Supergrass who seemed more misfit than hitman

EVIDENCE from George Wai Hen Cheung, a Triad supergrass, would 'lift the veil of secrecy' and provide a 'unique picture' of the sinister, shadowy world of Triads, an Old Bailey court was told.

He was the first member of the Chinese organised crime gang whose 'menacing reach' extended into extortion, protection rackets, prostitution, illegal gambling, loan sharking and drug trafficking, to break sworn oaths of loyalty and give evidence in a British court. He would help break a Triad criminal empire ranging from the Channel Islands to Glasgow.

'Who better to tell you what happened than the man trusted by the Triads to pull the trigger? He broke the oath which is at the very heart of Triad activity. So strong is their loyalty and fear of retribution that few, if any, have ever before been prepared to assist the authorities,' Martin Heslop, for the prosecution, said.

But the jury had trouble believing him. A self-admitted assassin, Cheung, 28, cut a strange figure in the witness box. He did not fit the stereotype of a 'hitman'. He was 5ft 4ins with thick lenses - which earnt him the nickname 'Specky' - yet he had been described as a 'sadistic assassin' and a 'thug steeped in crime'.

As details of his background emerged Cheung seemed more misfit than hitman. He was born in Leicester, where his parents owned a take-away, but they had disowned him, and letters written from prison described his resentment of his brothers and sisters. 'All I want in life is some love and respect,' he said, but his only real companion was a dog.

His grasp of English was better than Cantonese, and his letters also reflected his isolation. 'All my life I have been stuck in between the English and the Chinese. The English treated me as Chinese. The Chinese treated me as English. I haven't much chance of recognition in England, getting an English job and getting on.'

The court heard Cheung's acne, personal habits and scruffy appearance meant he was unsuccessful with women and regularly used prostitutes. He admitted smoking cannabis, taking LSD and drinking heavily.

The jury was told that as a bodyguard to Ngau Kor, the Triad boss, he enjoyed status and respect. He carried out ruthless attacks on several people to order. He stalked one of his victims before slashing his face with a double-bladed knife, which left the man scarred.

Cheung claimed he was frightened and unable to back out of the attacks, some of which were carried out around Britain, but he admitted his efforts won him 'recognition' from his bosses.

As evidence pointed to him as the man who shot Ying Kit Lam, a Hong Kong businessman in London's Chinatown, Cheung took the decision he must live with for the rest of his life. Knowing the penalty for informing on 'brother' Triads was death, he approached detectives for a deal.

Mr Heslop summed up Cheung's position: 'He will probably never have any hiding place. He is going to be on the outside for the rest of his life and will always be looking over his shoulder expecting a bullet. As an outcast he can never return to the Chinese community.'

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little