Triads 'hit-man' tells of gang's initiation rites

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A Triads 'hit-man' yesterday revealed to the Old Bailey how he was recruited into a Chinese organised crime gang operating in Britain during a secret initiation ceremony held in the basement of a London restaurant.

Wai Hen Cheung - known as George - told the court how he and nine other men were taken to the basement of a restaurant in Fulham, west London, at 2am and told to strip to their underpants. Cheung said all the furniture in the room had been moved, apart from a table covered in red paper. On the table was a knife, wine and a piece of paper cut out in the shape of a man. There was also a red paper 'altar' taped to the wall. In front of the altar were nine or 10 sets of pieces of paper laid out in triangles and there were burning joss-sticks.

Cheung said the restaurant owner, Mr Lo Ng, conducted the ceremony in an ancient Chinese dialect. They were told to remove all jewellery and told how to kneel on the pieces of paper on the floor. They were also told to hold joss-sticks with four fingers of the left hand and five fingers of the right.

Cheung said he didn't understand the oaths at the time but repeated them anyway. He said he later understood they meant he was 'never to betray a brother, never to steal from a brother and never to commit adultery with a brother's wife'.

He said the gang, Sui Fong, was seen as a family and everyone in it was a brother. 'If we broke these oaths we would be punished severely. We could be crippled or we could be killed,' he said.

Cheung said the middle finger on his left hand was pricked with a pin and as it bled, was placed in a glass of wine while the teacher repeated certain words. 'I was told to put my finger in my mouth and he asked me how it tasted. I said it was sweet.' The ceremony made it clear he was never to inform on a brother. 'They said 'if one of your brothers was in trouble and the police seek him and are willing to pay for information, do you want money or your brothers?' I answered 'my brothers'. I then got slapped with the back of the flat blade of the knife.'

After this the teacher took the piece of paper cut like a man and said it was an informer, somebody who had betrayed his brothers and the penalty for this was death.

'He asked us what we would do and everyone said 'death'. He said 'louder' and we all shouted 'death'. He took the knife and hacked the piece of paper to pieces,' Cheung said.

Later Cheung said he was taught secret hand signals to indicate to other Triads he was a member. He said he didn't know what the word Triad meant.

Cheung said he first became involved with Sui Fong in March 1990 after being threatened by a rival gang member. He said an ex- boyfriend of his flatmate's girlfriend was jealous of her new relationship and paid a Triads member to harm Cheung and his flatmate. Scared, Cheung, on advice from his uncle, sought help from Sui Fong and was put in touch with Jason Wan.

A meeting was arranged in a Gerrard Street gambling den in Chinatown, central London, run by the gang. Cheung said he was introduced to a man called Fei Yan or Flying Man, who he later came to know as Clifford Wai Ming Tang.

Cheung said that after explaining their problem Mr Tang said it was not serious and he could sort it out if they joined Sui Fong and called him tai lo or big brother.

'I understood this meant we would have to be loyal to him and do what he asked of us. In return he would look after us,' Cheung said.

Cheung admitted at an earlier hearing shooting Hong Kong businessman Ying Kit Lam, 31. The prosecution alleges Mr Lam, also known as Ma Kau, was shot because he was involved in an attempt to take over the leadership of Sui Fong. The attack was to punish him and deter others.

The court heard how Cheung was told to join a gun club in Chingford, Essex, to learn how to handle weapons. He also described how they flew him to Guernsey to work in a take-away restaurant so that he would not be recognised by Ying Kit Lam or his men.

Six men are accused of planning the attack with Cheung. Clifford Wai Ming Tang, 36, of Astley, Manchester; 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, London, all deny conspiracy to inflict greivous bodily harm.

Mr Tang and Mr Wan also deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Mr Tang also denies possessing a weapon with intent to commit an offence.

The case continues.

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