A TAKEAWAY boss was beaten almost to death with a hammer over an unpaid food wholesaler’s bill and a missing Christmas gift, a court heard.

Teesside Crown Court heard that Zheng Guan Lin, from Spennymoor, had a heated telephone conversation with the proprietor of Wings takeaway on Oxbridge Lane, Stockton on January 21.

Lin and his co defendants, Jian Zeng Lin and Jian Chuang Zhu, ran a business called iChina, a food wholesaler which supplies meat and vegetables to restaurants.

But the Wings boss had changed his supplier and had not been given his usual Christmas gift by them. There was also a suggestion he owed iChina for a delivery to the value of about £500.

Prosecutor Shaun Dodds told the court: “At the end of that telephone call with Lin he was told: ‘Do you want to die? Just wait there’.”

The three men then arrived at his takeaway by car and burst inside, catching him in the kitchen.

While one defendant blocked the exit and another grabbed their victim by the hood of his sweatshirt, Zheng Guan Lin suddenly produced a hammer.

In a statement the victim said: “Something hit my head, I turned and saw Zheng Guan Lin with a hammer and felt blood all over my face. I lost my balance as I felt them pulling at me.

“I couldn’t stand up as Zhu was pulling my by my hood.

“Zheng Guan Lin continued to hit my head, I don’t know where the hammer even came from.

“I was being punched, kicked and hit with the hammer, I was trying to protect myself but the third male, Jian Zeng Lin, started kicking my head.

“I lost all my energy and could not defend myself any longer, I stopped struggling and stopped trying to avoid the attack.

“I think I lost consciousness at one point.I could hear my wife yelling and crying.”

His wife told how all three men were standing over her husband yelling as they attacked him but that he was not responding.

The attack damaged the victim’s left eye so badly that in June he underwent a corneal transplant and is still fighting to regain his sight.

In his victim personal statement, the victim said: “I was a self sufficient working man but my business is now closed because of the attack on me in January. We lived off our small savings but I am now reliant on my wife’s income. “My life is terrible, I get terrible headaches which make me nauseous and get no better even if I lie down. I feel in a deep depression and need professional help, my wife fears I will do something stupid.”

“I can’t see an end to this pain, I have to avoid thinking about the attack.

“It has given me a fear of other Chinese people. I know they are well connected in the Chinese community and are very wealthy people, I am also afraid that they may pay someone to kill me.”

He added: “The attack was without provocation, they came to my workplace and attacked me. It has changed my life forever and I can never forgive these people.”

In her statement to the court his wife said: “These criminals had no mercy and I believe they intended to murder my husband in front of my eyes.”

Zheng Guan Lin, 43, of Hawthorn Road, Spennymoor, admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

“You were the ringleader,” the judge told him, jailing him for 12 years.

Jian Zeng Lin, 41, of Bourne Morton Drive, Stockton, and Jian Chuang Zhu, 34, of Lever Street, MIddlesbrough, both admitted section 20 wounding without intent. They were each jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Defence barristers said it was an isolated attack, they showed genuine remorse and shame and worked hard for their families and the Chinese community.