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‘Hired killer’ fails in legal battle to cut jail sentence

A so-called Chinese contract killer must serve his minimum 18-year jail sentence for murdering a pregnant waitress in Belfast, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

But judges also directed that credit should be given for the time Wong Siu Ching spent behind bars in Hong Kong when determining his earliest release date.

The 45-year-old was convicted of strangling to death Candy Ho after being extradited to stand trial in Northern Ireland.

His victim was attacked at her Isoline Street home on her 29th birthday in June 1998.

At the time of her death she was 18 weeks’ pregnant and worked at a Chinese restaurant in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim.

Wong, whom she knew from her native Hong Kong, was jailed after a jury found him guilty of her murder in May 2008.

He was also said to have been a close friend of Mi Yi Ho's married lover, a restaurateur who was earlier acquitted of procuring the murder.

The trial judge said the attack bore all the hallmarks of a contract killing.

Wong failed in an earlier bid to overturn his murder conviction, with the Court of Appeal declaring no sense of unease about the verdict.

He then launched a separate challenge to the 18-year tariff imposed on him for the killing.

His lawyers argued that no personal motive has been established for him to carry out the murder.

They contested the aggravating features which led to the length of sentence and claimed there was insufficient evidence to be certain it had been a professional contract killing.

Crown representatives insisted, however, that sufficient retribution and deterrence were required in the case.

It was contended that the planning and pre-meditation involved in the killing backed the conclusion reached by the trial judge.

Ruling on the appeal, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, sitting with Lord Justices Higgins and Girvan, rejected submissions that leniency should be shown to Wong because he is serving his sentence in a foreign jurisdiction.

He said: “This man travelled to Northern Ireland for the purpose of carrying out a heinous crime. It would require the most compelling of circumstances to justify any reduction in the period appropriate for retribution and deterrence.”

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