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Victim had so much to live for

PUBLISHED: 13:09 04 August 2001 | UPDATED: 15:16 03 March 2010

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HOI Phat Lui - known as "Phil" to his friends - was a bright and popular man who made friends easily and steered clear of trouble.

Born in Vietnam in January 1976, he moved to Britain with his family four years later to settle in Felixstowe where he went to Orwell High School until he was 18.

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HOI Phat Lui - known as "Phil" to his friends - was a bright and popular man who made friends easily and steered clear of trouble.

Born in Vietnam in January 1976, he moved to Britain with his family four years later to settle in Felixstowe where he went to Orwell High School until he was 18.

Mr Lui had a number of jobs, including a two-month stint working at a Chinese restaurant in Colchester, but at the time of his death he was living in Ipswich's Nacton Road where he was helping his brother to run a fish and chip shop.

The 24-year-old had studied psychology and business studies A' Levels at Suffolk College for a brief period in 1999 where he met John Catlow - the friend he was out with on the night of the fatal attack - but quit due to lack of funds.

Asthmatic Mr Lui was not a large man at just 5ft 5ins and weighing 68kg. During the murder trial, he was described by his sister as a gentle and non-aggressive man who had a "forgive and forget nature" and steered clear of trouble.

A Suffolk College employee, who asked not to be identified, said Mr Lui was an "easy going fellow" who had no trouble making friends. She said he left the college after just a month in 1999 due to a lack of cash.

"I knew him from the college as a very pleasant easy going young man," a member of the college staff said.

"He was on a fast track A-level course but he left after a month as he wasn't able to afford to come to college and keep himself so he had to go to work."

Mr Lui was a friendly student who got on well with staff and fellow students, she said.

"Many students come past the office on a daily basis and some say hello. He was one of the ones that did. He would always give a friendly nod of the head.

"I wasn't really a close friend but I remember him as a very pleasant and friendly young man. He was just not the type to get in trouble. He was too bright to run into that sort of thing.

"Phil Lui was a really genuine fellow, pleasant and easy going. He wasn't here long but he made friends easily," she said.

Although he had left the college nearly a year before he died the employee said a feeling of shock still descended upon staff and students following his killing.

"The people that knew him were shocked and saddened. Nobody could believe that this genuine fellow had been hurt. Initially people realised he was particularly poorly but perhaps not the full extent. After he died everyone was just so shocked."

On the afternoon before Mr Lui was horrifically beaten and left with injuries that he would die from nine days later, he had been cleaning out his Nacton Road flat with college friend John Catlow before the pair headed out for a birthday celebration.

The friends had arranged to meet up with two girls named Vicky and Rachel and the foursome headed to the Cock & Pye pub on Upper Brook Street, arriving there at around 8.15pm.

Around an hour later, the group headed for the Falcon pub where they saw Steven Lowe playing pool. Mr Lui - who had played pool against Lowe in the past and owed him £5 for a game he had lost - acknowledged Lowe and the greeting was returned.

Former landlady at the Falcon Angela Gardner said Mr Lui was a regular at the pub who always came in at around the same time, just after 9.30pm, on a Monday night. He came mainly to play pool and was entered in the pub's pool competition

Mr Lui and his party drank at the Falcon for around half-an-hour before heading to Mannings in a slightly "tipsy" state. Vicky and Rachel left for home at about 11.15pm leaving Mr Catlow and Mr Lui to go on to Kartouche, which was holding a student night, alone.

It was there that the fatal attack began and outside the club that Lewis Carroll continued the savage beating, biting off part of his nose.

Mr Lui was taken to Ipswich Hospital with horrific head injuries, broken ribs and severely comatose, before being quickly transferred to Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge,where there are many experts in treating head injuries. He died nine days after the attack on August 23.

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