Forensic report ‘distances’ Cheung murder accused from vehicle - barrister

Nelson Cheung
Nelson Cheung

A barrister for a man accused of the murder of Nelson Cheung has claimed forensic evidence suggests his client was not in the vehicle used by the killers.

Michael Smyth was speaking at Ballymena Magistrates Court during a remand hearing for Virgilio Augusto Fernando Correia, who is accused of the murder of Randalstown businessman Mr Cheung and the attempted murder of his wife Winnie, on a date between January 6-9.

Correia, with an address at Grant Avenue, Randalstown, and two other are further charged with robbing Mrs Cheung of a handbag, iPad, iPhone, £200 cash and a bank card and with attempting to rob Mr Cheung.

Christopher David Menaul (25), of Barra Street, Antrim; and Gary Thompson (32), of Cunningham Way, Antrim, are also charged with the murder of Nelson Cheung.

Mr Smyth said that a forensic investigation on a Seat Toledo involved in the murder suggests that Correia was not in the car “from which the killer is likely to have emerged”.

Mr Smyth said, however, that he had been made aware by police of traces of Mrs Cheung’s blood having been found on a pair of boots belonging to Correia, which had forced him to postpone a planned bail application on behalf of his client.

“Information should not be coming out at the last minute,” he added.

A PSNI detective sergeant told the court: “Enquiries are at an advanced stage and a file has been delivered to the PPS at the start of the month.”

The officer said the car had been “stripped” as part of a forensic investigation which has now been completed, although the findings have not yet been revealed.

Mr Smyth stated, however, that the initial findings of the report “appear to be pointing at distancing Correia” from the vehicle.

District Judge Des Perry urged police to “prioritise” the forensic report, stating: “There are occasions where a court is driven to grant bail, where it would normally be refused, because of undue delay.

“The court has got to be satisfied matters are being pushed forward,” the judge added.

Correia was remanded in custody to appear again via videolink on June 11.