Gang 'murdered Chinese couple in plot to grab takeaway shop'

A CHINESE couple were abducted and brutally murdered as part of a plot to get hold of their takeaway business, a jury has heard.

The bodies of Jin Xue and his wife Li Xie were found by police last July in suitcases in the boot of a car more than two days after they were last seen alive.

Tom Bayliss, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court yesterday that before the discovery, one of the gang involved had already turned up at the couple's Timboo Chinese Takeaway in Fairfield Road, Bramley, claiming to be the new owner.

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Liang Zhang showed staff and friends of the couple a contract for the sale, claiming he had paid 65,000 to Mr Xue for the business.

Mr Bayliss said Mr Xue and his wife were in the UK illegally and it was likely Zhang and his accomplices, Lu Yao Jia and Ji Peng, thought because of their status the UK authorities would have no interest in their disappearance, enabling them to take over the business.

But they underestimated the reaction of family and friends who did not accept the account given and reported their concerns to the police.

Mr Bayliss told the jury their persistence in contacting police and tracing Jia and Peng to their home address in Kensington Way, Belle Isle, Leeds, must have panicked the killers.

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Zhang fled the country, flying back to China, and, Mr Bayliss said, when police arrived at the address in Belle Isle and asked the pair about the missing couple, Peng told them they were in the boot of his Mondeo parked nearby.

A police sergeant then made the gruesome discovery of both bodies hidden in suitcases.

Jia, 20, and Peng, 25, both deny the murders of Jin Xue, 38, and his wife Li Xie, 35, between July 23 to 28 last year.

Peng has admitted kidnapping the couple ,which Jia has denied.

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Mr Bayliss said Zhang, of Archery Terrace, Leeds, is wanted by police but is believed to still be in China.

He told the jury Mr Xue had also previously had a share in another business, the Wonderful Chinese takeaway in Barnsley, but in October 2008 had sold that share to Jia.

In 2009 Zhang began negotiations with Mr Xue and his wife to purchase the Timboo takeaway.

Mr Bayliss said when Peng was interviewed by police he said Zhang was acting as a frontman for the transaction although both Zhang and Jia intended to buy it.

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It was believed that was being done because Mr Xue and his wife did not trust Jia, after he only paid part of the agreed price for the Barnsley premises.

He told the jury students living in a house in Holborn Grove, Leeds, agreed to let Peng, Jia and Zhang use the premises for a business meeting on July 24 but that was actually just part of their ploy to enable them to "subdue and abduct" their two victims.

Mr Xue and his wife left their takeaway at 3pm and Peng accepted he picked them up and took them to the address at Holborn Grove.

It was there they were attacked, bound and gagged and Mr Xue at least was bleeding, before the couple were taken in two suitcases to Kensington Way.

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Mr Bayliss said Zhang got one of the students at Holborn Grove to print out a sales contract for the takeaway.

Mr Xue's hands were bound in such a way as to allow access to his thumb which bore a red substance. He had black duct tape wrapped round his eyes and mouth, his legs were bound and his wrists were tied behind him. He was stabbed in the neck.

His wife also had tape covering her eyes and mouth, her hands were tied with white cord and black tape and her feet were bound at the ankles .

A pathologist was unable to determine the cause of her death.

The trial continues.

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