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Chinese takeaway chef 'tried to kill' colleague in row over chicken

Cleaver embedded in victim's skull, jury told

John Garvey

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John Garvey

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42-2013A Szechuan Inn

DUELLING chefs at a Chinese takeaway hacked at each other with meat cleavers, a jury heard. 

The bloody fracas left the head chef at the Szechuan Express in Thatcham High Street with a cleaver embedded in his skull. 

His colleague appeared in the dock at Reading Crown Court charged with attempted murder.

Alan Gardner, opening the prosecution case on Monday, said the “adrenaline fuelled, frenzied attack” was sparked by a row over marinating a chicken. 

The pair – defendant Qiang Gao and his former boss, Kok Yuan Woon - twice had to be separated by co-workers after going face-to-face with each other, before they took their argument outside, the court heard.

Jurors were told that victim Mr Woon initially swung a meat cleaver at Mr Gao before heading back into the takeaway's kitchen.

Thirty-nine-year-old Mr Gao, of Acorn Close, Thatcham, then retaliated, smashing Mr Woon twice over the head and shoulder and inflicting a series of horrific injuries, the court heard. 

Mr Gardner said: "Mr Gao struck Mr Woon at least twice to the head with the meat cleaver…with enough force to fracture Mr Woon's skull. 

Jurors heard Mr Woon suffered a three inch wound to his forehead and a two inch cut to the back of the head - both of which penetrated the skull. 

He also had a four inch cut to his upper arm that cut through the muscle and a one inch cut to a finger, said Mr Gardner. 

He added: "The fact one of the wounds is to the back of the head contradicts any notion of self-defence. 

"He hit him with enough force to fracture the skull. The only sensible conclusion from that is, when Mr Gao struck Mr Woon in that way, his intention was to kill Mr Woon." 

The incident happened in the kitchen of the Szechuan Express at around 12pm on May 28 when the two men started arguing.

Mr Gardner told the court: "This appears to have been triggered by some sort of disagreement between them about the preparation of chicken in the kitchen. 

"Some of the witnesses' evidence you will hear suggests Mr Woon, the head chef, appeared to be firing Mr Gao, telling him his job was finished there, whereas other witnesses had the impression he chose to leave his job himself. 

"Either way, it seems Mr Gao was demanding that his wages be paid before he left work that day. 

"Mr Gao had his face very close to Mr Woon's. At one point, Mr Woon will say, Mr Gao raised his hand, which Mr Woon felt threatened by." 

Mr Gao stormed out of the kitchen towards a rear courtyard while Mr Woon continued with his work. At some point Mr Woon went out the back to put some food into a chiller, and the argument flared up again, Mr Gardner said. 

He added: "Mr Woon's account is within a few seconds of that incident taking place, he felt something hit his face. He didn't see Mr Gao hit him and didn't see what object was used, but he recalls falling backwards." 

Mr Woon then picked up a chair to protect himself before falling into a semi conscious state through blood loss prior to paramedics rushing to the scene, the court heard. 

Mr Gao denies attempted murder and wounding with intent and the trial continues. 

For the full story plus updates, grab a copy of this week’s Newbury Weekly News on Thursday.

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