Tuesday 24 October 2017

Police check CCTV footage for wife who vanished from cruise as husband is held

Daniel Belling and his wife, Xing Lei Li, right, were on the cruise ship in the Mediterranean with their two sons when Ms Xing went missing. Mr Belling claims she is in Dublin or China. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Daniel Belling and his wife, Xing Lei Li, right, were on the cruise ship in the Mediterranean with their two sons when Ms Xing went missing. Mr Belling claims she is in Dublin or China. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Ryan Nugent

A Dublin-based IT consultant arrested on suspicion of killing his wife is still locked up in an Italian prison while authorities examine CCTV footage.

Daniel Belling (45) was arrested last week as he tried to board a plane from Rome to Dublin with his two children, following a Mediterranean cruise where his wife, Xing Lei Li, went missing.

German native Mr Belling - a Dublin resident for a number of years along with the rest of his family - is being held by Italian authorities at Rome's Regina Coeli prison, while his two sons are kept in protective custody. It is understood that efforts are being made to repatriate the boys to a family member, which could happen as early as today.

Italian police are currently going through CCTV footage from the cruise ship. However, it is understood that Mr Belling wants the case to be dealt with as a missing person situation, rather than a murder.

He has told judges in Italy he believes his Chinese wife is alive and that she left the cruise they were on following an argument - and that he believes she is in either Dublin or China.

Read more: 'My wife is still alive' claims cruise ship murder suspect

The MSC Magnifica cruise ship
The MSC Magnifica cruise ship

Mr Belling said he last saw his wife when their ship docked on the Greek island of Katakolon. He has claimed that following an outing with his children, he returned to the ship only for his wife to have left with all of her belongings.

Mr Belling's lawyer, Luigi Conti, said that he had informed cleaning staff on the ship that there would be three ­staying in their room as ­opposed to four after Ms Xing went missing. His lawyer told the Irish Independent yesterday that he was doing "OK" in prison, but he did not want to comment further until today.

The family, who live in Clare Hall, Dublin, set off on an 11-day cruise on the MSC Magnifica on February 9 from the Italian port Civitavecchia, just outside Rome.

However, authorities were alerted in Rome when a head-count conducted by crew members aboard the ship at the end of the cruise found that Ms Xing was missing.

Italian police intercepted Mr Belling before he could board his flight back to Dublin on Thursday.

Business

The couple began a 'Cinderella Wedding' business in ­Dublin in 2015 and offer ­wedding dress rentals and photo album ­designs in their packages.

The business is believed to be aimed at the Chinese community in Dublin.

Ms Xing 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.

They had just got married at the time.

The incident happened on August 22, 2010. The court heard that Ms Xing and Mr Belling had had several eviction notices served on them over rent arrears, the keeping of cats, and sub-letting a room.

Ms Xing was prosecuted on a charge of burglary with ­intent to cause criminal damage. But Judge Catherine Murphy ­dismissed the charge.

Ms Xing, with an address at Clare Village, Coolock, denied burglary at the apartment at Hunter's Hall, Hunterswood, Ballycullen.

Irish Independent

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