SYDNEY – A Singaporean businessman, Ban Ah Ping, was sentenced to life in prison in Australia on Thursday (Nov 22) after murdering his former wife and stuffing her body in a suitcase before dumping it in the Swan River in Perth.
The couple’s 27-year-old daughter, Tiffany Wan, was acquitted of murder but jailed for four years and 10 months for attempting to cover up the crime.
Ban, now 69, flew from Singapore to Perth on June 30, 2016, then bashed his 58-year-old former wife Annabelle Chen to death at her home. Two fishermen found the remains of her half-naked body in a suitcase floating down the river two days later.
Justice Joseph McGrath of the Western Australia Supreme Court said Ban had shown no remorse for the crime, and jailed him for life, with a minimum of 20 years in prison.
The judge said Ban showed “callous indifference” to the body of his former wife and then engaged in “orchestrated lies over an extended period” to try to cover up the crime.
Ban, who divorced Ms Chen in 2000, pleaded not guilty but was convicted after a three-week jury trial earlier this year. He and his daughter turned on each other during the trial, blaming the other for the murder and claiming they were each only accomplices.
The jury spent four days deliberating and found Ban guilty of murder and Wan was an accessory after the fact.
Ban had wanted to attend his daughter’s university graduation in Melbourne and had flown to Perth to reveal to his former wife that – despite her wishes – he had been secretly in touch with Wan for several years.
During an argument on the upper floor of Ms Chen’s home, he struck her on the head with a “blunt instrument”. She had 25 head injuries when she died.
Wan, who had been downstairs during the attack, later claimed her father said he hit Ms Chen with an iron paperweight during an argument about money.
After Ban dumped the body, he and his daughter returned to their homes in Singapore and Melbourne. Wan helped to wash her father’s clothes and remove footprints from the home. She continued to send text messages to her mother’s phone and reported her missing only two months after the murder.
Wan’s lawyer, Mr Simon Freitag, told the court she was not present when the body was dumped and had lied to protect her father.
Justice McGrath said Wan had repeatedly lied to police, family and friends over a “protracted and sustained period of time” and that she appeared to be motivated by “a daughter’s misguided loyalty to her father”.
“You told persistent lies to the police… You knew your mother was dead,” the judge said.
Ban’s lawyer, Mr David Brustman, said there was no evidence that his client flew to Australia with any murderous intent.
Justice McGrath accepted that Ban’s age meant that he would face challenges in prison as he grew older, and had no real chance of a “reasonable life after his release”. He said to Ban: “You had full appreciation of what was occurring… You appear to have shown no remorse at any time.”
Outside court, Mr Freitag told reporters: “The matter is now resolved, Tiffany would like to get on with her life.”