Three men remanded in custody over murder of Antrim restaurateur

Nelson Cheung (65) died after he was stabbed 17 times on way home, court told

Three men, formally charged with the murder of Chinese restaurant owner Nelson Cheung, stabbed 17 times, were remanded in custody today by Ballymena Magistrates Court.

The men were remanded, along with the wife of one of them, on charges arising out of the murderous robbery attack on 65-year-old owner of the Double Value Chinese restaurant in Randalstown, Co Antrim, and the attempted murder of his 57-year-old wife, Winnie.

They are Portuguese national Virgilio Agusto Fernando Corria (33) of Grant Avenue, Randalstown, Gary William Thompson (32) an engineer of Cunningham Way, Co Antrim and Christopher David Menaul (25),unemployed of Barra Street, Antrim.

They deny the murder of the Chinese businessman, attempting to murder Mrs Cheung, the attempted robbery of Mr Cheung and the robbery of a handbag, ipad, iphone, £200 in cash and Ulster Bank and American Express cards.


Mr Menaul is also accused of burglary at a house on the Magheralane Road between January 6th and January 9th last.

Appearing in court with them was Mr Thompson's 32-year-old wife Lisa Thompson, a care assistant also of Cunningham Way, Antrim, accused of handling stolen goods and perverting the course of justice.

A detective inspector told District Judge Joe Rice he believed he could connect the accused with the offences.

Detective Inspector John Caldwell told the court, where the four accused spoke only to confirm they understood the charges against them, that on January 7th, Mr Cheung and his wife finished work at their Chinese restaurant.

They were travelling home along the Caddy Road in their Kia Jeep when they felt they were being followed. Mrs Cheung slowed down and pulled in and then a Seat Toledo collided with them bringing the car to a stop.

Mr Caldwell said people got out of the car and approached the Cheungs’ vehicle, before pulling open the Jeep door and shouting “give us the money.”

The court was told that while Mr Cheung was stabbed 17 times, his wife Mrs Cheung was verbally abused and grabbed by the hair and was stabbed on her hands which cut an artery causing bleeding.

However, she managed to break free and ran to a nearby house for help, before returning to the car , the court heard.

Mr Caldwelll also said a CCTV investigation is in the process of being conducted, and that a forensic analysis was being carried out on a silver Golf also involved in the incident and Mrs Cheung’s blood had been found on the hand brake.

Defence Neil Moore, for Ms Thompson, unsuccessfully applied for bail for the mother of two. Mr Moore had claimed the likelihood of her absconding is nil because she has ties in the Antrim area.

Mr Moore asked Mr Caldwell: “In relation to Lisa can you confirm that Gary was subject to bail conditions that didn’t allow him into the family home.”

The officer replied: “Yes, Lisa denied he was in Cunningham Way.”

Mr Moore said told the court that Lisa had told a lie as she did not want to get her husband to get into trouble for breaking bail conditions, and the iphone she is accused of handling was just found in her house and that is the only reason she handled it.

However, the prosecution opposed the application on the grounds that she could interfere with witnesses, abscond and obstruct the course of the investigation.

A lawyer for Mr Menaul, who did not make an application for bail, said his client was present in the Golf vehicle where Mrs Cheung’s blood was found but he did not have a knife.

In relation to the burglary charge, he added a key for a Seat vehicle was taken, and this was the vehicle used to stop the Cheungs’ car on the Caddy Road.

Dealing with Mr Corria, his lawyer said there would also be no bail application and his client claimed he was acting under duress and he is under threat.

In relation to Gary Thompson, his lawyer, asked Inspector Caldwell: “Isn’t it true my client made multiple denials and that police can’t place him at the scene of the murder? The case is limited and circumstantial.”

However, Mr Rice said Mr Caldwell could not be expected to answer on behalf of the Public Prosecution Service.

Mr Rice said the case was a “complex and difficult investigation. This was designed to put terror and fear into the business and Chinese community in the Randalstown area and under no circumstances must that ever be allowed to succeed.”

All four accused are to appear again before Antrim Crown Court via video link on February 10th next.

In a separate development earlier today, police said a 16-year-old female and a 14-year-old male arrested by detectives in connection with the crime, had been released pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.