In the months before five members of a Chinese-Australian family were killed in their beds, the family patriarch came to believe that his daughter-in-law was having a secret extra-marital affair, a Sydney court has heard.
The evidence came on the 10th day of the trial of Lian Bin “Robert” Xie in the NSW Supreme Court.
Mr Xie, 50, is accused of murdering his brother-in-law, Min “Norman” Lin, his sister-in-law, Lily Lin, their two sons Henry and Terry, and the boy’s aunt, Irene in the early hours of July 18, 2009.
It is the Crown case that Mr Xie crept into the Lin family’s home on Boundary Road, North Epping, and murdered them because he felt his brother and sister-in-law were being unfairly favoured by the family patriarch Yang Fei Lin, and his wife.
But on Thursday the court heard that another source of tension within the family may have arisen after Yang Fei Lin read Lily Lin’s diary in late 2008.
A number of diary entries referred to a man named "Rob" for whom Lily had apparently developed strong feelings while working in a pyramid selling scheme. The court heard this was not a reference to Robert Xie.
"Having been trained by Rob these years and lived with him together, made me a lot more familiar with him," Lily Lin said in the diary entry.
"Meanwhile a sense of dependence and feelings towards him. I hate to part with him. I like him. He made my life full of colour and ups and downs. I would never feel lonely and bored. I am used to his existence."
The court heard that, upon discovering this entry, Mr Lin snr photocopied the pages and then confronted his daughter-in-law, who tore them out of the diary and threw them in the bin.
"There are no extra-marital affairs in this family," Mr Lin snr allegedly told his daughter-in-law.
"If you want to do this, get a divorce and do this properly - we will let you go."
According to Mr Lin snr, Lily replied "I'm sorry, I'm sorry ... I like my family, they are very good to me" and promised not to see the man any more.
Mr Lin snr reportedly accepted this promise and pledged not to tell the woman's husband or anyone else about what he had found.
The court heard that, from about this time, Lily's attendance at the family's regular Friday night dinners dropped off significantly, and that she missed a number of family birthdays.
Mr Lin snr said Lily's failure to attend the gatherings was partly because she was working at the family's newsagency.
Later, Mr Lin recalled the morning after the murders when Mr Xie had called him and said ‘‘Daddy, something huge has happened to brother Lin’s family’’.
‘‘The house was surrounded by police ... ambulance and police had set up a circle preventing us from entering,’’ he said.
‘‘I felt that it must have been really, really serious and I just felt like the sky would collapse.
‘‘I just felt like I was being stabbed in the heart.’’
Mr Xie sat crying in the dock as his father-in-law recalled the events.
The trial continues.