Jailed policeman's prison fear

A POLICEMAN'S career lay in tatters today as he starts a two-year prison sentence for killing a robber at point-blank range.Michael Cheong, a constable with Suffolk police, was said to be now living in fear from attacks by other prisoners in jail.

A POLICEMAN'S career lay in tatters today as he starts a two-year prison sentence for killing a robber at point-blank range.

Michael Cheong, a constable with Suffolk police, was said to be now living in fear from attacks by other prisoners in jail.

The 43-year-old, of Peterhouse Crescent, Woodbridge, was sentenced at the Old Bailey yesterday after being found guilty last month of the manslaughter of Brian Spencer in Guyana in 1982.

Cheong had denied murder and was cleared of the charge by a majority verdict of 10-1.

But he was found guilty of manslaughter on the basis he had committed an unlawful and dangerous act. Cheong will spend half of his sentence in jail and serve the remainder in the community on licence.

Mr Spencer, 23, was shot by Cheong, then a farm labourer, after he had attacked and robbed Cheong's newly-wed wife, Sandra, and her sister, Jackie.

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Cheong, who spent four weeks in custody after the verdict, has been living with two other prisoners in a cell designed for one person.

Judge Paul Focke was told yesterday that Cheong's job as a constable had laid him open to a miserable existence in prison.

Karim Khalil, mitigating, said: “He has experienced the shock of incarceration and the fear and panic that it would engender in any person.

”When others know of his employment and find him in prison, it is recognised that they will seek to effect their own form of retribution against him.”

Suffolk police will now start a disciplinary procedure to decide what action to take against Cheong, an Ipswich town centre beat officer, who has been suspended from duty since his arrest in November 2003.

Mr Khalil said Cheong had already been served with papers effectively terminating his employment and it was expected proceedings would start to recoup pension contributions.

“He faces financial ruin and the destruction of all that he most holds dear to him,” he said.

Numerous letters of support were handed in on Cheong's behalf from police officers, friends, clergy, his eldest daughter and his fiancée, Julie King, a civilian support worker at Ipswich police station.

Mr Khalil said Cheong's wife had played the “last roll of the dice” during the break down of their marriage in England and discussions about the custody of their two children when she told police about the death of Mr Spencer.

He said Mrs Cheong had told journalists that she had wanted revenge for the collapse of the marriage, an access battle over their younger daughter and his affair, rather than a desire for justice over the killing.

Mr Khalil said Mrs Cheong, a healthcare assistant now living in Cambridge, had been quoted as saying: “He treated me badly and now he's getting a taste of his own medicine. Well that's too bad.”

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