An inquest into “a much-loved son, brother and father” at the centre of a murder investigation has opened.

Police were called to reports of a burglary in progress at 10.30am on Tuesday, August 22 at a house on Ainsworth Road in Radcliffe with a white labradoodle dog being taken before officers discovered the body of Donald Prentice Patience, who was aged 45.

At Rochdale Coroners' Court, police coroners officer Kathy Dickson said on the morning of that day a passer-by saw an unknown man leaving Mr Patience’s address.

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They thought this looked "suspicious" and contacted the police, the court was told.

Ms Dickson said: “Police arrested the male who was still in the area and then entered Mr Patience’s address where they discovered his body.”

Paramedics arrived and pronounced Mr Patience dead.

An investigation has commenced with no cause of death being ruled as of yet.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) previously said the death was "suspicious" after a postmortem investigation.

The court heard Mr Patience was born in Inverness and was working as an estate agent. He was divorced at the time of his death.

Area coroner Catherine McKenna set the inquest trial date for February 19 next year.

In a tribute, Mr Patience's loved ones described him as “a much-loved son, brother and father and will be sorely missed by many, affectionately known as Prentice".

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Ian Gary Connell, 39, of Duke Street, Bolton, has been charged with murder and appeared at Manchester and Salford Magistrates' Court on August 26.

Two other men, aged 27 and 41, have been bailed pending further enquiries.

After the police probe was launched, Detective Chief Inspector Rachel Smith of GMP's Major Incident Team said: "As a force, we would like to pass on our condolences to Donald's loved ones at this extremely distressing time, we are doing all we can to get the answers they deserve and find out what has happened.

“I would like to reassure the local public, as I understand there will be alarm when finding out about this, but we are confident it is a targeted attack.

“We now want to appeal to the local community for any eyewitness accounts or footage of any activity that we may be able to link to this investigation.

“We are also looking for people who may know Donald, have seen him walking his beloved white labradoodle in the local area or have any knowledge of any activity at or near his address, which is an end-terrace on Ainsworth Road, since Friday, August 18, 2023.

“It is crucial we have as much detail as possible to help piece together what has happened in this tragic incident where someone has sadly lost their life.

“We are keeping all available lines of enquiry open but no matter how small, your piece of information may be that crucial bit of evidence we need that can help us with this investigation.”

If anyone has any information or specific detail regarding the incident or Donald, they are asked to contact GMP’s Major Incident Team direct on 0161 856 3635 or 101 quoting incident number 1139 of 22/08/2023 or via the independent charity - Crimestoppers - on 0800 555 111.

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