Cheung killers to be sentenced next month

Nelson Cheung had lived in the Ballymena area.
Nelson Cheung had lived in the Ballymena area.

The widow of a murdered County Antrim Chinese restauranteur listened in through a live link from Hong Kong today (Tuesday) to hear her husband’s killers will be sentenced next month.

Mrs Kam-Fun Cheung, also known as Winnie, was expected to give evidence to a special ‘Newton Hearing’ at Belfast Crown Court.

However, following legal discussions during a ten-minute closed court session, prosecution counsel David McDowell QC told Mr Justice Treacy that the special hearing into the role played by 28-year-old Christopher David Menaul was now “no longer required to take place”.

Mr Justice Treacy ordered a pre-sentence report on Menaul and fixed a date for his sentencing and that of his three co-accused for Monday, June 19.

Mr Cheung, also known as Nelson, who owned the Double Value restaurant on Randalstown’s Main Street - was travelling home to Ballymena with his wife when they were ambushed and run off the road just after midnight on January 8, 2015.

Whilst 65-year-old Mr Cheung died from up to 18 multiple stab wounds he sustained in the attack, his 57-year-old wife was wounded and robbed.

In November last year, Menaul, originially with an address in Barra Street, Antrim, pleaded guilty to the murder of Mr Cheung and the attack on Mrs Cheung during which her handbag, containing £200 in cash, an iPad and phone and a bank and credit card were taken.

A month after Menaul’s guilty pleas, a second man, Portuguese national Virgilio Augusto Fernando Correia (37) whose address was given as HMP Maghaberry, also pleaded guilty to the murder and robbery.

Then in January this year, husband and wife Gary and Lisa Thompson, who at the time of the murder lived at Cunningham Way in Antrim pleaded to a number of charges arising out of the murder, including assisting offenders, namely allowing the killers to use their home “for refuge, to remove clothing worn during the incident and to clean themselves”.

Gary Thompson (34), whose current address was given as “an address approved by the PSNI and Social Services”, and his 34-year old wife Lisa, with an address at Erskine Park in Ballyclare, also both admitted perverting the course of justice.

Menaul and Correia have already been sentenced to life in prison and will learn next month how many years they must serve of the life term before they may be considered for release by the Parole Commissioners.