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Man accused of murdering Chinese restaurant owner in knife frenzy refused bail

By John Cassidy

Published 23/04/2016

Nelson Cheung
Nelson Cheung

The owner of a Co Antrim Chinese restaurant was "stabbed with such force that the knife went through his body and out his back," a court has heard.

Details of the fatal attack on Nelson Cheung (65) emerged during an unsuccessful compassionate bail application by Portuguese national Virgilio Augusto Fernando Correia.

Correia (34), of Grant Avenue, Randalstown, is in custody accused of murdering Mr Cheung just over a year ago, wounding his 58-year-old wife Winnie and robbing her of cash.

Michael Chambers, prosecuting, told Belfast Crown Court the bail application was "unusual" as the defendant was seeking to be released on compassionate terms to attend the "christening of his one-and-a-half year-old daughter".

"It is unusual for a child of 18 months to be christened,'' he told Mr Justice Treacy.

Outlining the facts of the case, the lawyer said the couple were returning home after locking up their Chinese restaurant in Randalstown on the night of January 7, 2015.

"Winnie Cheung was driving the car and her husband Nelson was a front-seat passenger.

Mrs Nelson noticed that a vehicle appeared to be following them. She believed they had been followed the previous night.

"Their car was then rammed and two male occupants got out of the car. Mr Cheung got out of his car and it was at that stage one of the two males proceeded to stab him 18 times in the chest.

"Such was the force of the attack that one of the stab wounds went straight through his body and out his back," he said.

Mr Justice Treacy heard that Winnie Cheung sustained a stab wound to her hand and also an injury to her head. Her handbag was stolen which contained credit cards, an iPad, an iPhone and £200 in cash.

Mr Chambers said the car used to ram the Cheung's vehicle was a Seat Toledo which had been stolen earlier that evening.

One of Mrs Cheung's credit cards, the court was told, was later used to try and set up a PayPal account.

"Police were able to locate the IP address of the internet provider that was used to set up the address and traced it to an address at an apartment complex in Cunningham Way in Antrim.

"However, when the occupants of the house were spoken to they said that a female neighbour, Lisa Thompson, had access to their wifi around their house," the court heard.

Mr Chambers told the court that CCTV footage of the Cunnningham Way apartment complex showed three males getting out of a Volkswagen car - they were Correia and his two co-accused Gary Thompson and Christopher Menaul who are also charged with murder.

Police later seized the car which was owned by Correia and it was subject to forensic testing.

"They found Mrs Cheung's blood splattered all over the vehicle. A search was carried out of his home and a boot was found which had blood on the sole."

The prosecution said police believed Correia had carried out the robbery because he was in debt.

Mr Chambers added that there was a flight risk if Correia was granted bail and said there was a chapel in the prison which could carry out the christening of his daughter.

Refusing the bail application, Mr Justice Treacy said: "Given the nature of the charges against this defendant, it is not an appropriate case to grant bail."

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