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25th Aug 2023

Man found dead after burglars broke into his home to steal his labradoodle

Steve Hopkins

‘We are all truly heartbroken at this news and we are all struggling to come to terms with his death’

A murder investigation has been launched after police were called out over the theft of a beloved pet and found its owner dead.

Around 10.30am Tuesday, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) responded to a report a burglary was in progress at Ainsworth Road, Radcliffe, where a white labradoodle had been taken. Labradoodle puppies sell between £700-£1,500.

On searching the property, police found the body of Donald ‘Prentice’ Patience.

The 45-year-old was declared dead at the scene.

Patience’s dog, believed to be called Layla, was reportedly later recovered at a dog grooming parlour nearby some 160ft from the crime scene, MailOnline reported. GMP said the pet is now being looked after by the relevant authority.

Patience’s loved ones on Friday described him as “a much-loved son, brother and father and will be sorely missed by many, affectionately known as Prentice”.

His ex-wife, Kirsty, with whom he shared three children, remembered him as an “incredible man” who “adored his children”.

‘This breaks my heart to have to write this,” she wrote on social media.

“As a lot of you may have already seen, this week we lost an extremely incredible man. Despite whatever happened between us, Prentice was an amazing father and adored his children.

“We are all truly heart broken at this news and we are all struggling to come to terms with his death.”

A Home Office post-mortem examination concluded Patience’s death was suspicious.

Three men have been arrested on suspicion of murder: Two, aged 27 and 41, have been questioned and released on bail pending further enquiries and a 39-year-old remains in custody.

Mick Hewitson, who owns The Dog Shop, told the publication that a man had come in saying he lived nearby and that his “boss wants his dog’s hair cut.” The dog was an off-white labradoodle, he said.

He declined the job as he was injured and was reducing his workload. A man was arrested soon after, Hewitson told the Mail.

Detective Chief Inspector Rachel Smith of GMP’s Major Incident Team said the force’s thoughts were with Patience’s family at this “extremely distressing time”.

She said police believe it was a “targeted attack” and reassured the public “as I understand there will be alarm when finding out about this, but we are confident it is a targeted attack.”

Smith appealed for anyone with information, eyewitness accounts, or footage, of any activity, that may be linked to the investigation to come forward.

Police also want to hear from anyone who knew Patience or had 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 18 August 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,” Smith explained.

“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.”

Anyone with information is urged to call police 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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