Nelson Cheung murder accused gets all-clear for legal challenge

Businessman Nelson Cheung was stabbed to death in January
Businessman Nelson Cheung was stabbed to death in January

A man in jail charged with murder has cleared the first stage in a High Court challenge to prison authorities allegedly opening and reading a letter to his solicitor.

Christopher Menaul was granted leave to seek a judicial review amid claims that it breached his right to privileged legal communication.

The 26-year-old, from Barra Street in Antrim, is currently on remand at HMP Maghaberry accused of murdering Chinese businessman Nelson Cheung.

Mr Cheung, 65, was stabbed to death in January.

Robbers attacked him after forcing his car off the Caddy Road, on the outskirts of Randalstown.

His wife Winnie, 57, also suffered serious knife wounds before her personal belongings were stolen.

The couple had been heading home to Ballymena after closing their business for the night when their vehicle was ambushed by two cars.

Menaul is one of three men charged with the killing.

He launched a legal action after a letter containing instructions to his solicitor was allegedly opened and read earlier this year.

Proceedings were issued against the Prison Service, the PSNI and the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

Counsel for Menaul argued that the move flouted his privacy rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

In papers submitted as part of the case Andrew Moriarty contended: “The action of opening the envelope represented a clear breach of the sacrosanct principle of legal professional privilege.

“It had no proper basis or justification, or at least none that has been provided, there were no safeguards in place and it thereby contravened the right to privacy now afforded under Article 8 ECHR.”

In court on Wednesday judges were told the letter was seized from another prisoner.

Although the exact factual circumstances remain unclear, they held there were issues requiring further investigation.

Menaul was granted leave to apply for a judicial review against the Prison Service.

However, the judges refused to let him continue his case against the police or PPS, describing it as “collateral litigation”.

A full hearing of the remaining legal challenge will take place sometime after Easter next year.

It was stressed in court that the proceedings will not hold up any criminal trial involving Menaul.