Chinese pair die after 'gruesome' attack in flat

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The Independent Online

Two Chinese students appear to have been beaten to death in a "gruesome" double murder at their flat in Newcastle, it was revealed yesterday. Police had found the man and woman, both Chinese nationals, on beds in separate rooms of the downstairs flat in the city's West End on Saturday afternoon.

Post mortem examinations by a Home Office pathologist revealed the man had suffered "massive" head injuries. The woman also had head injuries but may have been asphyxiated. A conclusive cause of death will have to await further tests, a spokesman for Northumbria Police said.

The bodies were removed from the flat on Saturday night with a source describing the crime scene as "gruesome". The students' identities were not released as relatives had not yet been informed of their deaths.

Forensic science experts wearing white protective suits were searching the two-bedroom flat in Croydon Road yesterday, while uniformed colleagues carried out house-to-house inquiries.

A silver hatchback car has been taken from the scene for further tests.

Detective Superintendent Steve Wade, a senior murder investigator, was at the scene talking to officers and appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

Sheik Asadujjaman, 23, a student living two doors from the flat, said the murdered male student was aged about 30. He had seen him only once, driving a red sports car, around a month ago.

Croydon Road, which was cordoned off yesterday, is in the heart of a multi-cultural area of terraced streets. The neighbourhood is popular with students as it is near Newcastle University, but some Chinese students reported being attacked and questioned whether it was a safe place to live.

Ishaopeng Wu, 31, said he had been attacked by youths in the past. The mobile communications student, who is a member of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, said: "I am very shocked, I cannot see if we should live in this area any more.

"It is a tough area, but convenient for the university.

"I cannot believe this has happened."

Mr Wu, who has lived in the West End for four years and attends Newcastle University, said: "As Chinese students, we do not have any affairs with other people. We are far away from home and we live in a strange area. I want to know why this happened.

"Sometimes local children attack us. I don't know whether it is because we come from another country."

He pedalled to the crime scene after hearing about the murders and wanted to get more information for his fellow students.

By coincidence, the flat is a couple of doors away from the former home of a murdered schoolboy.

Wesley Neailey was 11 when he was murdered in 1998 by Dominic McKilligan, a student who had recently been released from a young offender institution after a previous conviction for gross indecent assault against four boys in his home town of Bournemouth.

Neailey went out riding his bike from his home in Croydon Road and was found weeks later in the Northumberland countryside. McKilligan was jailed for life in 1999.

Wesley's relatives still live in the Croydon Road area. Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: "This is a nice place to live and we have been here for 15 years but seeing all the police activity has brought back memories of Wesley."

Police were expected to reveal more details of the murder of the two Chinese students at a press conference in Newcastle today.