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Orphaned schoolgirl

left with murder suspect

BY MELISSA DAVEY AND NICK RALSTON
06 May, 2011 06:49 AM
Homicide detectives had no choice but to allow an orphaned schoolgirl to live with her uncle for about 15 months after they believed he had slain her family.Yesterday, after Robert Xie, 47, was arrested over the five murders, the officer in charge of the investigation revealed that Xie had emerged as the prime suspect about six months after the slayings, in July 2009. But without sufficient evidence to charge him, the girl remained in his care. 

”We had that real delicate situation where she was living with him and we couldn’t confide in her,” Detective Inspector Chris Olen said. ”That was the difficulty in having someone very, very close to him but not having sufficient evidence to make an arrest.”

Xie’s ”fondness” for his niece and the fact that she had been overseas when her family was killed led them to believe she was safe in the home of Xie and his wife, Kathy Lin, who was not a suspect, Inspector Olsen said.

The schoolgirl’s parents – Min ”Norman” Lin, 45, and Yun Li ”Lily” Lin, 43 – her brothers aged 9 and 12, and an aunt, Yun Bin ”Irene” Yin, 39, were found dead in their home in Boundary Road, North Epping, on July 18, 2009. The high school student, who was 15 at the time, was on a study trip to New Caledonia.

The brutal slayings sparked one of the largest homicide investigations in NSW history, with inquiries extending to China.

There was a breakthrough last May when significant forensic evidence – not a weapon – was found at Xie’s home. Testing took ”a number of months”, Inspector Olen said.

The homicide squad commander Peter Cotter said Xie was surprised but ”quite stoic” yesterday morning when officers arrested him at his home in Beck Street, North Epping, a couple of hundred metres from the house where he is alleged to have committed the crimes.

Superintendent Cotter said the police were ”very confident that this person acted alone and we are very confident that today we have our man”.

”To have two people commit such an act, to have two people with meeting of the minds to complete those actions is beyond anyone’s wildest dreams,” he said.

Mr Lin operated a highly successful newsagency near Epping railway station. Xie, who had been a successful ear, nose and throat specialist in China, had struggled to establish himself in Australia. He and his wife took over the running of the newsagency after the deaths.

Superintendent Cotter said, ”It’s a very primeval act, in my opinion, and I think it’s got to have its origin in greed and jealousy and, probably in modern-day terms, that equates somewhere along the line to money.”

He said the young boys might not have been intended victims. ”There is some evidence that the two boys might have woken and there might have been some interaction between the accused person and the two boys,” he said.

Superintendent Cotter said the girl was ”surprised” when told of her uncle’s arrest. She, Xie’s wife and Xie’s young son were being well cared for, he said.

Xie did not appear at Parramatta Local Court when he was charged. He did not apply for bail and will face Central Local Court on July 1.

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