A Sydney grandmother who lost five members of her family in a multiple homicide in 2009 has sobbed uncontrollably in court after expressing regret that she did not insist that her grandson stay with her on the night he was murdered.
"Can you stop mentioning Henry please?" Feng Qin Zhu exclaimed as she gave evidence in the Supreme Court murder trial of her son-in-law, Lian Bin "Robert" Xie on Thursday.
"It reminds me that if I had insisted that he stay with me that night he wouldn't have been killed."
So distraught was Mrs Zhu that Justice Peter Johnson elected to take an early break in the court proceedings. The grandmother, who walks with a cane, was helped from the court, wailing.
Mr Xie, 50, is accused of murdering his brother-in-law, Min "Norman" Lin, his sister-in-law, Lily Lin, their two young 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, Mrs Zhu.
The night before the murders, Min, Henry and Terry took part in a family dinner hosted by Mrs Zhu and her husband.
Mrs Zhu had asked her grandson, Henry, to stay over that night, but he insisted in returning home, saying that he wanted to practice badminton the next day with "Uncle Robert" - the man who is now accused of murdering him.
Before her breakdown in court, Mrs Zhu said she had told police good things about her relationship with Mr Xie because she didn't want to reveal her family's "disgraces".
"In Chinese culture you don't make family disgraces public," Mrs Zhu said, referring to arguments she had had with her daughter and Mr Xie in the lead up to the murders.
"I said many good things about Robert - I didn't want the police to know the disgraces that happened in our family."
However, Mrs Zhu said later that Mr Xie had only once been angry with her or her husband prior to the murders.
The trial continues.