Following our exhaustive, 3-part examination of the case starting on April 23, 2021, now, 10 years after his arrest, we expose the cumulative injustice that was perpetrated on Robert Xie in the wake of a vicious attack that killed almost all of his wife’s family. This step-by-step deconstruction reveals in sharp relief how the administrators of justice pursued him and failed the law.
The police and prosecution had to ignore common sense and rational deduction to charge Robert Xie with this crime. Maybe after a two year investigation with no leads, they were desperate. It was absurd on its face: a slightly built, mild mannered middle class migrant was charged with such violent murders that the deceased were damaged almost beyond recognition. The crime scene did not incriminate him. His wife supported his alibi. He had no motive.
But there might well be a motive that the prosecution preferred to ignore or play down – a motive that makes sense of the crime: those in a criminal syndicate who used the Lin newsagency as a drug drop off point may have had good reason to be enraged ….. and executed the crime with a professionalism that left no incriminating evidence.
July 18, 2009
Brutally murdered overnight on July 17/18, 2009, were Robert Xie’s brother-in-law Min Lin, 45, Mr Lin’s wife Yun Li “Lily” Lin, 44, their sons Henry, 12, and Terry, 9, and Mrs Lin’s sister, Yun Bin “Irene” Lin, 39. The bodies were discovered in the morning on July 18 by Robert Xie and his wife Kathy Lin who lived 300 metres away.
May 5, 2011
Robert Xie is arrested and charged with the five murders – almost two years after the deaths.
December 22, 2011
Xie makes an unsuccessful bail application, and remains behind bars.
April 5, 2012
Justice Derek Price denies bail, but acknowledges a jury may find there is not enough evidence to convict Xie.
December 19, 2012
Xie is committed to stand trial
December 20, 2012
Xie is granted bail by local court magistrate John Andrews, who says the Crown case is not strong. Andrews noted that the prosecution was unable to establish a clear motive for the crimes.
December 24, 2012
Xie is denied bail by Justice Stephen Rothman.
Trial 1 (2013) was abandoned to enable new evidence to be taken in.
October 13, 2014
Xie is again refused bail.
Trial 2 (2014) was abandoned when the judge became ill.
Trial 3 (2015) ended with a hung jury (majority voting not guilty.)
December 8, 2015
Xie is granted bail, after spending four years and seven months in jail without a conviction.
June 29, 2016
Xie’s fourth trial begins
December 22, 2016
Xie’s bail is revoked
January 12, 2017
Trial 4 (2016-17) ends with a guilty verdict (11-1).
February 13, 2017
Xie is sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
June 22 – July 1, 2020
Court of Criminal Appeal hears appeal against the conviction
February 15, 2021
Xie’s appeal dismissed on all 8 grounds
* Alibi – on the night, Robert was on his computer till 2am (uncontested fact), and in bed next to his wife after 2am; she told police two days after the murders (before Robert was a suspect) and confirmed it under oath.
At the trial, the prosecution tried to negate the alibi, claiming he had admitted to sedating his wife in covert recordings with Witness A, a police informant in jail, but the judge was not satisfied about that evidence beyond reasonable doubt; yet she failed to direct the jury they must acquit if they entertained just a reasonable possibility of Kathy Lin’s evidence being true. In the summing up, Her Honour repeatedly attacked Kathy Lin’s reliability as a witness, but failed to point out that even an unreliable witness can be telling the truth.
Kathy Lin loved her family. She knows her husband didn’t murder them.
* Time of death – Crown opening: “The Crown does not know exactly what time it was that the murders occurred, but our case is that it must have occurred after 2 o’clock in the morning, because you will hear that it is accepted that the accused had been at home with his wife using the internet until around this time.” That is circular reasoning. The time of the murders (after 2am) is entirely speculative and cannot be the basis of the accusation.
Thus Xie was required to prove that he was not at the scene of the crime at a time to suit the prosecution’s case (after 2am). That argument ensnared the trial judge to permit the crown to prosecute its case, which reverses the onus of proof.
Crown witness forensic pathologist Dr Rebecca Irvine agreed with defence counsel that Min could well have been killed any time between 10pm or so (when he arrived home) and 2am.
Based on evidence, the time of death for all five deceased is somewhere between 7:30pm on July 17, 2009 and 4:30am on July 18. There is a 7 hour ‘window of opportunity’ before 2:30 and a 2 hour ‘window of opportunity’ after 2:30am.
Putting all the data together, the chances of all five victims having been killed after 2:30am – is less than 1%.
* Autopsies – distended bladders contradict prosecution speculation about time of death for at least two of the victims. Terry Lin had eaten a snack less than 40 minutes before he was killed. His body was moved by person unknown more than 2 hours after being killed. Severity of the victims’ injuries revealed in the autopsies suggest at least two weapons used, and at least two assailants.
* DNA – a tiny ‘stain’ containing DNA found on Xie’s garage floor 300 metres from the Lin family home, was presented as key probative evidence by the prosecution, international expert included. It contained a mixture of DNA from the deceased – except that of Lily Lin. The stain did not contain the DNA of Robert Xie. It could not be established when or how it was deposited. There was no DNA found on Xie or his clothing that linked him to the crime.
* Shoe prints at the crime scene, in blood, were laid down some time (perhaps hours) after the victims were killed.
* Reasonable alternative hypothesis – the prosecution accepted by implication and failed to negate a reasonable alternative hypothesis – involving several killers and weapons. It being a circumstantial case, the accused cannot be convicted if a reasonable hypothesis is available.
AFTER TRIAL – THE APPEAL
* Alibi – Xie claimed (in Ground 6 of 8 Grounds) that the trial judge’s summary of the alibi evidence contained material factual inaccuracies. In her directing the jury about a covert recording the prosecution claimed showed Xie agreeing with a proposition about his sedating his wife, the judge’s reading of the transcript put the prosecution case on a much firmer basis than the evidence warranted.
The appeal was dismissed.
And the killers are free.