Man in Australia found guilty of bludgeoning five relatives to death
After seven years and four trials, a man in Australia has been found guilty of murdering five relatives in their Sydney home.
Fuelled by humiliation and resentment at his "inferior" status among his in-laws, Robert Xie crept into the house and bludgeoned five members of the Lin family.
The victims were beaten almost beyond recognition, their limp pale bodies lying in pools of blood, streaks of bright red on the walls.
On Thursday, a majority of 11 jurors found Xie, 53, guilty of five counts of murder in the NSW Supreme Court.
His face impassive, Xie rose to his feet and said: "I did not murder the Lin family, I am innocent."
Supported by a chaplain, his wife Kathy Lin sobbed quietly in court with her head bowed after the verdict was delivered.
"He's innocent!" she cried.
But Kathy's parents embraced Crown prosecutor Tanya Smith and sobbed on the other side of the courtroom.
Xie was charged with murdering his brother-in-law, Min Lin (aged 45), his wife Lily Lin (43), the couple's children Henry (12) and Terry (9), and Lily's sister Irene Lin (39), on July 18, 2009.
Prosecutors said Xie was motivated to kill Kathy's brother and his family because he was enraged by his perceived lowly status within the family.
"These perceptions invoked intense emotions on his behalf including anger and resentment and that [Xie] directed these emotions at Min and his wife," Smith said.
The Crown said Xie sedated his wife and left her in bed before going to the north Sydney home between 2am and 5.30am.
He cut the electricity and used a key to get inside without a sound.
He was carrying a hammer-like weapon – "assembled for maximum effect to incapacitate and kill" – and used it to beat Min and Lily while they slept.
Xie then crept to the second bedroom and killed Irene.
It's likely Terry and Henry woke up and tried to escape before they were murdered, possibly because they had seen Xie and would have been able to identify him.
"It's apparent from the blood splatter patterns – there was a furious struggle in that bedroom," Smith said.
Asphyxia was a contributing cause of death in the parents and children.
For unknown reasons, Xie then returned to the parents' bedroom and rearranged their bodies so they were lying in a "v-shape", Min hidden under the covers.
In the daylight hours of July 18, Xie was up early cleaning his garage, where detectives later found a 6mm mark.
The Crown said the stain matched the blood of at least four of the victims, Min, Terry, Henry and Irene.
When Kathy found out the family's newsagency had not opened that morning, the couple went to the Lins' house on Boundary Road, and walked upstairs.
"[Xie] was hugging Kathy Lin and telling her not to look upon entering into Min's bedroom at a point where he was not in a position to see Lily Lin's body," Smith said.
Xie then left his wife at the house, while she made a hysterical call to triple-0.
"He left his scared wife – who didn't want him to go – all by herself," Smith said.
Police identified Xie as a main suspect about six months after the murders, and began surveillance.
In May 2010, after Kathy was told by the NSW Crime Commission that police found bloody shoe prints at the crime scene, Xie was captured on video destroying shoe boxes.
About 20 bloody shoe prints in the upstairs bedrooms of the Lin family home were found to be possibly consistent with ASICS Gel Evation sport shoes, in a style not produced since 2005. It was a brand and size of shoe worn by Xie.
Xie was arrested in May 2011 and taken into custody.
In a conversation with an inmate, identified only as Witness A, Xie expressed concern there was CCTV footage of him getting rid of the murder weapon shortly after the Lin family's bodies were found.
The court heard Xie, a former ear, nose and throat specialist, also told Witness A about a pressure point on the body that could incapacitate.
Some of the conversations between Xie and Witness A were captured on tape, but others were not.
Friends of Xie gave evidence, describing him as a friendly, gentle and honest man.
"People can have two sides," fellow Crown barrister Kate Ratcliffe told the jury.
"There's the side they show to the world ... and the side they keep to themselves, that only comes to be known in unguarded conversation … or activities they didn't think anyone would ever know about."
The court will hear submissions on Xie's sentence on February 10.
Earlier on Thursday, the jury of nine men and three women had advised Justice Elizabeth Fullerton that they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict. It was their eighth day of deliberations.
After a second note to this effect was received, Justice Fullerton said a majority verdict of 11 jurors would be acceptable.
A majority verdict was delivered within minutes.
- Sydney Morning Herald, with AAP