SYDNEY - A former surgeon who bludgeoned to death five relatives with a "hammer-like object" was jailed for life yesterday for one of Australia's most ferocious killings.
Chinese-born ear, nose and throat specialist Robert Xie repeatedly clubbed two children and three adults on the heads and faces as they slept in their home in 2009, hitting one 18 times.
The 53-year-old, who emigrated from China 15 years ago, was told he would die in jail for the murders of his brother-in-law Norman Lin and his family.
Justice Elizabeth Fullerton told the court that Xie's horrific slaying of the five - including one as young as nine - showed "resolve... to persist with the infliction of extreme violence".
It was a "single episode of brutal and calculated murderous violence (and) a course of offending that can only be described as heinous in the extreme," she said.
"There was a discernible pattern in the shape and contour of many of the blunt force injuries on the heads and faces of the victims."
Prosecutors said Xie, who had a key to the home, was motivated by bitterness linked to his perceived lowly standing with the family.
Xie and his wife Kathy Lin - Mr Norman Lin's sister - alerted the police to the bodies, leading to investigations spanning Australia and China.
He was charged in 2011.
Xie, who was given five life sentences without possibility of parole, maintains his innocence and is supported by his wife.
"He is a loving and caring family man," Ms Kathy Lin told reporters outside court. "He was wrongly charged with a crime he did not commit. He is a scapegoat.
"We need people to support us to correct this miscarriage of justice... to bring him home," she said, adding that Xie will appeal.