A drug addict who murdered a defenceless war veteran in a frenzied stabbing attack has been warned by a judge that he could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Michael Dalton knifed Alan Pedder, 80, a total of 21 times in the head and neck after tricking his way into his home.

Mr Pedder’s body was found in the living room of the house in Gibson Street, Laisterdyke, Bradford, where he had lived alone since the death of his wife. The savage murder was discovered on August 28 by Mr Pedder’s nephew, who alerted the emergency services.

Yesterday Dalton, 44, of Currer Street, Little Germany, Bradford, pleaded guilty to murdering Mr Pedder.

Dalton, wearing a dark casual top, was escorted back to the cells after a short hearing at Leeds Crown Court.

He will remain in custody until he is sentenced on Monday, December 13.

His barrister, Neil Davey QC, asked the court to adjourn the case for the preparation of a probation service report.

Mr Davey added that he was “as satisfied as I can be” that no other reports were required.

Judge Scott Wolstenholme told Dalton: “You have pleaded guilty to murder and the only sentence for murder is imprisonment for life.”

He said the sentencing judge will decide the minimum number of years Dalton must spend behind bars before he can apply for parole.

Judge Wolstenholme added that Dalton could stay in jail for the rest of his life.

It is believed that Dalton befriended Mr Pedder and tricked his way into his home when he was short of drugs money.

He fled the scene after stealing £350 and threw away his blood-stained shoes.

Mr Pedder, who sometimes walked with a stick, was a keen gardener. He was popular with children in the area, giving them gifts at Christmas.

His neighbours were so shocked by his vicious murder that many came forward to help the police and Dalton was caught quickly. They said they remembered Mr Pedder for his kindness and ready smile.

After the case, Mr Pedder’s neighbour, Janice Rooney, 44, said she was relieved Dalton had pleaded guilty.

“I’m just so relieved and pleased for the family,” she said.

“I know what it’s like to go through a family murder when who did it does not admit it. It’s hell.”

Mrs Rooney, who was seven when she and her family moved into a house round the corner from Mr Pedder, said: “He was such a kind man. He was a very private man but incredibly caring. He would stand at his gate – he liked his little chats.

“He had a passion for stray cats and built them a little hut in his garden, I’ve got four of them now. He’d have liked to have known I was looking after them for him.”

“What happened to him in that attack was disgusting. It makes me feel physically sick.”