Former Royal Marine charged with spying for China on Hong Kong activists found dead in park in 'unexplained death'

21 May 2024, 19:08 | Updated: 21 May 2024, 19:46

Matthew Trickett, 37, who was on bail after appearing in court accused of assisting the Hong Kong intelligence service
Matthew Trickett, 37, who was on bail after appearing in court accused of assisting the Hong Kong intelligence service. Picture: Social media

By Christian Oliver

A former Royal Marine who was charged with spying for China on Hong Kong activists has been found dead in a park in Maidenhead.

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Matthew Trickett, 37 - who was on bail after appearing in court accused of assisting the Hong Kong intelligence service - died in 'unexplained' circumstances, police said.

The former soldier was accused of foreign interference alongside Chi Leung (Peter) Wai, 38, and Chung Biu Yuen, 63. He appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court last week.

Thames Valley Police said Trickett was found dead in Grenfell Park, Maidenhead, at around 5.15pm on Sunday after a report from a member of the public.

An investigation is ongoing into the death, which is currently being treated as unexplained.

Matthew Trickett covering his face as he leaves Westminster Magistrates' Court, May 21
Matthew Trickett covering his face as he leaves Westminster Magistrates' Court, May 21. Picture: Alamy

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Trickett, a Home Office Immigration Enforcement officer and private investigator, previously fought against the Taliban and Somali pirates during his time in the Royal Marines between 2007 and 2013.

Thames Valley Police said in a statement: "Officers attended the scene and found a man. Emergency treatment was commenced but sadly the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

"An investigation is ongoing into the death, which is currently being treated as unexplained.

"Formal identification has taken place and we can confirm the man is Matthew Trickett, aged 37, from Maidenhead.

"His family have been informed and they are being supported by officers.

"We would kindly ask that their privacy is respected at this difficult time.  A post-mortem will be conducted in due course."

In a statement, the family told The Times: "We're mourning the loss of a much-loved son, brother and family man."

Matthew Trickett's solicitor Julian Hayes added: "It has sadly been confirmed by Thames Valley Police, that the body found in Grenfell Park, Maidenhead on Sunday, was that of our client Matthew Trickett.

"We are naturally shocked at this news and supporting his family as best we can.

"The death is currently being treated as unexplained by the police and further investigations are still ongoing."

Court artist sketch of Matthew Trickett (right) alongside Chung Biu Yuen (left) and Chi Leung Wai (centre), May 2
Court artist sketch of Matthew Trickett (right) alongside Chung Biu Yuen (left) and Chi Leung Wai (centre), May 2. Picture: Alamy

Trickett, Yuen and Wai were each charged under the National Security Act after an investigation by the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command.

The charges alleged that between December 20, 2023 and May 2, 2024 Yuen, Wai and Trickett agreed to undertake information gathering, surveillance and acts of deception that were likely to materially assist a foreign intelligence service.

It is also alleged that on May 1 they forced entry into a UK residential address, being reckless as to whether the prohibited conduct, or course of conduct of which it forms part, would have an interference effect.

They had all been bailed and were due to appear at the Old Bailey on Friday.

TVP referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), because Trickett's bail condition required him to regularly register at a police station.

The IOPC has assessed that referral and decided the matter should be investigated by TVP's professional standards department.

Trickett was formerly employed by the UK Border Force at London Heathrow Airport, before joining Home Office Immigration Enforcement on February 21 2024.

He was also the director of MTR Consultancy, a security firm formed in April 2021.

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