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When Justice Elizabeth Fullerton and Robert Xie saw each other, it was usually when the judge was sitting at the grand, elevated bench, and he was below her in the dock.

So it must have come as quite a surprise when Justice Fullerton saw Xie walking along Elizabeth Street during an adjournment in the final weeks of his murder trial.

Lian Bin 'Robert' Xie was arrested almost two years after the Lin family deaths image www.crimefiles.net

Lian Bin ‘Robert’ Xie was arrested almost two years after the Lin family deaths

Justice Fullerton raised the sighting in court and the defence explained that Xie had become locked in the downstairs hallways while going to the toilet, and had to take the Elizabeth Street exit.

The judge accepted the explanation.

The dark, labyrinth-like corridor below the courts in the historic King Street complex is painted in public hospital pastels.

It leads to toilets, mediation rooms and old cells with imposing metal bars, then to court number 5 and out onto Elizabeth Street, across from the shiny facade of David Jones department store.

Xie was on bail during the course of his trial, and while his being on the street in court hours was perhaps unusual, it was not in breach of his conditions.

It is standard practice for accused people on bail to use abundant caution and stay within the court building during a trial so they don’t come into contact with anyone involved in the proceedings.

Guilty Robert Xie arrives at the NSW Supreme Court image www.crimefiles.net

Xie’s bail was revoked on December 22 in a decision unrelated to the incident, but in anticipation of the jury retiring to consider its verdict.

When the trial resumed after Christmas for the end of the judge’s summary, defence barrister Robert Webb asked for Xie to have access to fresh fruit and vegetables.

Justice Elizabeth Fullerton, who presided over Robert Xie's trial. image www.crimefiles.net

Mr Webb produced a medical certificate and said the prison diet was aggravating a possible stomach ulcer.

Though Xie was charged with five murders, he was granted bail in late 2015, after the jury in his third trial could not reach a verdict.

Justice Fullerton noted that being in custody for more than 4½ years without a conviction had taken a heavy toll on Xie’s mental wellbeing.

“For an accused person to remain in custody for five years or more is impossible to view as fair and commensurate with a fair and just criminal process,” she said at the time.

Xie was found guilty of five counts of murder in the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday.

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