28 June 2023

Accused home invaders allegedly assault man, woman in Belconnen unit over debt

| Albert McKnight
two men leaving court

Wengao Zheng (left) and Xiantao Shang leave court on Monday afternoon. Photos: Albert McKnight.

It is alleged a man and a woman were at their home in a central Belconnen apartment block when it was invaded by a pair over a debt and they were subjected to a “nasty” assault.

Wengao Zheng, 44, and 36-year-old Xiantao Shang are accused of calling themselves “special army soldiers” from China during the alleged incident on Sunday night (25 June).

The complainants were at their home around 7 pm that night when they heard knocking on their door, court documents allege.

Mr Zheng and Mr Shang allegedly forced their way inside when the woman opened the door and told her they were looking for someone, giving her a name she didn’t recognise.

She told them she didn’t know this person and asked them to leave, but Mr Zheng allegedly pushed her into a wall and began to kick her when she fell to the ground.

It is alleged the man who lived at the home tried to stop the attack, but Mr Zheng repeatedly punched him in the face, and both alleged intruders kicked him when he fell.

This man called Triple Zero during the alleged incident. The documents say the operator could hear a “physical disturbance” and “multiple voices were heard screaming in Mandarin”.

Police officers arrived about 10 minutes after the call. They heard a disturbance coming from inside before the door was opened by the male resident, who had a significant injury to his eye.

When entering, the officers also saw red marks and bruising on the female resident’s face.

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Mr Zheng and Mr Shang were both in the unit’s living room, and police saw the former appeared to have a significant amount of blood on his hands and knuckles, while the latter appeared to have scratches and some blood on his hands.

According to the documents, Mr Shang alleged to officers that the male resident “had taken his money, Mr Zheng’s money and other people’s money and that’s why they came to find him”.

Paramedics took the man to hospital and police arrested the two alleged intruders.

The bar table was nearly full when both men appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court to apply for bail at the same time on Monday (26 June), with the two defendants, two defence lawyers, one prosecutor and one Mandarin interpreter all taking a seat.

Prosecutor Hannah Mitchell was concerned about the risk of the defendants leaving Australia and argued against them being granted bail without the court being given their passports.

She was also concerned there was an ongoing dispute about money.

Ms Mitchell said the complainants were extremely fearful and had suffered “significant violence”, with the man suffering trauma to his head and eye.

When he was arrested, the court heard Mr Zheng had been found with zip ties and duct tape in his pockets, but his lawyer, Legal Aid’s Tamzin Lee, said he worked in construction and renovation and had come from work.

The ties were to secure fencing at a property near Parliament House while the tape was to secure plastic on parts of the residence, she said.

“I am curious he didn’t have a spanner in his pocket for fixing those fences,” Special Magistrate Sean Richter commented.

Ms Lee argued her client had no previous criminal history and police had identified concerns with the credibility of the complainants.

Legal Aid’s Steph Corish, appearing for Mr Shang, argued it appeared her client was not the primary aggressor on the allegations and said self-defence was a live issue in his case.

She said the tiler had been in Australia for nine years and had permanent residency.

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Special Magistrate Richter described the alleged incident as a “fairly nasty assault”.

He ultimately granted bail on strict conditions, including that the men report each day to a police station, surrender their passports and not contact the complainants or each other.

The matter was adjourned to 4 September.

Mr Zheng, who is from Lyneham, pleaded not guilty to his charge of aggravated burglary but didn’t enter pleas to two counts of assault.

Mr Shang, who was bailed to live in Kaleen, pleaded not guilty to all his charges of aggravated burglary and assault.

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