Lin family murders
|Lin family murders|
|Location||North Epping, New South Wales, Australia|
|Date||18 July 2009|
|Deaths||5 (Min Lin, Yun Lin, Irene Lin, Henry Lin, Terry Lin)|
|Perpetrator||Lian Bin "Robert" Xie|
The Lin family murders were the 18 July 2009 killings in North Epping, New South Wales, Australia, of newsagency proprietor Min Lin; his wife Yun Lin; his sister-in-law Irene Lin; and their sons Henry and Terry. The family were bludgeoned to death. Min Lin's sister Kathy discovered the bodies. Jun "Brenda" Lin, 15, was the only member of the immediate family to survive the incident as she was on a school trip in New Caledonia with Cheltenham Girls High School at the time.
On 5 May 2011, Lian Bin "Robert" Xie was arrested and charged with the murders. After several misstarts and abandoned trials, the third trial ended in December 2015 with a hung jury. Xie was later granted bail. A retrial was held in 2016, with a jury finding Xie guilty of the murders by a majority verdict on 12 January 2017.
In the early hours of 18 July 2009 in North Epping, New South Wales, newsagent proprietor Min Lin (45), wife Yun Lin (43), his sister-in-law Irene Lin (39), and the Lins' two sons, Henry (12) and Terry (9) were bludgeoned to death. Kathy Lin, sister of Min Lin, discovered the bodies when she (accompanied by her husband Lian Bin "Robert" Xie) went to the house at around 9:00 am to see why the newsagency run by the Lin family was not open. After arriving, entering via the unlocked front door, going upstairs and seeing the bloodied rooms and battered bodies, Kathy called 000 for an ambulance and struggled to explain what she had seen to the dispatcher. While waiting for the police, and uncertain if the attacker was still on site, Xie left Kathy at the scene to pick up his wife's and brother-in-law's parents who lived in Merrylands. Police and paramedics quickly arrived at the scene, but the victims (including Min who was later found underneath a doona) were clearly beyond help.
Police investigators noted the blood spatter from floor to ceiling, and the faces of the victims were so disfigured that forensics had to be used to identify them. It was also clear that no break-in point was evident (indicating the use of a key), that nothing had been ransacked or stolen, and that the killer had known the layout of the house, the location of the circuit breaker, and of Brenda's absence (given the fact that the attacker did not enter her room). Forensics also determined that the killings had been started with a hammer-like object, alleged at trial to have been bought from a $2 store, and four of the five victims had signs of asphyxia. 24 bloody shoe prints were also evident, determined to be around US-size 8.5 to 10.5, indicating a lone attacker.
Brenda Lin, then 15, was the only member of the immediate family to survive. She was on a year-10 French school trip in New Caledonia with Cheltenham Girls High School at the time, and learnt of the murders via Facebook. After the murders, Xie and Kathy Lin became her legal guardians, and they resumed operation of the successful newsagent business. Brenda Lin subsequently revealed that she had been sexually abused by Xie during this period.
A month after the attack, Strike Force Norburn was set-up to coordinate the investigation. In May 2010 the NSW Crime Commission told Kathy Lin about the discovery of shoe prints that may match an ASICS sneaker, and a 6-month long covert police surveillance video later showed Xie cutting up a size 9.5 ASICS sneakers box and flushing it down a toilet. Based on Xie's garage clean-up on the morning of the murders, forensics searched his home and used bloodstain pattern analysis on a stain on the floor of the garage, leading the Crown prosecutor to allege that the stain was blood. Later analysis of "stain 91" by Cybergenetics in Pittsburgh, USA revealed it to contain DNA from four of the five victims.
Just after 9:00 am on 5 May 2011, Xie (then 47), Brenda Lin's uncle, was arrested without incident at his home in North Epping, following an extensive investigation, and on 19 December 2012, he was committed for trial. Xie's trial had been scheduled to begin in September 2013. DNA tests on some evidence were in the process of being completed. Regarding motive, Xie, who had been an ENT in China, before migrating to Melbourne in 2006, and attempting unsuccessfully to open a restaurant (before relocating to Sydney), had felt slighted by his loss of status and face when compared to his successful in-laws. He was also attracted sexually to his niece.
On 22 July 2013, The Supreme Court delayed the trial until 17 March 2014. This was agreed between the prosecution and the defence, although the newspaper reports were not able to comment on the reasons for the delay.
The grandparents of Henry and Terry, Yang Fei Lin and Feng Qing Zhu, were in the Supreme Court of New South Wales with their daughter Kathy Lin on 20 May and 21 May 2014, where Fei Lin described his horror at learning that five family members were dead, and where he also criticised Xie for being jobless.
The second trial for the murders began in August 2014, but was abandoned again shortly thereafter in September due to health issues of the trial judge.
The third trial commenced in February 2015. Xie, who had been refused bail ahead of the trial, pleaded not guilty. On 1 December 2015, after a 9-month trial and 11 days of deliberation, two separate notes from the jury of 12 indicated they were unable to reach a verdict. An agreement still could not be reached after a direction from presiding Justice Elizabeth Fullerton indicating that she would accept a majority verdict of 11 to 1. Fullerton formally discharged the jury on 1 December.
The date for a retrial was initially undecided, but then confirmed for August 2016. Robert Xie's defence lawyers arguing that the injuries inflicted upon the family members indicated that the murders were committed by more than one person. Xie was granted bail on 8 December 2015.
A retrial commenced in Sydney in June 2016. On 12 January 2017, a jury found Xie guilty of five counts of murder. As in the previous trial, the jury had been unable to reach a unanimous verdict, and Justice Fullerton advised a majority (11 to 1) verdict would be accepted by the court. Xie was sentenced on 13 February 2017, to five consecutive life sentences in prison without possibility of parole.
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