The ex-husband of a woman whose body was found stuffed in a suitcase in Perth’s Swan River has been found guilty of her murder, while the victim’s daughter has been convicted of attempting to cover it up.
Tiffany Yiting Wan, 27, and her father Ah Ping Ban, 67, stood trial in the West n Supreme Court accused of murdering 58-year-old Annabelle Chen at her Mosman Park home in 2016.
The jury returned their verdicts on Thursday afternoon after deliberating for about four days, with Wan convicted of the lesser charge of being an accessory.
Ban appeared emotionless, while Wan cried as she learnt she had been acquitted of murder.
The pair had blamed each other for Ms Chen’s death.
Ban had claimed Ms Chen was already dead when he arrived in Perth from Singapore on June 30 and he only helped dispose of the body at the Fremantle Traffic Bridge.
But Wan testified she heard Ms Chen scream and a “loud metallic thud” sound, then her father later confessed to accidentally killing his former wife with a cast-iron paperweight.
Wan, who has been living in Melbourne, cried several times during the trial, including when the court was shown X-ray images of her mother’s head injuries, and while she was giving evidence.
She admitted lying in her police statement, as well as sending Ms Chen messages after she knew her mother was dead.
“I didn’t get to talk to her before she passed away and I guess I had trouble accepting the whole thing.”
She also told the jury her father had some business associates who were chasing him for money and he had asked Ms Chen for cash but she refused.
Wan later gave him a total of $138,000.
Alex Sambell, one of the young fishermen who found Ms Chen’s body in the river on July 2, 2016, testified he saw a foot poking out of the suitcase when his friend gave it a shake.
He said he could also smell a strong odour coming from the suitcase and when they realised there was a body inside, they rushed it to police.
Ms Chen’s identity remained a mystery for two months until Wan reported her missing, but police recovered a scooter that had a board attached to it and distinctive ceramic tiles.
Wan and Ban will face a sentencing hearing on November 22.
Outside court, Wan’s lawyer Simon Freitag acknowledged it had been a difficult time for his client.
“It’s been a very emotional experience for her and for everybody involved,” he said.