Page last updated at 11:36 GMT, Tuesday, 19 May 2009 12:36 UK

Police's cultural respect praised

By Chris Stewart, Chief Reporter
Look North, Newcastle

Sanbao Zhou
Both victims were repeatedly hit with a heavy weapon

The parents of a young Chinese couple murdered in Newcastle have spoken of the faith they had in the British police's ability to solve the crimes and how well they were treated by officers.

Restaurant worker Guang Hui Cao has been found guilty of the murders of Xi Zhou and Zhen Xing Yang, both 25, who were killed in their flat in the city last August.

Sanbao Zhou, the father of Xi Zhou, said the loss of his daughter was made more bearable by police efforts to respect his culture and lay on translators to cope with his painful stay in the UK.

A picture of his beloved daughter was also, thoughtfully, placed in his hotel room.

He told the BBC: "Because of the very humane way we were treated, it gave us hope and confidence that the police would sort out the case.

"I would like, with my family, to thank the British police for all their hard work and efforts."

He was the hope of our family, the only hope of our family - every time I walk on the street I think I will see him
Shu Zhen Qu, the mother of Zhen Xing Yang

Shu Zhen Qu, the mother of Zhen Xing Yang, also came to the North East to help police, and said she struggled to accept the horrific news of her son's death.

She said: "I did not believe that it was real. I didn't believe it. I thought it was wrong. I said continuously to the person on the telephone that he must have made a mistake.

"I could not accept this, because he is my only son. For 25 years, I raised him.

"Our family is not very rich but we did what we could and because there is only one child in every family he was the hope of our family, the only hope of our family.

"Every time I walk on the street I think I will see him."

The 53-year-old former hairdresser said her loss was made easier because she did not have to deal with the red tape of travelling to another country.

She added: "When I heard the news about the murders, both the government of UK and China were very concerned.

Xi Zhou and her boyfriend Zhen Xing Yang
Photos of Xi Zhou and Zhen Xing Yang were put in their parents' hotel rooms

"From getting a passport to getting a visa they were very helpful and we got our visas very fast.

"And with the help of the British police we were able to come to England. We do not know what we would have done without their help."

From the beginning of the case, Northumbria Police were acutely aware of the cultural sensitivities required with dealing with the victims' families.

To win their trust and confidence, Det Supt Steve Wade, who led the murder inquiry, learned a few words of Mandarin and familiarised himself with Chinese etiquette.

He even learned how to present his business card, the Chinese way.

He said: "You hold it with both your thumbs, with the details facing the person you're giving it to, and you keep your heels together and bow lightly.

"It might sound trivial, but we had to do everything we could to make things as easy and comfortable as we could for the families.

"It was a terrible time for them. We were determined not to make it any worse."

He also took a former Hong Kong police officer, Andy Lai, of Hampshire Constabulary, to China with him on secondment.

Xi Zhou and her boyfriend Zhen Xing Yang
Both parents said they were 'very proud' of their children

And his dedication has won him special praise.

Sanbao Zhou, 57, a retired chemical engineering company manager, said: "Dealing with the events after the murder, we think that Andy helped us a lot.

"When we came in on our flight to the UK, we did not speak any English and it was very difficult.

"But the British police have actually sent people to come to the airport to pick us up, and also arranged members of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association of Newcastle to follow.

"When they took us to our hotel, the first person we saw gave us a letter from Det Supt Wade.

"The entire letter was translated into Chinese, telling us that if we needed anything they would be glad to help us.

"It really helped us with our grief and the entire tragedy."

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