Wednesday 13 December 2017

Murder accused ran 'Cinderella' wedding business with wife who disappeared from cruise

Daniel Belling with his Chinese wife, Xing Lei Li Photo: Kyran O’Brien
Daniel Belling with his Chinese wife, Xing Lei Li Photo: Kyran O’Brien

Ian Begley

The Dublin man charged with murdering his wife after she disappeared from a luxury cruise ran a fairytale-themed wedding planning business with her.

Daniel Belling's Chinese wife Xing Lei Li started Cinderella's Wedding in 2015 and offered a range of packages, including wedding dress rentals, flamboyant decor and photo album design.

The couple also had a range of podcasts on their website, which featured personal commentary on different tourism hotspots and festivals around Ireland, as well as cruises.

The two were themselves on an 11-day cruise around the Mediterranean with their two children when Ms Li, who was also known as Angie, disappeared.

Neighbours of the family in Clare Village, Malahide Road, told the Irish Independent that they often saw them drive in and out of the apartment complex in their Cinderella-styled car. They were described as "very odd".

Neighbour Lubos Pcola said that he once found Daniel (45) sleeping on the stairwell in his apartment complex.

He said: "A few months ago, a neighbour told me that there was a homeless man sleeping in the stairwell.

"When I went to investigate, I saw Daniel with blankets and everything around him. He told me everything was fine.

"I'm very shocked to hear that he got arrested - it's really crazy," he added.

Mr Belling, who is a German national, has been living and working in Dublin as an IT consultant.

The family's cruise began on February 9 in the port of Civitavecchia and took them to Malta, Greece and Cyprus.

When the luxury Magnifica cruise ship docked 10 days later, Mr Belling's wife was reported missing after crew members realised passenger details accounted for one less person.

He had allegedly failed to tell the ship's crew that his wife was not on board, a fact which aroused the suspicions of Italian police.

Mr Belling's lawyer, Luigi Conti, told the Irish Independent that his client is completely denying he had anything to do with his wife's disappearance and said that there is a "perfectly good explanation" for what happened.

Italian judges visited Mr Belling in his cell yesterday, where he was asked to give his version of events.

Ms Li previously appeared in court in Dublin, after having her front door broken down by gardaí when she refused to leave an apartment.

Dublin District Court heard there had been a dispute with the landlord over unpaid rent and because she was keeping pets, which was against the rules.

The couple had fallen behind in their rent when they both lost their jobs, the court was told.

They had just got married at the time of the case, which dated back to 2010.

Ms Li was prosecuted on a charge of burglary with intent to cause criminal damage.

But Judge Catherine Murphy dismissed the charge.

Irish Independent

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