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Last Updated: Friday, 24 March 2006, 16:25 GMT
Profile of a gangmaster: Lin Liang Ren
As gangmaster Lin Liang Ren is convicted of killing 21 Chinese cockle pickers, BBC News looks at his life.

Lin Liang Ren
Lin was said to be a heavy gambler

The police photo of Lin Liang Ren shows a bemused, pasty-faced, scruffy individual - looking every inch a crime victim rather than a perpetrator.

But the truth about Lin is a tale of wealth, privilege and a good education - in stark contrast to the compatriots he abandoned to the Irish Sea.

He was brought up in Fuqing City in south east China's Fujian province, his family owning a second house in the country.

His father, Lin Xien Hua, 57, and mother, Chen He Zhu, 52, ensured that Lin, his brother and sister - who now lives in Argentina - were well-educated.

He qualified as an accountant and became head of finance at Fuqing's Mo Chang Plastics Company - a firm that employed 900 people.

'Someone of substance'

But Fujian is a hotbed of Chinese emigration to the West and Lin soon realised the opportunities this presented.

As Det Supt Mick Gradwell, who led the inquiry, put it: "He was someone of substance in China - the idea he came here in order to go out on the beach and pick cockles himself is far fetched."

Zhao Xiao Qing
Zhao Xiao Qing was convicted of immigration offences

In 2000 he came to Britain and posed as a student to gain a visa. He kept up this cover by paying 1,500 a time to enrol in college courses in London and Manchester.

Liverpool's Chinatown gave him the manpower he need to start his business - and he set about forging cockling permits and providing fake National Insurance numbers.

But Lin would not be dirtying his own hands with manual labour. He told police: "I don't like the cold and I don't like the water."

He would drive his workers to and from the sands - to and from the squalid overcrowded houses and flats he rented for them.

Meanwhile, he would return to the house he shared with his young girlfriend, Zhao Xiao Qing, or take his red Mitsubishi sports car into the city centre to visit casinos.

Yet after the tragedy, he tried to claim he was just an ordinary worker - while warning his tired, frightened charges of "serious consequences" for any who blew his cover.

"There is a level of uncaring arrogance about Lin Liang Ren - the thread that comes through all this is money," Mr Gradwell said.

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