Man’s Google search before killing
A Chinese man with a history of "strong violence" who murdered his housemate in their Sydney flat had Google searched "How would homicide be sentenced in Australia" before the killing, court documents reveal.
Shuo Dong, 21, has pleaded guilty in the NSW Supreme Court to murdering 28-year-old Qi "Kathy" Yu in Campsie on June 8, 2018.
Forty-seven days after her disappearance, Ms Yu's body was found wrapped up and dumped on the side of the M1 motorway near Mount Kuring-Gai in the city's northwest.
Dong appeared in the dock before Acting Justice Peter Hidden in Sydney today wearing a green bomber jacket and appeared to mumble to himself throughout the sentence hearing.
KILLER'S GOOGLE SEARCH
According to the agreed facts, tendered by crown prosecutor Gareth Harrison on Monday, Dong made a Google search and visited a number of web pages between 3.44pm and 3.52pm on June 6, 2018, "two days before the murder of the deceased".
"A Google search was made for 'How would Homicide be sentenced in Australia'," the facts state.
He then visited the following web pages:
• "Legal knowledge, how many years would intentionally homicide be given in Australia."
• "The sentencing criteria for intentional homicide. What expenses must be compensated for after intentional homicide."
• "What are the characteristics of intentional homicide? And how to properly determine intentional homicide?"
• "Australian Chinese life knowledge, our steps, life and other staff, comparison of underage criminal offence sanction between China and Australia."
Dong was charged with Ms Yu's murder on June 12, 2018 and has been in custody since.
The maximum penalty for murder in NSW is life imprisonment with a standard non-parole period of 25 years.
WHAT HAPPENED THAT NIGHT?
The facts state Dong moved into the downstairs bedroom on May 20, 2018 but soon told Ms Yu, who lived upstairs with their female housemate Jianing Wu, that he wanted to move out.
"The offender was not allowed to go upstairs," the facts state.
He had been due to move out the day of June 9 that year.
Dong killed Ms Yu between 7.16pm and 10pm on June 8.
She had been on the phone to her mum, via the WeChat application, when she sent a message to say there was a power outage at the unit.
"OMG. We're having a power outage ... something is not right, only our household is having a power outage," she said, according to the crown prosecutor's subsmissions.
Ms Yu did not reply to any further messages.
Her parents contacted a neighbour to check on their daughter and Dong answered the door.
"The unit was in darkness, so the neighbour went inside, checked the fuse box and saw that the mains switch had been turned off," the facts state.
"The offender (Dong) had manually turned the switch off. The neighbour turned the switch on and the lights came on. The offender told the neighbour that the deceased was out to dinner."
Their other housemate, Ms Wu, returned home at 8.30pm to find a 13-centimetre "red mark" on the carpet on the stairs.
Police later discovered blood stains on the stairs, wooden floor, in Ms Yu's upstairs bedroom and in the downstairs bathroom.
From 9.33pm that night, Dong "made about 18 searches of different areas around Sydney" including the Royal National Park, St Ives, St Ives Chase, Mount Colah and Berowra.
He dumped Ms Yu's body in a gully between 10pm and 10.30pm and returned to the Campsie unit the next day.
"At 11.42pm and at 6.46am the following morning the offender searched for the address of his friend, whose car he used the following day," the documents state.
Data from Dong's mobile phone, analysed by police, indicated he travelled on the M1 motorway to an area near Ku-Ring-Gai Railway Station on the night Ms Yu disappeared.
Police went to the emergency stopping area on July 25, about 43 kilometres from the Campsie unit, and found Ms Yu's remains "within a short distance of the road".
"The body was lying at the bottom of a gully amongst dead branches and shrubbery," the facts state.
"The bottom half of the body was undressed and exposed, as was most of the torso.
"A long-sleeved business shirt was tied around the deceased's neck."
Dong's DNA was found "on the mid-forearm area of both the sleeves" of the business shirt, considered a "ligature" around Ms Yu's neck, and on two other parts of one of the sleeves.
There was "extensive decomposition" of her remains and her autopsy noted the direct cause of death was "unascertained".
"The extent of the decomposition, with subsequent tissue loss, could mean that underlying injuries which may have been present in the muscles or soft tissue cannot be visualised," the post-mortem report states. It did not exclude "instrumental strangulation".
A HISTORY OF 'STRONG VIOLENCE'
Dong's barrister Nathan Steel tendered a psychiatric report on Monday from Dr Sathish Dalayan who stated the 21-year-old's "history and presentation" suggested intellectual impairment from an early age.
"Based on the limited information available, I am of the opinion, that his psychotic disorder in conjunction with his intellectual impairment probably impacted on his judgement and ability to consider the consequences of his behaviour," Dr Dalayan wrote.
"There is no evidence to suggest that the offending behaviour (Ms Yu's murder) was directly influenced by his psychotic symptoms."
He said Dong's behaviour had been "calculating and obstructive" but he should "still be observed for schizophrenia given his strong violence history".
Dr Dalayan said Dong had told him his parents took him to see a doctor when he was 14.
"They had observed him to be talking as if he was conversing with someone when no one else was around," he wrote.
"On a lot of prompting, he acknowledged that he had been hearing different voices in his head since he was 13."
A translated letter from Dong's mother, Jianfeng Chen, was also handed to the judge including her apology to Ms Yu's family and those affected by the murder.
"Dong's actions have brought you physical pains and mental sufferings and I am sorry and please forgive him," it reads.
It also describes various violent incidents including injuries her son sustained to his head when he was assaulted in his sleep at boarding school, and when he pulled a knife on his father in the year before he moved to Australia.
"He had a dispute with his own father for a trivial matter," Ms Chen wrote.
"At that time, he gritted his teeth and picked up a kitchen knife and cut his father on the arm."
She said Dong "blamed himself deeply" afterwards, saying he "couldn't control himself".
"Since then, he has been withdrawn, so I wanted him to go out and learn the cultural and knowledge in your country," she wrote.
"No one expected that such a thing would have happened just a few months after he was in Australia."
The Crown sought an adjournment for psychiatrist Dr Stephen Allnutt to also prepare a report.
Acting Justice Hidden said he understands Dong will not consent to seeing Dr Allnutt and Mr Steel said his client's position is likely to remain unchanged.
FAMILY'S HEARTBREAKING LETTER
In a three-page letter given to news.com.au at Dong's arraignment in February 2020, the parents of Ms Yu said their family has "collapsed" since their daughter was killed.
They said she had been an intelligent, beautiful, lovely and innocent girl - "the apple of her parents' eye from an early age".
She came to Sydney in 2009 and completed her studies at the University of New South Wales, receiving a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering and a Masters in Telecommunication.
"Her experience from years of Australian life was that Australia was good for everything," her father, Zhihe Yu, said in the letter.
"Good for air, good for food, good for environment and good for others.
"However, there were unexpected storms in the sky. Qi Yu was surrounded by a demon person.
"Our daughter was murdered in cold blood. Nearly 10 years of hard work suddenly ended in vain and a bright future was ruined."
He said his daughter's life had been "destroyed by this devil".
Mr Yu appeared in court on Monday but said he wanted to read his victim impact statement out when more family members could attend proceedings.
The sentence hearing is due to resume before Acting Justice Hidden on August 7.