Andrew L. Urban.
Chief Justice of NSW Tom Bathurst QC will be one of the judges (along with Justices Hulme and Beech-Jones) to hear the appeal by Lian Bin (Robert) Xie against his five 2017 murder convictions, starting on Monday, June 22, 2020, in the spacious Banco Court of the Law Courts Building in Queens Square, Sydney. The convictions, we believe, are collectively unsafe; see below. Whatever the outcome of the appeal, it is destined to be a historic legal milestone – and we will be reporting on the proceedings.
In our earlier report on this case, we argued that there was no direct evidence that Robert Xie viciously murdered five members of his wife’s family in 2009, nor any credible circumstantial evidence. This was based on the information in the public domain and subsequent enquiries, including with several participants in the proceedings.
Extracts from the timeline of the case:
May 5, 2011
Robert Xie is arrested and charged with five counts of murder. Police tell the media that he emerged as their prime suspect about six months after the killings. Xie is held on remand. It’s almost two years since the murders.
April 5, 2012
Justice Derek Price denies Xie bail, but acknowledges a jury may find there is not enough evidence to convict Xie.
August 20, 2012
Xie faces a committal hearing in Central Local Court.
December 19, 2012
Xie is committed to stand trial for the murders, and his lawyer again applies for bail.
December 20, 2012
Xie is granted bail by local court magistrate John Andrews, who says the Crown case is not strong.
Andrews had noted that the prosecution had described the murder of Xie’s brother-in-law, Min ”Norman” Lin and four members of his family, bludgeoned and strangled in their beds, as a crime of extreme violence and personal hatred but was unable to establish a clear motive for the crimes.
”It was effectively conceded by the prosecutor that there was no evidence of motive. On the contrary, the evidence indicates a very close relationship between the families.”
He also noted that there were weaknesses in the DNA evidence from what may have been a spot of blood found on Xie’s garage floor.
The prosecution said it contained a mix of at least three different kinds of blood, at least one of which had virtually identical characteristics to one of the victims.
But the court has heard that the female DNA contained within the sample may not have matched the two female victims of the murders.
”There is no doubt that the total exclusion of Lily [Lin] and Irene [Lin] as major contributors puts the prosecution case based on DNA evidence in a different light, and makes it a weaker prosecution case,” Andrews had said.
The Crown prosecutor, Mark Tedeschi, conceded that the prosecution case ”may not be an overwhelming one”.
* Belinda Rigg SC, the first female to be appointed Senior Public Defender (in 2019) is representing Xie.