Body-in-suitcase trial: Gambler murdered friend to assume identity

Image source, Greater Manchester Police
Image caption, Ming Jiang (left) tried to assume fellow Chinese national Yang Liu's identity

An "insatiable gambler" has been found guilty of murdering his friend to claim his identity and clear huge debts.

Indebted Ming Jiang was being hounded by creditors when he killed his friend and fellow Chinese national Yang Liu.

He then dumped 36-year-old Mr Liu's dismembered body in a suitcase near a remote Derbyshire lay-by.

Jiang, 43, denied murder but a jury at Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court unanimously found him guilty earlier.

Image caption, Yang Liu's dismembered body was found dumped in a suitcase and set alight near a remote lay-by

He will be sentenced on 2 May.

The trial heard Jiang used Mr Liu's bank and credit cards to withdraw thousands of pounds in the two weeks after the killing, in October 2016.

Records from casinos in Manchester showed he had bought £178,000 worth of gambling chips and had racked up accumulated losses of £273,000.

He also reclaimed watches worth £16,000 from pawnbrokers, and tried to sell Mr Liu's £220,000 dockside apartment at Salford Quays.

Mr Liu was "comfortably off", while his friend Jiang was living in a one-bedroom flat in Beswick and struggling with debt, the court heard.

Jiang murdered Mr Liu probably in the bathroom of his house before cutting his victim's head and limbs off and putting the torso in a Samsonite suitcase, the prosecution said.

Image source, GMP
Image caption, Jiang contacted Mr Liu's family on social media and pretending to be his friend reassured them he was safe

The suitcase was then dumped and set alight, before being found by walkers near the A628 Woodhead Pass at Tintwistle on 10 October last year.

A subsequent police search of Jiang's home found evidence of an "extensive clean-up", using paint and cleaning products, police said.

But traces of the victim's blood were found on the ceiling, in the bath and on a settee.

Image source, GMP
Image caption, Killer Ming Jiang was filmed on CCTV at a petrol station in the days following the murder

Prosecutor Peter Wright, QC, said Mr Liu's head, lower arms and lower legs have never been found.

Following his arrest, Jiang was said to have used an "elaborate smokescreen" of "slurs" to conceal his guilt, including suggesting Mr Liu was a paid escort for older Chinese men.

Det Ch Insp Terry Crompton described the murder as a "wicked, wicked crime".

Image caption, Dety Ch Insp Terry Crompton said the murder clearly had an economic motive

"Jiang essentially adopted Mr Liu's identity. He was trying to sell his flat. He had a significant gambling habit and effectively, that was the motive behind this murder."

The detective said CCTV and text messages were crucial in catching Jiang.

Mr Liu's family said: "Our son was warm and full of life. He was also kind. Since birth, he always wore a smile on his face.

"When our son is mentioned, we cry with tears running down our faces. Our physical and mental sufferings can never ever be repaired."

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