A bitter inheritance and guardianship dispute erupted in the aftermath of the 2009 Lin family murders, a Sydney court has heard, with the accused murderer allegedly ordering his parents-in-law out of his home.
As the continuing trial of Lian Bin ''Robert'' Xie for the murder of five members of his brother-in-law's family entered its 11th day, the NSW Supreme Court heard about the virtual breakdown of the relationship between Mr Xie and his wife on one hand, and his parents-in-law on the other, after the tragedy.
At the centre of the dispute, the court heard, was the battle over control of the Epping newsagency owned by the father of the murdered family, Min ''Norman'' Lin. Equally divisive was a disagreement over the guardianship of a teenager, who cannot be identified for legal reasons.
During cross-examination of Mr Xie's father-in-law, Yang Fei Lin, it emerged that, as the inheritance and guardianship dispute intensified, Mr Xie told the elderly man and his wife to leave his North Epping home.
''He said, 'I wanted you to move out a long time ago','' Mr Lin snr told the court. ''He even asked his parents to ask us to move out.''
However, the court also heard that Mr Lin snr threatened to tell police that Mr Xie was the murderer if he and his wife did not agree to his demands on the guardianship issue. Mr Lin snr denied this.
Mr Lin snr also told the court that, a few months after the tragedy, Mr Xie approached the proprietors of two major Sydney newspapers, including The Sydney Morning Herald, to inquire about taking over the newsagency's newspaper delivery operations.
''We were already running the newsagency - we didn't need him to interfere,'' Mr Lin snr said, speaking through an interpreter during his third day of cross-examination.
''His purpose was to take over the newsagency - himself and [his wife] Kathy Lin. Before [a court ordered] the newsagency to be taken over by Kathy and Robert in September 2009, we had run the newsagency ourselves.''
But Mr Xie's barrister, Graham Turnbull, SC, said his client's only interest was ensuring that the newsagency continued to operate.
He said that there was evidence Min Lin's estate had significant financial liabilities and that the newsagency needed to reopen to ensure it maintained public goodwill.
''You thought there was $1 million to $2 million worth of assets, but they were telling you he was heavily in debt. Isn't that the case?" Mr Turnbull said. Mr Lin snr denied this was the case.
''Kathy and Robert said: 'We'll take responsibility for getting the newsagency back on its feet,' '' Mr Turnbull said.
''It was already back on its feet,'' Mr Lin snr replied.
The trial continues.