Belfast Telegraph

Chinese takeaway owner slain by robbery gang in front of his wife

Three arrested - man and woman released unconditionally, second man remains in custody.

By Nevin Farrell

Friends and customers of a Chinese businessman stabbed to death in front of his wife have described him as "a perfect wee gentleman".

Nelson Cheung (65) and his wife Winnie Cheung were ambushed by robbers on a dark country road on their way home after a hard day's work at their takeaway business in Randalstown in Co Antrim.

The victim, who according to some reports had his throat slit, lived at The Rosses in Ballymena just a mile away from another murder victim - 42-year-old Brian McIlhagga, who was beaten and shot in Ballymoney earlier in he week in an unrelated incident.

The father-of-four was attacked as a gang forced his vehicle off the quiet Caddy Road between his business and his home.

Takings from his business, Double Value, where he and his wife (57) worked, were stolen by raiders who also injured Mrs Cheung.

She underwent surgery and was described as "stable" in hospital.

Despite her injuries she bravely raised the alarm at a nearby house, she returned to the scene shortly after midnight yesterday, her husband was dead.

A 31-year-old woman and a man aged 29 were arrested in the Randalstown area on Thursday but were released unconditionally on Friday evening.

Police would not confirm if two sealed-off locations in the town were connected to the murder probe.

A third person, a 30-year-old man, was arrested by detectives from Serious Crime Branch on Friday morning and remains in custody.

Detective Chief Inspector Eamonn Corrigan said: "Mr Cheung was a well-liked and well known man who ran a Chinese restaurant in Randalstown. He was a father-of-four and husband to Mrs Winnie Cheung, who was injured during the attack on the Caddy Road.

“Mrs Cheung has been released from hospital but is understandably anguished following the murder of her husband.

“My thoughts and the thoughts of my investigative team are with the Cheung family. We have made three arrests in connection with this murder and our investigation continues.

" If anyone can assist the investigation please call the serious incident room at Ballymena station on the non-emergency number 101. Or, you can call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

Flowers were left at the closed shutters of the takeaway yesterday afternoon by shocked customers who said Mr Cheung was a well-known character who had been in business there for more than 10 years.

The shockwaves from the murder reverberated through the close-knit Chinese community in Ballymena, where Douglas Shek (69) paid tribute to his family friend.

"At Christmas he used to give me presents. I know him well. He always respected my family.

"This is very sad and we are all concerned about what has happened, we are so shocked.

"Nelson worked hard but was very quiet and didn't seem to socialise much."

Ivy Goddard, project director at Ballymena Inter-Ethnic Forum, said: "We are deeply saddened by what has happened and totally shocked. Our thoughts are with the family. It is awful that something should happen to such a well-liked personality."

Near the murder scene, Zoe Price (34) said: "This is a very quiet area and we're shocked and saddened."

In Randalstown town centre Ashley Fullerton (25), who works near Double Value, said she regularly met the Cheungs coming and going and said: "They both were lovely. We share a car park and I would have been talking to him when we were both getting into our cars."

Michael McKay, secretary of Randalstown Chamber of Trade, said everyone was "shocked and horrified". Publican Roy Picken (64) said: "Nelson was one of the nicest men you could meet, a wee quiet man who worked hard and and I can't believe why anybody would rob him, it doesn't make sense. He would have helped anybody and was very popular."

PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Eamonn Corrigan said: "At around 12.10am this morning a 57-year-old woman ran for help to a house in the Caddy Road area of Randalstown. The householder made a 999 call to police.

"The woman had suffered wounds to her hands and head. When police arrived at the scene a short time later they discovered the body of her husband, a 65-year-old man.

"The couple had been driving along the Caddy Road having finished work at their business, a restaurant in Randalstown.

"I believe that their vehicle was forced off the road by two other vehicles and they were approached by a number of people.

"The couple were attacked and a sum of cash taken from them.

"The woman managed to leave the vicinity and raised the alarm at a nearby house. Tragically, the man died at the scene as a result of stab wounds.

"Police have arrested two people in connection with this murder and robbery, a woman aged 31 and a man aged 29.

"Both are being questioned by detectives at present and there is no suspicion of a hate motivation.

"I would appeal for information from the public, specifically anyone who saw vehicles moving along Caddy Road between 11.30pm on Wednesday night and 1am on Thursday morning.

"I am also interested in speaking with anyone who may have noticed a black Seat Toledo car, registration number OE62 FRF, in the Randalstown area from around 9pm to midnight on Wednesday, 7 January.

"Anyone with information can contact detectives at a special incident room in Ballymena PSNI station on the non-emergency number 101 or via the independent charity Crimestoppers."

Further Reading

Randalstown murder: Couple rammed off the road and man stabbed to death - two arrested

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