An internet café manager has been jailed for six years for kicking a customer to death during a row over a 70c phone call.

The victim’s family has criticised the sentence.

Zhen Dong Zhao, aged 40, pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Noel Fegan, a father of two. He kicked him to death outside the e-Times internet café and call shop on Lower Wellington Quay in Dublin City on May 20, 2011.

Zhao, of Jervis St, Dublin, was originally convicted of the 39-year old’s murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in December 2012.

That conviction was overturned earlier this year and a retrial ordered. However, Zhao’s plea was accepted by the State at the Central Criminal Court last month.

The court heard that Mr Fegan, a recovering heroin addict, had gone into Zhao’s shop that afternoon after receiving a ‘call me’ text message from his 12-year-old daughter.

A row broke out between the two men over the payment of 70c for that call.

Zhao admitted to gardaí that he had been ‘angry’ after Mr Fegan had argued over payment. He said he ran after him because he “wanted to teach them not to do this again”, adding: “I don’t like these types of people.”

Zhen Dong Zhao: ‘I feel sorry for him and his family.’
Zhen Dong Zhao: ‘I feel sorry for him and his family.’

“He lost his life over 70 cent,” Zhao added, however. “I feel sorry for him and his family.”

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy yesterday imposed a six-year sentence, with an order that Zhao receive credit for the two years and eight months he had already spent in custody.

Mr Fegan’s niece, Claudia Doyle, spoke outside court following sentencing. She said the family was upset with the sentence her uncle’s killer had received.

“I know we’ll never get justice. Nothing’s going to bring Noel back,” she said. “It would have been easier to see him go away for a longer period of time, but I suppose we just have to deal with what happened today.”

She said her uncle had been “a really genuine, happy-go-lucky guy”, who wanted to turn his life around and for whom things were getting better.

“Nothing we do now is going to bring him back,” she concluded.


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