Man went on €210k gambling spree "after killing and chopping up pal"

Manchester 235 Casino
Manchester 235 Casino

An "insatiable gambler" spent nearly £180,000 (€210k) in a casino days after murdering his wealthy friend and dumping his dismembered torso by the roadside, a court has heard.

Ming Jiang, 43, bought £178,000 in chips in the 235 Casino in Manchester in the two weeks after allegedly murdering Yang Liu, 36, the city's Minshull Street Crown Court was told.

The two men, both Chinese, were friends but while Mr Liu, who lived in a dockside apartment at Salford Quays, was "comfortably off" and could afford to gamble, the defendant was being chased by creditors.

Jiang had also racked up accumulated losses of £273,115 in two casinos in the city.

He decided to solve his money woes by murdering his friend and assuming his identity to get at his cash and the £185,000 flat he owned, it is alleged.

After the murder he dismembered the body, severing Mr Liu's head and limbs, probably in the bathroom of his own one-bedroom flat in Beswick, east Manchester.

He put the torso in a suitcase and set it on fire after dumping it in a remote lay-by on the roadside over the moors to Sheffield before returning to Manchester.

Jiang then used his victim's bank card to withdraw £800 to gamble at a casino in the city, the court heard.

The torso inside the burnt suitcase was found on October 10 last year by walkers just off the A628 road in Tintwistle, Derbyshire.

After his arrest on October 20 last year, Jiang claimed the two men were gay lovers and his friend was an escort paid to have sex with older Chinese men, the jury was told.

He also suggested "shadowy underworld figures" might be responsible after a dispute over gambling involving his friend.

But these "slurs" were merely an "elaborate smokescreen" to conceal his guilt, Peter Wright QC, told the jury as he opened the case for the prosecution.

"This was a murder done for gain," he said.

"It was as cold and as ruthless as it was calculated and quite deadly.

"We say the defendant lured his gambling friend to his flat and he killed him, then set about disposing of the body and concealing his involvement before gaining access to the dead man's goods and his property with a view to solving his own insatiable gambling habits and debt problems."

Jiang began to assume his victim's identity, using his credit and bank cards and taking his passport to begin making arrangements for a "quick sale" of Mr Liu's £185,000 flat.

Jiang had also shipped seven boxes of Mr Liu's possessions to an address in Shanghai.

He also got back from pawn brokers £16,000 worth of his own wrist watches he had used to raise cash before the murder.

But police were closing in after his Mercedes car was spotted on CCTV travelling to the lay-by.

He was arrested at a casino and found to have the dead man's phone and passport on him.

When officers searched his home they found an "extensive clean-up" had been done, with fresh painting of parts of the walls and the ceiling but this was only "partially successful", Mr Wright said.

Police also found extensive traces of Mr Liu's blood from DNA matches, in the kitchen, on a sofa and Jiang's palm print, in the victim's blood, on a box on a table.

Traces of the victim's DNA were also found in the bathroom, where the body was dismembered, the jury heard.

Mr Wright continued: "What better place to conduct such an exercise than in a bathroom?"

Jiang denies the murder between October 4 and 11 last year.

The trial was adjourned until Wednesday morning.