Thursday, May 5, 2011


I spent a bit of time as a teenager and twenty-something in the north-western Sydney suburb of North Epping. This was during the late 80s and early 90s. I had some good friends there; there were parties, laughs, drinks, grand days of dreaming and wondering. I walked in the forested edges of the suburb searching for owls and a spirituality often lost in suburbia.

North Epping has always been a still, leafy, expansive suburb filled with big, predicatable homes (that sell for over $800, 000) where wholesome families can live secure lives. It is a place of educated professionals with good money who drive everywhere. Most residents are Roman Catholics. There are a fair number of Hong Kong Chinese, Koreans and Indians in the area. Former Australian prime minister, John Howard, used to be the local member for the district. Everything about North Epping speaks of opportunity, opulence, solace, impeccability, safety and maybe, just maybe, grace.

In 2009, five members of a local Chinese family, the Lins, who owned a Newsagency in Epping, were bashed to death, seemingly as they slept: a mother, a father, two of their three kids (the third child, who attended Cheltenham Girls High School, was in New Calendonia on a school excursion at the time), and the wife's sister. Like so many, I was stunned and sickened when I heard this news.

Yesterday, police arrested the 47 yr old brother-in-law of Mr Lin, a Robert Xie, in connection with the murders. Apparently, he was stoic and didn't resist arrest when the police got him. That seems like the actions of a man who was expecting their arrival; perhaps, a man who knew, one day, his luck would end. Forensics and circumstance were his undoing. The facts are still coming out. What's harrowing, is Robert had taken his niece under his wing since her immediate family's death. He and his wife had also taken over the family's newsagency. They all lived within a kilometre of where the Lin family were executed.

North Epping never seemed a place that would court calculation, morbidity and murder direct from Shakespeare's page.

LJ, May 6 2011.

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