Five cleared of Triad plot to kill businessman: David Connett reports on the first British court case in which a member of a Chinese criminal society gave evidence

FIVE men accused of plotting to shoot a Hong Kong businessman during an alleged Triad power struggle were cleared at the Old Bailey yesterday. A sixth man may face a retrial after the jury, unable to reach a verdict, was discharged.

The five, alleged to be members of the Sui Fong Chinese organised crime gang, were accused by a Triad 'supergrass' of conspiring to cause grievous bodily harm to Ying Kit Lam, a businessman, in Chinatown, London, in September last year. Mr Lam was crippled after being shot four times.

It was the first time a self-confessed member of a Triad gang had broken his oath of allegiance to the secret society and given evidence in a British court.

Jason Shui Cheung Wan, 31, of Holloway, north London; Tak Kam Chow, 41, of Southgate, north London; David Chong Chi Chan, 25, of Highfields, near Sheffield; Danny Wai Yuen Liu, 31, of Southampton; and Wai Wan Ho, 42, of Maida Vale, north-west London, were all found not guilty. A sixth man, Clifford Wai Ming Tang, 37, of Astley, Wigan, pleaded not guilty to the conspiracy charge but the jury could not agree on a verdict.

Wan and Tang were found guilty of conspiring to pervert the course of justice. Both men were accused of visiting George Wai Hen Cheung, a supergrass, in prison and threatening to harm him if he gave evidence against them.

Cheung, 28, has already admitted shooting Mr Lam, who was allegedly attempting to take control of the Sui Fong gang - also known as the Wo On Lok Triads - in Britain. Cheung claimed he was ordered to cripple Mr Lam as a 'warning to others'. Cheung has also admitted other offences including extortion, racketeering, violence and drug trafficking and is awaiting sentencing.

The court was told that one of the offences included slashing a man's face with a double-bladed Stanley knife. He claimed he had committed all the crimes 'under instructions'.

During the trial, Cheung described a ritual Triad initiation ceremony in the basement of a Chinese restaurant in Fulham, west London, where he took an oath never to betray his Triad brothers. Betrayal meant death.

Defence barristers suggested that Cheung accused his enemies while protecting his real Triad accomplices. Jonathan Goldberg, QC, for Tang, said Cheung was a bodyguard who had carried out several acts of violence for his Triad boss. He accused Cheung of framing innocent men to protect his bosses and get a reduced sentence for helping the police.

Cheung, Tang and Wan will be sentenced at a later date.