Interpreter mix-up postpones Chinese murderer’s appeal
Published 18/11/2009 | 04:40
A Chinese man's appeal against his jail term for murdering a pregnant waitress in Belfast has been postponed due to an interpretation mix-up.
Siu Ching Wong was set to challenge the minimum 18-year prison sentence imposed for strangling to death Mi Yi Ho in June 1998.
The 45-year-old has already failed in a bid to overturn his conviction for killing the victim at her home in the east of the city.
But a new hearing was adjourned after his lawyer revealed potential problems with the interpreter assigned to the case.
Although Wong speaks Cantonese, the interpreter’s main language is Mandarin, the Court of Appeal was told.
Defence barrister Gavan Duffy said: “At the time she was asked to provide the service she wasn't asked what her particular language was.”
A three-judge panel due to hear the case ruled it could not proceed because of the uncertainty.
Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said: “How are we to know if the appellant has picked up on important aspects of this appeal?”
He directed that a Cantonese interpreter should be provided for Wong when his appeal is now heard later this month.
Mi Yi Ho, also called Candy, was attacked at her Isoline Street home on her 29th birthday.
At the time of her death she was 18 weeks pregnant and worked at a Chinese restaurant in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim.
Wong, who she knew from her native Hong Kong, was ordered to serve at least 18 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of her murder last year.
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.
In June the Court of Appeal rejected an argument that Wong was in Belfast city centre rather than the scene of the crime at the time a witness claimed to have seen someone in the victim's home.
Defence lawyers had claimed whoever was spotted in the upstairs bedroom had to be the killer or someone closely associated with the case.
But a senior Crown counsel insisted there was enough circumstantial evidence to connect Wong — who denied ever being in Isoline Street — with the murder.
Judges were told he had come straight to Northern Ireland in June 1998 and knew only two people there, the victim and her lover.