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.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy