Christopher David Menaul, originally with an address in Barra Street, Antrim, also pleaded guilty to wounding Mr Cheung’s 57-year-old wife, Kam-Fung Cheung, who was stabbed in the hand, and robbing her of a handbag, an iPad, iPhone, £200, an Ulster Bank card and an American Express card.
Defence QC Martin O’Rourke asked Belfast Crown Court for his client to be rearraigned on the three charges he had previously denied.
Following his guilty pleas, Mr O’Rouke also applied to Mr Justice Treacy to adjourn the tariff hearing on the life sentence which flowed from Menaul’s plea to murder.
Adjourning the hearing to determine the minimum term Menaul will have to serve, Mr Justice Treacy told him the law provided only one sentence for murder, life.
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Although no details surrounding the case were given, last April a court was told that on the night of January 7, 2015, Mr Cheung, also known as Nelson, and his wife, Winnie, were driving to their Ballymena home in their 4x4 after leaving their Chinese restaurant the ‘Double Value’ in Randalstown.
As they travelled along the Caddy Road their jeep was “rammed” by another vehicle.
A prosecution lawyer said that after Mr Cheung got out of the passenger seat he was confronted by two males and was stabbed up to 18 times.
It was also claimed that he was hit with such force, one stab wound “went straight through his body and out his back”.
The trial of three others, including a husband and wife, facing charges arising out of the attack, has been fixed to begin in the new year, and is now expected to last up to four weeks.
A 35-year-old Portuguese national, Virgilio Agusto Fernando Correia, originally with an address in Grant Avenue, Randalstown, is accused of Mr Cheung’s murder and the attack and robbery of his wife.
Also facing a charge of murder is an engineer, now living at a PSNI approved address, and whose wife is accused of a series of separate charges.
They are Gary and Lisa Thompson, both 34 and formally of Cunningham Way, Antrim. In addition to the murder charge, Gary Thompson is also accused of robbery, wounding, assisting offenders, handling stolen goods, and doing an act to pervert the course of public justice.
His care assistant wife Lisa, also living at an approved address, denies assisting offenders, handling stolen goods, and doing an act with intent to perverting the course of public justice.