddard and Una Stubbs - named Dalton as the main beneficiary.

Mr Murphy's nephews and nieces successfully contested Dalton's claim he was their uncle's devoted carer during the many years he was suffering from senile dementia.

The judge said Mr Murphy was a "genteel" man of good taste who took pride in his appearance and his home.

He was sociable and gregarious, without being ostentatious or extravagant.

On the other hand, witnesses said Dalton had no taste, had a penchant for gold jewellery and could be foul-mouthed, threatening and abusive when drunk.

He was described by one of Mr Murphy's friends as "Bernard's bit of rough".

The judge said there was some bond between them but Dalton, as Mr Murphy's carer, took advantage of him.

"However awkward and difficult to deal with Mr Murphy may at times have been, it must have been clear he was a vulnerable old man who needed proper care."

He did not accept Dalton's portrayal of a "close and loving" relationship during Mr Murphy's latter years.