The sole survivor of one of Australia's worst family murders has spoken about how her grief was compounded when she inadvertently moved in with - and was sexually abused by - her parents' killer.

Brenda Lin refused to believe her uncle, Robert Xie, could have slaughtered her mum, dad, aunt and two brothers.

"There are bad people in the world, but your family's not one of them. I knew he didn't do it because he's family," she said on Channel 7's Sunday Night.

But Ms Lin's high-school principal said she was suspicious when she witnessed Xie, 53, bringing her pupil to tears following the deaths. She "just got a gut feeling he was dangerous".


Breaking down, Ms Lin said she would "give anything" to have her loving family back.

Ms Lin was on a school trip to New Caledonia when her uncle executed a bloody and brutal massacre in the dead of night in July, 2009.

Earlier this month, Xie, 53, was sentenced to five life sentences for the murders. He will never be released from jail.

After three years of hearings, and four Supreme Court trials, Xie was found guilty of murdering his brother-in-law Norman Min Lin, 45; Mr Lin's wife Yun Li Lily Lin, 43; her sister Irene Yin Yun Bin, 39; and the Lins' two young boys Henry, 12, and Terry, 9.

He let himself into their North Epping home and bashed them to death with a hammer-like object.

The killings were so efficient that most of the family members died within moments as they slept. That is apart from the youngest, Terry, who is thought to have been aware of his killer and may have struggled, given the sheer amount of blows the child received.

The court was told police were greeted by a scene, "awash with blood".

The Crown said Xie was fuelled by jealousy of the Lin family. They ran a successful newsagency, but Xie's business ventures had ended in failure. He was angry about what he perceived as his lowly status within the family.


However, another motive raised by the Crown was that he deliberately picked a time when Ms Lin would be away so, with her family gone, he could sexually abuse her once she was under his roof.

Ms Lin told Sunday Night's Melissa Doyle that she is still racked by the pain of not telling her father how much she treasured him the last time they were together.

Robert Xie. Photo / via Channel 7
Robert Xie. Photo / via Channel 7

At the school gates, before her trip away, other kids were hugging their parents.

"A lot of them were in tears and I was trying to be [a] cool teenager, and was thinking, 'You know, you guys are just being ridiculous'.

"So, my dad stood next to me and we sort of stood there awkwardly," she said.

"And that's the last time I saw him. ... I didn't get to say thank you for being an amazing father or ... tell him I loved him".

Her mum was "very, very loving," she said. Henry was someone everyone automatically wanted to be friends with and Terry would follow his "big, bossy sister," around everywhere.

News of the deaths broke when Ms Lin was overseas. A friend sent her a link to the story.

"It had a photo of my house. I didn't believe it. [I said] that's not possible. It's someone else."

She quickly returned to Australia.

"As soon as I saw my aunt, she was crying as well. That's when I knew it was all real."

Ms Lin - having nowhere else to go - moved into the Xie family home.

Far from a sanctuary from the pain, the horror only got worse. She told the NSW Supreme Court trial that Xie sexually assaulted her on a number of occasions when she moved in.

She also gave evidence of instances of inappropriate touching before the killings.
Susan Bridge, her high-school principal, saw Xie at the school with Ms Lin and could sense something was not right. She eventually persuaded her to get a lawyer.

"He was so physically close to her, speaking loudly, rapidly in Chinese.

"Brenda, with her head down, tears falling down. It was clear that he was trying to get her to agree to something.

"I told my husband, I think I've spent all day with a murderer. I just got a gut feeling he was dangerous and I was very worried for Brenda's safety," she said.

"How did she know?" said Ms Lin, who at the time still couldn't see why he would do such a crime.

"He was definitely not a murderer in my eyes. He was just an uncle, a family guy."

"You're brought up being told that your family are amazing people," she told Doyle.

"There are bad people in the world but your family's definitely not one of them." Xie was "someone that I trusted".

Eventually, police moved in on Xie.

"He was surprised to have the police arrive at his door. It was an absolute shock," Ms Lin said.

She no longer looks up to her uncle. But facing up to what he did to her, even after he killed her family, is still raw and hard.

Asked if she was sexually abused by her uncle, she told Doyle: "Yes, he did. It's something that at this point I haven't quite processed properly."

And his desire to continue that abuse being one of the reasons behind the murders?

"I did think, is something like this enough to kill five people? I don't think I ever will be sure why he did what he did."

Ms Lin fought back tears, "I'd give anything to have my family back."

Kathy Lin, Ms Lin's aunt and Xie's wife, is sticking by her husband.

"She used to send me messages saying that he was innocent, he was being framed by the police," said Ms Lin.

"I hope, one day, she can realise that all I did was tell the truth.

"She's better off not with him."

At Xie's sentencing, Justice Elizabeth Fullerton praised Ms Lin.

"I acknowledge the profound grief she has suffered and continues to suffer. I also commend her for her strength and dignity, and her courage as she faces the future without parents, siblings or a loving aunt."