A 12-year-old boy who was allegedly beaten and strangled to death by his uncle, along with four members of his family, admired and regularly played badminton with the man accused of murdering him, a court has heard.
Henry Lin, who aspired to play badminton for Australia by the time he was 25, was murdered in the early hours of July 18, 2009, along with his mother, father, younger brother and aunt in their North Epping home.
His uncle, Lian Bin ''Robert'' Xie, is accused of the murders. He has pleaded not guilty.
Mr Xie cried in the NSW Supreme Court on Wednesday as Henry Lin's former friend and badminton coach described how the boy regularly played the sport with him.
''Did you know that he would practice hard with his uncle Robert?'' Mr Xie's barrister, Graham Turnbull, SC, asked the young woman, who cannot be named because of her age.
''Yes,'' she replied.
''Is it fair to say he talked about his uncle Robert a lot?'' Mr Turnbull continued.
''Yes,'' the woman said.
''He respected Robert's ability and wanted to learn from him?''
''Yes, he did.''
The prosecution alleges that, motivated by ''bitterness'' over a ''loss of face'' in relation to his in-laws, Mr Xie crept into their home on that Saturday morning and murdered the family with a hammer-like object as they slept in their beds.
Henry Lin reportedly remained alive for more than an hour after the attack, which also claimed the life of his nine-year-old brother Terry.
Mr Xie asserts that, far from wanting to kill his in-laws and their children, he had a very close and loving relationship with them. This allegedly included regularly taking Henry and Terry to badminton lessons and playing with them in his garage.
On Wednesday, a woman who lived near the Lin's Boundary Road home, Pamela Burgess, described hearing two loud shouts some time before midnight on the night in question.
''Our neighbours fight quite a lot so initially I thought it was that, but this was different,'' Ms Burgess said.
''It was a male voice ... but I couldn't hear what the words were. I said to [my husband] 'Nigel, there's someone shouting out there.' ''
The court heard that the next morning local residents began calling and arriving at the Epping newsagency owned by Mr Xie's brother-in-law, Min ''Norman'' Lin, asking why their newspapers hadn't arrived.
Eventually, a man who had previously worked at the newsagency, Jie ''Jimmy'' Hua, managed to get in contact with the dead man's sister, Kathy Lin, who is also Robert Xie's wife.
''She said she was standing outside his house but no one was answering the door,'' Mr Hua said.
''She said she would call me as soon as she heard something.''
The trial, before Justice Peter Johnson, continues.