A SOUTHAMPTON rent boy murdered a man and left him "to rot" in his flat for nearly two months after bleeding him dry financially, a court has heard.

The badly decomposed body of Michael Polding, 62, 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, Kemp Town, Brighton died nearly two months earlier from "blunt force trauma" to his chest, a jury was told.

Prosecutor Philip Katz QC told Lewes Crown Court that he was murdered by Ricardo Pisano, 36, who he met in December 2009 after advertising himself in a gay magazine as a rent boy.

Opening the Crown's case at the start of a five-week trial, Mr Katz said that 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.

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.

In police interview, 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."

Mr Polding, who came from a large Scots family, 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.

Pisano, 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.