Man on Trial for Murdering Gay Man Says Two Planned Marriage
A South African man accused of murdering his male partner told the jury that the two had discussed marriage in order to avoid "visa issues." Ricardo Pisano, a 36-year-old from South Africa, is now on trial for the murder of 62-year-old Michael Polding.
The Daily Echo reported that the Southhampton "rent boy" met Polding in December 2009 via an advertisement he had run in a gay magazine. Pisano told the jury that the two men hooked up, eventually moved in together, and Polding not only gave him money to send to his family in South Africa, but also offered to marry him so he could stay in the UK.
Polding even threw him an engagement party, although Pisano said that he did not identify as homosexual and had not wanted to marry the man.
"When I met St. Mikes [his nickname for Polding] I was at a very low point in my life and I wanted to take my own life. He took me out of it and made me see differently, that I should not worry and that something good would come," Pisano said in his Nov. 26 testimony at Lewes Crown Court.
Polding was found dead from a blunt trauma to his chest, and his decomposed body was found wrapped in blankets in his two-bedroom Brighton flat on July 16, 2012, two months after he died. Pisano denies grievous bodily harm but admitted to preventing the lawful burial of a body.
A BBC article reports that Pisano told police that if he were deported, he would be dead within a week, as vigilantes had issues a "fatwa" against him. Pisano said that the group People Against Gangsterism and Drugs had ordered his death because he was a threat.
In this article, he cites fear of this "fatwa" as the reason he fled to New Zealand and the United States after Polding's death, purportedly by suicide.
But in the BBC article, Prosecutor Philip Katz QC argued that Pisano had no job or income, and lived off Polding until he murdered the man.
"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," said Katz. "In fact, we say he abused and assaulted Mr. Polding, resulting in a serious assault." The trial continues.
A Facebook page was started by someone claiming that Polding is his or her uncle, seeking to apprehend Pisano/Brandon Victor Pillay. It has not been updated since Aug. 29, 2012.