Northern Ireland

Nelson Cheung killer 'sick and sorry' for murder

Nelson Cheung Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Nelson Cheung died after his car was forced off the road near Randalstown

A man who stabbed a County Antrim restaurant owner to death during a robbery now feels "sick and sorry" about what he did, a court has heard.

Wing Fu Cheung, known as Nelson Cheung, was murdered after his car was forced off the road in January 2015.

The 64-year-old Ballymena man ran the Double Value Chinese takeaway restaurant in Randalstown.

Mr Cheung's wife Kam-Fung, known as Winnie, was also wounded and robbed in the ambush near the town.

On Monday, she and other members of the Cheung family watched proceedings via Skype in Hong Kong.

Last year, Portuguese national Virgilio Augusto Fernando Correia, 35, who had been living at Grant Avenue in Randalstown at the time of his arrest, and 25-year-old Christopher David Menaul from Barra Street in Belfast admitted Mr Cheung's murder.

Grievous bodily harm

Image copyright Other
Image caption Gary William Thompson, Lisa Thompson, Christopher David Menaul and Virgilio Agusto Fernando Correia

They also both pleaded guilty to wounding Winnie Cheung with intent to do her grievous bodily harm, and robbing her.

The court heard they had been attempting to steal money to pay off drug dealers.

Earlier this year, husband and wife, Gary and Lisa Thompson, admitted assisting offenders by allowing Correia and Menaul to take refuge in their home after the murder, as well as letting them clean themselves and remove clothing.

Both also pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.

Gary Thompson, 34, formerly of Cunningham Way in Antrim, admitted robbery.

Mother-of-two Lisa Thompson, 34, from Erskine Park in Ballyclare, admitted handling stolen goods.

Driving home

Belfast Crown Court heard that Mrs Cheung was driving her husband home after they had closed their restaurant for the night.

She noticed a car was following her and believed a vehicle had been following her along the same route on another occasion.

She pulled in to let the car pass, but another started to follow her and then rammed her, trapping her in the vehicle.

Mr Cheung got out to speak to the driver and was confronted by Correia who was heard by Mrs Cheung demanding: "Money, money."

She saw Correia drag her husband away.

Menaul then dragged Mrs Cheung from the car by her hair. She sustained a head injury and stab wound to her hand.

Her handbag was stolen. It contained a mobile phone and tablet, bank cards, a book with passwords in it and £200.

Drenched with blood

Once Corriea and Menaul made off, Mrs Cheung found her husband lying on the road drenched with blood.

He had been stabbed 18 times in the neck, chest and stomach.

The court was told his injuries "would have led to a rapid death".

It was heard that an hour after the murder, there had been an attempt to use one of Cheung's credit cards. That attempt was made from the Thompsons' home.

The court was told that CCTV cameras in Randalstown picked up the Cheung's car being followed in what was described as a "dry run" in the days before the robbery and murder.

'Pre-planned robbery'

A prosecution barrister said the murder had been "committed for gain in the course of a pre-planned robbery".

The court was told that a victim impact statement from the Cheungs showed the murder had caused them "extreme pain and trauma".

He said the family had led "an industrious and unblemished life" before Nelson Cheung was murdered.

A defence barrister for Lisa Thompson said she had become involved due to "misguided loyalty, stupidity and greed".

A barrister for Virgilio Correia told the court he had been under threat from paramilitaries and drug dealers to come up with money at the time of the murder.

Drug problem

The court heard he had a serious drug problem at the time, and that stabbing Mr Cheung to death had been "a devastating over-reaction".

The lawyer said Correia now feels "sick and sorry" for the two victims and their family.

A defence barrister for Menaul told the court he was the first to plead guilty, and that he was a secondary party in the act of murder.

The court was told he was also under pressure to pay drug dealers for substances that had been bought "on credit".

Gary Thompson's defence barrister said his client was a secondary party to the robbery and had been "passive" in what happened.

All four will be sentenced next week.

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