Northern Ireland

Accused denies threatening wife over £20,000 payment

A cook threatened to kill his wife if she did not pay him £20,000 in return for their divorce.

The claim was made in the High Court.

But a lawyer for the accused, Quing Shang Tong, claimed it was money owed to him for wedding and travel costs before his wife left him for another man.

The 25-year-old from Lindsay Way, Belfast, denies charges of blackmail and making threats to kill. He was refused bail.

Mr Tong was arrested on 16 November after his estranged wife called police to the Harmony Inn restaurant on the Saintfield Road.

Crown counsel Nicola Auret said the woman was distressed and had locked herself in the toilets because she was afraid of her husband.

"She told police she received a telephone call from the applicant and given a demand of £20,000 from her for their divorce, and if she did not pay the money he would kill her or harm her," the barrister said.

During interviews Mr Tong admitted contacting the woman by phone but denied making any threats.

He accepted asking her for the money but claimed it was owed to him, the court heard.

Alan Blackburn, defending, said the case against his client was a purely domestic situation.

"It's not a case of involvement of the criminal organisations that have existed and do exist in the Chinese community, or of a paramilitary nature," he stressed.

Mr Blackburn told the court the accused has lived in Northern Ireland for 10 years and works at another restaurant in Bangor.

The accused believes his wife used him to get married in order to obtain permanent UK residence, the court heard.

"A number of months ago she left (him) and ran off with another man," Mr Blackburn said.

"He was embittered because of the very substantial outlay he had incurred, including the costs of their wedding.

"At a meeting a number of months ago in front of many witnesses she undertook to repay to him the sum of £20,000 costs. To date she has not repaid a penny of that."

According to the defence the pair met by chance at the Harmony Inn, and when Mr Tong asked about the money she ran off and locked herself in the toilets.

Mr Blackburn added: "He then telephoned her on her mobile phone and asked her to come out and discuss the matter rationally.

"She, however, phoned the police from inside the toilet, who came and arrested him."

Denying Mr Tong's application the judge, Lord Justice Higgins, said: "I am satisfied this case is not an appropriate case in which to grant bail."