Lin family murders

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Lin family murders
Location North Epping, New South Wales, Australia
Date 18 July 2009
Attack type
Mass murder
Weapons Hammer-like object
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. Brenda Lin, 15, was the only member of the immediate family to survive 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 aborted 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.


On 18 July 2009 in North Epping, New South Wales, newsagent proprietor Min Lin, wife Yun Lin, his sister-in-law Irene Lin, and the Lins' two sons, Henry (12) and Terry (9) were bludgeoned to death with a hammer-like object, allegedly bought from a $2 store.[1] Kathy Lin, sister of Min Lin, discovered the bodies when she went to the house at around 9:00 am to see why the newsagency run by the Lin family was not open. Kathy called 000 and said that her brother was dead.[2] Police and an ambulance arrived at the scene, but the victims were beyond help. The faces of the victims were so disfigured that forensics had to be used to identify them.[3]

Brenda Lin, then 15, was the only member of the immediate family to survive. She was on a school trip in New Caledonia with Cheltenham Girls High School at the time of the murders. She learned of the murders via Facebook.[4]

Arrest of suspect

Just after 9:00 am on 5 May 2011, Lian Bin "Robert" Xie (then 47), Brenda Lin's uncle, was arrested without incident at his home in North Epping, following an extensive investigation. Brenda Lin had been living with Xie and his wife Kathy since the murders. She subsequently revealed that she had been sexually abused by Xie during this period.[5] On 19 December 2012, Xie was committed for trial.[6]

Evidence gathering

Police forensics searched the home of the victims. In May 2010 the NSW Crime Commission told Kathy Lin about the discovery of shoe prints that may match an ASICS sneaker, and police surveillance video later showed Robert Xie cutting up boxes of ASICS sneakers and flushing them down a toilet.[7][8] Forensics used bloodstain pattern analysis on a stain on the floor of Xie's garage, leading the Crown prosecutor to allege that the stain was blood.[9]

Trial of suspect

Xie's trial had been scheduled to begin in September 2013. DNA tests on some evidence were in the process of being completed.[10]

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.[11]

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.[12]

The second trial for the murders began in August 2014, but was aborted again shortly thereafter in September due to health issues of the trial judge.[13]

The third trial commenced in February 2015. Xie, who had been refused bail ahead of the trial,[14] pleaded not guilty.[15] 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.[15]

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.[15] Xie was granted bail on 8 December 2015.[16]

A retrial commenced in Sydney in June 2016.[17] On 12 January 2017, a jury found Xie guilty of five counts of murder.[18] 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.[19] Xie was sentenced on 13 February 2017, to five consecutive life sentences in prison without possibility of parole.[20]

See also


  1. ^ Wells, Jamelle (12 May 2014). "Robert Xie trial: Lin family 'murdered with hammer bought from $2 shop'". Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  2. ^ "The evidence that helped police prove Robert Xie was a killer". 16 January 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017. 
  3. ^ "Due to family circumstances a nation lives bewildered". The Sydney Morning Herald. 25 July 2009. Retrieved 12 January 2017. 
  4. ^ Marcus, Caroline. "Girl learned on Facebook of familys murder". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 January 2017. 
  5. ^ Gardiner, Stephanie (16 February 2017). "A motive in Lin murders revealed: Robert Xie's niece Brenda Lin breaks her silence". Retrieved 27 February 2017. 
  6. ^ Paul Bibby (19 December 2012). "Lin family slaying: Robert Xie to stand trial over deaths". St George & Sutherland Shire Leader. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  7. ^ Gardiner, Stephanie (16 January 2017). "Police video captured Robert Xie destroying evidence in Lin family case". Retrieved 27 February 2017. 
  8. ^ Gardiner, Stephanie (12 January 2017). "The Lin family killings: A timeline". Retrieved 27 February 2017. 
  9. ^ Gardiner, Stephanie (16 January 2017). "The tiny stain that broke open the investigation into the Lin family killings". Retrieved 27 February 2017. 
  10. ^ Jamelle Wells (31 May 2013) Trial over Lin family murder could last 12 weeks by , ABC News, Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  11. ^ DALE, AMY (22 July 2013). "Lian Bin 'Robert' Xie will not go to trial over the Lin family killings until next year". Daily Telegraph (Sydney). Retrieved 23 April 2014. 
  12. ^ Bibby, Paul (21 May 2014). "'Everything is gone': grandfather describes horror of finding out five family members were dead". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  13. ^ Hall, Louise (23 September 2014). "Robert Xie trial over Lin family murders aborted". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 December 2015. 
  14. ^ Bibby, Paul (13 October 2015). "Accused Lin family murderer Robert Xie refused bail ahead of third trial". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 December 2015. 
  15. ^ a b c Bibby, Paul (1 December 2015). "Robert Xie trial jury discharged after failing to reach verdict over Lin family murders". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 December 2015. 
  16. ^ Bibby, Paul (8 December 2015). "Man accused of 2009 Lin family murders, Robert Xie, granted bail in NSW Supreme Court". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 8 December 2015. 
  17. ^ "Robert Xie arriving in court". Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  18. ^ "Xie found guilty of murdering five extended family members". ABC News. 12 January 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2017. 
  19. ^ Whitbourn, Michaela (12 January 2017). "Jury in Robert Xie retrial says they are unable to reach unanimous verdict". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 January 2017. 
  20. ^ Hall, Louise (13 February 2017). "Robert Xie given five life sentences for Lin family murders". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 February 2017. 

Further reading

  • Illawarra Mercury
  • Daily Telegraph
  • Sydney Morning Herald
  • Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  • SMH
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