Body-in-suitcase verdict: Jury finds man guilty of ex-wife's murder
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Body-in-suitcase verdict: Jury finds man guilty of ex-wife's murder

After four days deliberating a case where both defendants blamed one another, a WA Supreme Court jury has found a man guilty of murdering his ex-wife and dumping her body in a suitcase in the Swan River.

His daughter avoided a murder conviction and was found to be only an accessory to the crime.

Ah Ping Ban, 65, and his daughter Tiffany Yiting Wan, 25, both stood trial in the WA Supreme Court last month accused of murdering 58-year-old Annabelle Chen, who was bludgeoned to death at her Mosman Park home in 2016.

Ah Ping Ban and his daughter Tiffany Yiting Wan stood trial in the WA Supreme Court, accused of murdering Annabelle Chen.

Ah Ping Ban and his daughter Tiffany Yiting Wan stood trial in the WA Supreme Court, accused of murdering Annabelle Chen.

Photo: 9 News/Supplied

Her body was found stuffed in a suitcase and floating in the Swan River several days later.

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The jury retired to consider their verdicts on Friday afternoon, returning on Thursday to deliver their verdicts.

The court was packed full of police officers, media and interested members of the public as the verdicts were handed down.

Ban and Wan showed very little emotion as the verdicts were read, although Wan appeared to be fighting back tears in the dock.

Ban, who wore a smart suit and tie for the duration of the trial, stared at his daughter for several seconds as he sat down in the dock after the jury found him guilty.

He spoke briefly with his lawyer before being led away.

The pair have both been remanded in custody and will be sentenced on November 22.

Wan’s lawyer Simon Freitag spoke briefly with the media as he left court.

“Sentencing is coming up in November it’s important we focus on that,” he said.

Wan’s lawyer Simon Freitag.

Wan’s lawyer Simon Freitag.

Photo: Phil Hickey

“It’s been a very emotional experience for her and everyone involved.”

Body-in-the-suitcase mystery

Ms Chen was found dumped in a suitcase in the Swan River by two fishermen on July 2, 2016.

A post-mortem found she had sustained 25 blunt-force injuries to her head and face and had sustained a fractured skull.

Prosecutors had alleged both Ban and Wan "acted together in the murder" of Ms Chen.

It had been alleged the murder was carried out in the bedroom of Ms Chen's Mosman Park home.

The father and daughter both blamed each other for the murder and each claimed they were only an accessory.

On the opening day of the trial prosecutors conceded the case against the pair was "circumstantial" and that no motive for the murder had been established.

Prosecutor Justin Whalley said both Ban and Wan initially told police they last saw Ms Chen leave her Mosman Park home on June 30 with a man in a white sedan.

Prosecutor Justin Whalley leaves the court after the verdict.

Prosecutor Justin Whalley leaves the court after the verdict.

Photo: Phil Hickey

"They acted together in the murder of Annabelle Chen," Mr Whalley said on the opening day of the trial.

"Their individual involvement in the cover up was of such a nature and such a degree that the only reasonable inference to be drawn from it was that each was responsible."

Father, daughter blame each other

Both Ban and Wan gave evidence during the trial.

Ban had claimed he and his daughter disposed of Ms Chen's body in the Swan River, only after he was confronted with a "horrible scenario" once her arrived in Perth on June 30 via Singapore.

That scenario, he claimed, involved an argument between his daughter and ex-wife on June 27 or 28 at her home, which resulted in her death.

"She (Tiffany) dragged me into this situation," Mr Ban testified.

Wan's defence lawyer Simon Freitag put it to Mr Ban in the witness stand that he "could take responsibility" for what he had done and that he had killed Ms Chen in the bedroom of her home.

"That is not true sir ... I wouldn't do that," Ban responded.

"I didn't kill Annabelle, that is a true fact."

During a heated cross-examination by Ban's defence counsel David Brustman last week, Wan denied being an emotional or aggressive person.

She described Mr Brustman's line of questioning as "exciting" before correcting herself.

"Your line of questioning is quite sensational," she said.

Wan insisted she would never hurt her mother, rejecting claims she painted over a wall in Ms Chen's bedroom to conceal the crime or that she begged her father for help.

Mr Brustman put several other propositions to Wan but she repeatedly said his allegations were ludicrous and untrue.

"That whole scenario is ridiculous and did not happen," she said.

Wan cried in the witness box when she admitted sending Ms Chen messages after she knew her mother was dead, saying she had "trouble accepting the whole thing", and also admitted lying in her police statement.

Phil is a Fairfax Media journalist based in Western Australia and covers court, crime and police