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Two men jailed for Nelson Cheung murder

Police forensic experts examine a car involved in the murder of Nelson Cheung

TWO "drug-addled, parasitic assailants" have been jailed for a total of 25 years for the murder of Chinese businessman Nelson Cheung.

Wing Fu Cheung, known as Nelson, was stabbed 18 times during a robbery in January 2015.

Portuguese national Virgilio Correia (35) of Grant Avenue in Randalstown, will serve at least 16 years in prison for the murder.

Christopher Menaul (28) from Barra Street in Belfast, will serve at least nine years in jail.

Sentencing the pair at Belfast Crown Court for murdering Mr Cheung and attacking and robbing his wife Winnie, Mr Justice Treacy said the lives of "two honest, hard-working people were totally destroyed by the actions of drug-addled, parasitic assailants who were motivated by the need to feed their drugs habits".

Mr and Mrs Cheung had just closed their takeaway restaurant on Randalstown's Main Street in the early hours of January 8 2015 and were making their way home to Ballymena where their Jeep was rammed by Menaul and Correia.

After 64-year old Mr Cheung went to speak to the driver, he was pulled away by Correia who after demanding money, stabbed the "slight" pensioner 18 times. Mrs Cheung was dragged from her car by the hair, sustained serious wounds to her head and hand, and also had her handbag stolen.

After the attackers fled, Mrs Cheung was found by the emergency services, covered in blood and cradling her fatally wounded husband.

Mr Justice Treacy said: "This pitiful scene at the side of a country road still haunts the Cheung family to this day. It is an image they will never put behind them."

The judge also revealed that a question still haunts Mrs Cheung - and she asks "why were they so cruel to a stranger who was so powerless to resist?"

He added that Correia's decision to take a knife to the scene had "a catastrophic effect" and led to an "orgy of deadly violence".

The court heard that both Correia and Menaul were addicted to drugs, and that their motivation was to rob the Cheungs to pay off drugs debts to paramilitaries.

Also appearing beside the two killers were husband and wife Gary and Lisa Thompson, who were sentenced for the roles they played in the aftermath.

The couple Felden Avenue in Newtownabbey admitted assisting offenders by allowing Correia and Menaul to take refuge in their home, as well as letting them clean themselves and remove clothing.

They also pleaded guilty to a charge of perverting the course of justice.

Gary Thompson was handed a sentence of seven years - half of which will be spent in prison while Lisa was given a two year sentence, suspended for two years.

Mr Justice Treacy said nothing would fill the void left by Mr Cheung's absence.

"Mrs Cheung lost her life partner of 32 years, a man who helped and supported her in every way," he said.

He added that the businessman's death derived his daughter of a father who should have walked her down the aisle on her wedding day, and deprived his grandchildren of a "loving and wise elder".

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Eamonn Corrigan, from PSNI's Serious Crime Branch, said all four involved had "contributed to destroying the life of this hardworking couple".

"The motivation behind this horrendous crime was to pay off drugs debts," he said.

"Nelson died as a result and Winnie's life has been destroyed - she left Northern Ireland to return to family in Hong Kong within days of her husband's murder. She can no longer work due to her injury and also suffers from post-traumatic stress."

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