Murder accused Paul Johnson told a court the boss he is alleged to have choked to death was "very bad tempered" but "I loved him to bits".
Johnson is alleged to have strangled building firm owner Steve Coulson after turning up at his flat in the early hours - before raiding his safe as he lay dead or dying on his bedroom floor.
The 34-year-old denies murder and assault with intent to rob and is standing trial at Newcastle Crown Court.
Johnson went into the witness box to begin giving evidence in the case and said Mr Coulson was a good friend but claimed he had a short fuse.
He admitted he was taking crack cocaine last year, which he had begun using to try to cope with the fact his mum was suffering from cancer. She died around six months before Mr Coulson, he said.
John Elvidge QC, for Johnson, asked him: “How did you regard Mr Coulson?”
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