News & Current Affairs

August 17, 2008

Murdered man ‘conned’ university

Murdered man ‘conned’ university

Xi Zhou and her boyfriend Zhen Xing Yang

Xi Zhou and her boyfriend Zhen Xing Yang studied at Newcastle University

A Chinese student who was tortured and murdered along with his girlfriend may have lied about his qualifications to get into university, police have said.

Zhen Xing Yang and girlfriend Xi Zhou died after a “frenzied” knife attack at a flat in Newcastle’s West End.

Police believe the pair, both 25, were involved in a betting scam, which may have been a motive for their murders.

Officers are now investigating whether Mr Zhen forged documents to enroll on a masters course at Newcastle University.

Police are in telephone contact with the couple’s families and are trying to speed up Visa applications so they can come to the UK.

Police said Mr Zhen dropped out of a Cardiff University undergraduate degree course in 2005.

A university spokesperson said: “Cardiff University can confirm that Zhen Xing Yang, born 1 February, 1983, attended Cardiff Business School from 2004-5.

He may have gained entry to his MA degree course at Newcastle University as a result of producing fraudulent documentation
Det Supt Steve Wade

“Mr Yang did not continue with his course and left without an award.”

Mr Zhen then gained a place on a postgraduate course at Newcastle University, gaining a masters degree in 2006.

Det Supt Steve Wade, leading the investigation, said: “We can confirm new evidence has been provided about Zhen Xing Yang.

“It suggests he may have gained entry to his MA degree course at Newcastle University as a result of producing fraudulent documentation stating he had successfully completed an undergraduate degree.

“Officers are continuing to work with Newcastle University to establish if this information is correct.

“Community intelligence supported by the examination of computer equipment and mobile call data has shown that both of the victims have been involved in fraudulent activity which has angered and upset a number of people.”

Murder scene

The bodies were discovered in a ground floor flat

One line of inquiry into the murders is that Mr Zhen recruited spectators online to send live updates from UK football matches as part of a betting scam.

It is claimed syndicates in China, where matches are televised a minute behind, could take advantage of this.

The couple were found dead in separate bedrooms at the downstairs flat by friends.

Police said Mr Zhen was assaulted for more than an hour before being stabbed.

Examinations also showed Miss Xi may have been asphyxiated as well as stabbed during the attack.

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August 14, 2008

Murdered couple in ‘scam’ probe

Murdered couple in ‘scam’ probe

Xi Zhou and her boyfriend Zhen Xing Yang

Xi Zhou and her boyfriend Zhen Xing Yang studied at Newcastle University

A Chinese couple murdered in Newcastle may have been involved in a range of internet scams, including betting and providing false visas, police said.

Zhen Xing Yang and girlfriend Xi Zhou died after a “frenzied” knife attack at a flat in Newcastle’s West End.

Detectives revealed information on a seized computer and three mobile phones showed the pair may also have arranged forged professional qualifications.

The 25-year-old Newcastle University graduates, were found dead on 9 August.

Det Supt Steve Wade, leading the murder investigation, said: “A possible motive for the killings is beginning to emerge concerning the lifestyle of Xi Zhou and Zhen Xing Yang.

“Community intelligence supported by the examination of computer equipment and mobile call data has shown that both of the victims have been involved in fraudulent activity which has angered and upset a number of people.

Televised matches

“We are currently investigating this as a possible motive for the killings.”

One line of inquiry involves claims Mr Zhen recruited spectators online to send live updates from UK football matches.

It is claimed syndicates in China, where matches are televised a minute behind, could take advantage of this.

Information passed to Northumbria Police includes details of adverts placed on UK-based Mandarin-language websites, recruiting people to watch football matches around the world.

One reads: “It is a very simple job, any student who is interested, please contact Zhen Xing Yang.”

An ad posted under the name CICI-UK, his girlfriend’s nickname, on the powerapple website last October, reads: “Work: Watch football games and send live information to people.

“Requirement: Basic understanding of football rules, no professional background needed, advantage if you have a car.

“Location: Sheffield, London, Blackpool, Portsmouth, York, Hull and many other places.”

Similar adverts requested live information from the Mexican League.

CCTV of Xi Zhou in street

Xi Zhou was caught on CCTV travelling home from work

The couple were found dead in separate bedrooms at the downstairs flat by friends on the afternoon on 9 August.

Police said Mr Zhen was “assaulted for more than an hour” before being stabbed. They believe passers-by may have heard his screams.

A post-mortem examination revealed he suffered extensive bruising to his arms before he died.

Examinations also showed Miss Xi may have been asphyxiated as well as stabbed during the attack.

The body of a cat, which had been drowned and hidden in a washing bowl underneath the bathroom sink, was probably killed by the couple’s murderer, said police.

An offender profiler has been brought in to help establish a motive for the killings.

Police have also released CCTV images taken as Miss Xi traveled home from work at the Wagamama restaurant in Newcastle last Thursday afternoon.

Police have not been able to find any occupation for Mr Zhen since he completed his degree in September 2006.

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “We continue to look into the lifestyle of both victims and internet websites form part of this investigation.

“We cannot comment further at this stage.”

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