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Guilty in UK Chinese murders

A restaurant worker was found guilty yesterday of murdering a Chinese graduate couple in Newcastle, England, last year for their part in an Internet betting scam.

Cao Guanghui, 31, killed Zhou Xi and Yang Zhenxing, both age 25, at their flat in August 2008.

Zhou was found lying face down on her bed. Cao had bound her wrists with tape and then hit her over the head with a heavy weapon, possibly a hammer, the Newcastle Crown Court heard.

A piece of towel was stuffed into her mouth, which had been taped shut, and she suffocated around 90 minutes after the ordeal began, the Press Association reported.

Yang was discovered in the other bedroom. He had been hit with a hammer in the face and head, and his throat had been slashed. The court heard that the couple could have been killed for their part in a lucrative Internet betting operation in which 233,000 pounds (US$361,000) passed through their bank accounts in three years.

As the jury foreman returned two unanimous guilty verdicts, there were gasps and shouts of "Yes" from the packed public gallery.

When prosecutors told the judge that the Crown would be seeking a life sentence, Cao collapsed in the dock.

Yang was involved in sending information from live football matches to Chinese gamblers who benefited from a TV time delay of several seconds, allowing them to bet on events already knowing the outcome. He also supplied fake education certificates and other documents to Chinese students.

Cao, a resident of Morpeth, Northumberland, pretended he wanted to sub-let a room in their flat in order to make contact with the popular couple before killing them, the court heard.

Cao claimed he had been blackmailed into unwittingly helping to set up the couple's deaths after threats were made to his family in China. He said he was in the flat when they were killed, but was tied up and locked in the bathroom.

He said that masked gunmen had burst into the house and killed Yang because he made someone "unhappy" with his behavior.


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