A DRUG dealer who brutally tortured a "vulnerable" man he claimed was his friend has been jailed for life.

Detectives have described Atif Muhmood's treatment of Christopher Moore, who dealt heroin on his behalf, as "depraved."

His family have labelled Muhmood a "monstrous sadistic animal" who had left Mr Moore in immense pain before his tragic death.

Trial judge Mark Brown, Recorder of Preston, recommended that Muhmood should serve a minimium of 32 years before being considered for parole.

Before his death, Mr Moore had an unknown implement shoved so hard up his anus by Muhmood that it perforated his bowel, Preston Crown Court heard.

The victim also had a number of his teeth extracted and his scrotum crushed by the 39-year-old, who attacked him after finding out he had been 'dipping' into some of his drug deals for himself.

Friends and neighbours of Mr Moore, who had drink and drugs problems himself, recalled how they noticed a marked deterioration in his health before his eventual demise.

Mohammed Farooq, for whom he had previously worked as a roofer, said he had seen him walking around Nelson with bruises to his face but he just "passed it off as a laugh and a joke".

One of his neighbours, Bushra Yakub, had even called police once, when she could hear the sounds of someone being assaulted at his Derby Street home.

Another associate, Kamran Sarawar, recalled how Mr Moore was a "timid sort of man", who was known as a runner for Muhmood.

David McLachlan QC, prosecuting, said there had been complaints from Muhmood’s customers that the bags of heroin he was selling were ‘light’.

Muhmood suspected that Mr Moore was dipping into the bags himself and pledged to ‘sort it’, the court heard.

Jurors were told how Mr Moore had been found dead on June 20 last year. Initially it was thought his death may have been drug-related, before a Home Office post-mortem examination revealed the extent of his injuries.

Mr Moore had suffered 58 different external injuries, by the time of his death.

Mr McLachlan added: “This was a case of persistent and sadistic torture.”

Mr Moore had ‘fallen on hard times’ after losing his job, the court heard and had turned to drink and drugs.

Muhmood tried to claim that a 'mystery man', captured on CCTV entering and leaving the victim's home shortly before his death, may have been responsible.

But prosecutors said the man was in fact Muhmood, wearing a hoodie as a disguise, who was arrested wearing the same distinctive trainers he was seen in on the footage.

Mr McLachlan said the man had only been in the property for four minutes, which was nowhere near long enough to inflict the severity of injuries Mr Moore suffered.

Speaking after the case, Temp Det Supt Andy Cribbin, said: “Atif Muhmood carried out a depraved and prolonged attack on Christopher Moore that was targeted against a vulnerable defenceless man in his own home.

"Muhmood had bullied Christopher, as part of his drug supplying activities, and had taken control of his house in the days leading up to his death.

"Christopher’s family have had to endure not only his loss, but the lies told by Mahmood during his police interviews and then giving no explanation as to his actions during his trial.

"Their dignity and calmness throughout is to their great credit. My thoughts are with Christopher’s family and friends as they continue to struggle to come to terms with their loss.

“I would like to thank the jury for their careful deliberations in what was a distressing case for them to hear.”

In a statement, Mr Moore's family said: "We would like to thank the police, prosecution team, Judge Brown and everyone else behind the scenes.

"The death of Chris has caused us immense pain but this pain is nothing in comparison to the pain and suffering that Chris must have felt.

"Atif Muhmood’s actions alone were inhumane and although he may have felt invisible at the time, murderers always fall.

"Atif Muhmood didn’t even have the courage to take the stand and answer a single question, that's because he was as much a coward now as he was then, picking on a seven stone vulnerable man, not someone who could fight back.”

"Today's verdict is the right one, without question. Atif Muhmood is a monstrous sadistic animal and we are safer knowing he is going to spend many years in prison."