‘Body in suitcase’ ex-husband found guilty of murder

Annabelle Chen.
Annabelle Chen.

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, and the victim’s daughter has been convicted of being an accessory.

Tiffany Yiting Wan, 25, and her father, Ah Ping Ban, 65, stood trial in the West Australian Supreme Court accused of murdering 58-year-old Annabelle Chen at her Mosman Park home in 2016.

The jury began deliberating on Friday afternoon and returned their verdicts on Thursday afternoon.

Ban appeared emotionless when the verdict was handed down, while Wan cried as she learnt she had been acquitted of murder.

The pair had blamed each other for Ms Chen’s death and claimed they were the accessory.

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.

But 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.

Wan, who was 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 on the stand 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 said 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.

One of the young fishermen who found Ms Chen’s body in the river on July 2, Alex Sambell, testified he saw a foot poking out of the suitcase when his friend gave it a shake.

Mr Sambell 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.

Wan and Ban will face a sentencing hearing on November 22.