THE man accused of murdering five members of the Lin family in North Epping three years ago made a last-ditch bid on Wednesday to be released on bail in time for Christmas, despite a magistrate ordering that he must stand trial. The decision by the magistrate, John Andrews, to commit Robert Xie to trial for the 2009 deaths was less than an hour old on Wednesday when the 48-year-old's lawyer was on his feet declaring the prosecution case ''fanciful''.
Solicitor Lester Fernandez told the court that Mr Xie, a former Melbourne restaurateur and successful investor, could offer securities totalling $900,000 if granted bail and would be willing to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.
''He's going to be more closely watched than just about anyone else in the state of NSW,'' Mr Fernandez said.
''He is doing everything he possibly can to demonstrate that he will appear before this court [if granted bail].''
The primary basis of Mr Fernandez's argument that Mr Xie had established the ''exceptional circumstances'' required to be granted bail was that the prosecution case against him was unusually weak.
In making this case he drew on some of the reservations expressed by the magistrate in committing Mr Xie to trial.
Mr Andrews had noted that the prosecution had described the murder of Mr Xie's brother-in-law, Min ''Norman'' Lin and four members of his family, bludgeoned and strangled in their beds, as a crime of extreme violence and personal hatred but was unable to establish a clear motive for the crimes.
''It was effectively conceded by the prosecutor that there was no evidence of motive.
''On the contrary, the evidence indicates a very close relationship between the families.''
He also noted that there were weaknesses in the DNA evidence from a spot of blood found on Mr Xie's garage floor.
The prosecution said it contained a mix of at least three different kinds of blood, at least one of which had virtually identical characteristics to one of the victims.
But the court has heard that the female DNA contained within the sample may not have matched the two female victims of the murders.
''There is no doubt that the total exclusion of Lily [Lin] and Irene [Lin] as major contributors puts the prosecution case based on DNA evidence in a different light, and makes it a weaker prosecution case,'' Mr Andrews had said.
The Crown prosecutor, Mark Tedeschi, conceded that the prosecution case ''may not be an overwhelming one''.
But he countered that the magistrate had nonetheless found it a case that was capable of convincing a jury that Mr Xie was guilty.
He said that Mr Xie's significant connections to China and substantial investments there made him a serious flight risk.
''He is a man facing five charges of murder who, to put it bluntly, would almost certainly face a life sentence if convicted.''
Mr Andrews will give his decision on Thursday afternoon.