Brockenhurst takeaway chef died after ‘blow to the head with a ladle’, inquest told

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Brockenhurst takeaway death
Police at the scene at China Chef in Brookley Road, Brockenhurst

A BROCKENHURST takeaway chef died from bleeding on the brain after a “scuffle” with the senior chef in which he was possibly struck on the head with a ladle, an inquest heard.

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Xiu Bin Wang (33) fought with Zhu Long Guo at the China Chef outlet they both worked at on Brookley Road after the pair had a “difference of opinion”, Winchester Coroner’s Court was told.

When the dispute was calmed down by restaurant owner Ying Dong – known as Monica – Mr Wang went to bed.

However, he was found the next morning unresponsive in bed and despite paramedics being called and CPR being performed he could not be saved.

But the inquest heard Mr Guo was “miming” to officers called to the scene to investigate that he had struck Mr Wang on the head with a kitchen ladle during their confrontation.

Brockenhurst takeaway murder
Chinese national Xiu Bin Wang died at China Chef in Brockenhurst in August 2018

A murder investigation was opened and police interviewed the takeaway staff. A file was submitted a file to the Crown Prosecution Service but it was decided not to bring a prosecution.

Mr Guo said Mr Wang was the aggressor in the fight and was claiming self-defence.

Pathologists could also not rule out the fatal injuries could have been caused some other way – such as if Mr Wang had walked into a wall and banged his head – and the timings were not clear, so cast doubt on when exactly Mr Wang suffered his injury.

The inquest heard staff at the China Chef finished their shifts late on 19th August last year and stayed at the premises for an arranged social engagement.

Staff from a Lyndhurst restaurant joined them and those present – including Mr Guo – ate food and drank alcohol.

Mr Wang, however, stayed in the room he lived in upstairs with another assistant chef, Xu Xiang Ping.

After the Lyndhurst staff left sometime after midnight Mr Wang came downstairs and joined Monica and Mr Guo.

But the chefs soon became embroiled in an argument that turned into a physical fight.

Speaking through an interpreter at the inquest, Mr Guo said the argument was over their differing opinions on granting people privacy when they were using social media accounts.

“We were discussing about privacy and whether it’s good or not good to maintain that privacy on social media on the mobiles,” Mr Guo explained.

He said there was then a “burst of anger” from Mr Wang.

“He stood and he cursed at me and lunged at me. He attacked me. I resisted. I pushed him away. Then he attacked me again and then we started fighting.”

He said Mr Wang started throwing things at him and he sustained injuries. He was “frightened” as he had never seen Mr Wang with “such a furious expression”.

Asked about the ladle, Mr Guo said the next day he “realised” he may have struck Mr Wang with it.

Pressed by the coroner, he added: “I said to the police ‘perhaps, maybe’.”

The coroner’s court at Winchester

The officer in charge of the case confirmed that when officers attended the scene Mr Guo “mimed” to them how he struck Mr Wang with a kitchen ladle.

DC Brad Wanless said: “All I can say is there was a thorough investigation. All evidence was collated together and presented to the CPS and seeing the evidence they provided advice.

“As a result of that no further action was taken in respect of Mr Guo.”

Questioned by the coroner, he went on: “Attributing that injury to that ladle is problematic. To do that beyond reasonable doubt is considered an issue.

“Should that have been achieved the other area of difficulty in relation to proving any criminal offence would be the issue of self-defence which Mr Guo raises himself.”

Monica told the inquest she could not remember Mr Guo having a weapon on him during the fight, which she said was brief.

She cried as she recalled the moment she realised Mr Wang had died.

In a statement Mr Ping said he did not see the confrontation as he was upstairs chatting to his parents.

He said Mr Guo, who now lives in Bournemouth, got emotional in the morning when he tried to wake Mr Wang and realised he was dead.

He said the senior chef phoned his wife and apologised to her and their son.

Pathologist Basil Purdue carried out an autopsy on Mr Wang’s body and said he found fatal internal skull injuries had caused a fatal subdural hematoma.

Sometimes, he explained, people could suffer a bang to the head, experience dizziness but then feel they were fine, only for the bleeding to gradually worsen and eventually kill them.

He said examinations showed there was a small amount of bruising to the left hand side of Mr Wang’s skull that caused the bleeding, although there were few external injuries to his head.

Mr Wang had grazes and scratches on his face and body that were consistent with a “scuffle” but nothing of the nature of a “violent fight”.

He had examined the ladle that Mr Guo had “mimed” hitting Mr Wang with and said it was a lightweight spoon that was 44cm long and weighed 340gms.

“There was no features to suggest he [Mr Wang] was the victim of a bad beating and nothing to suggest he had been forcefully restrained against his will,” Mr Purdue said.

A neuropathologist also said Mr Wang died of blunt force trauma, he added.

The fatal injury is known as a “coup” injury, he added, and those cannot be caused by someone falling and hitting their head.

But they can be caused by a blow to the head, such as if someone banged their head against a wall, Mr Purdue conceded.

“I cannot say what hit the head but I can say death was a fault of that blow and not the fault of Mr Wang falling and hitting his head on something; that did not happen.”

Injuries were classed in three scales: minor, moderate and severe, he said, adding Mr Wang’s was minor.

Otherwise, Mr Wang – who was 6ft 1ins tall and of slim build – was in good health, he confirmed.

“It’s a matter of ill-fortune that this has happened rather than a minor injury,” Mr Purdue added.

Coroner Graham Short gave an open determination, explaining: “That is because there is insufficient evidence before me to recommend any other logical conclusion on these facts.”

He added that Mr Wang died from a subdural hematoma caused by a blow to the head.

There might have been a “forceful blow”, possibly by a ladle, but several factors meant he could not say if that was the cause or not of the fatal bleed on the brain.

Mr Short said there was a fight between the chefs in which both suffered physical injury and he noted the self-defence claim put forward by Mr Guo.

“I do not doubt Mr Guo’s honesty but I do not understand why Mr Wang became so angry,” Mr Short said.

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