Killed in a karaoke bar, thrown in a makeshift coffin and dumped in bushland at Mount Ousley - the chilling details surrounding the death of Jun Chen were laid bare at a coroner’s inquest yesterday.
The decomposing body of the 27-year-old Chinese national was discovered wrapped in plastic bags, sandwiched between two pieces of timber and sealed in vinyl and duct tape by a colliery worker close to Mount Ousley Road on August 14, 2009.
Mr Chen, who is believed to have underworld links, was last seen by friends in Sydney on March 1 that year and was reported missing three days later.
Homicide squad Detective Sergeant Peter Rudens yesterday told the inquest that a postmortem examination had found that Mr Chen had died as a result of a stab wound near his right collarbone which had severed his jugular vein.
Early in the investigation, police issued an arrest warrant for Mr Chen’s lawyer, Gary Gold, the last person to see him alive, but the Sydney-based solicitor had left Australia for Hong Kong soon after Mr Chen disappeared.
Mr Gold, a former detective in the Hong Kong police force with links to the feared triad underworld, changed his name to James Wu when he got to Hong Kong and a man by that name had died of a heart attack in May 2009.
Sergeant Rudens said on the night Mr Chen disappeared, he had arranged to meet Mr Gold regarding the whereabouts of $375,000 that Mr Chen had entrusted the lawyer with to make an investment on behalf of his extended family back in China.
He said investigations later discovered that Mr Gold had lost nearly all that amount in one night while gambling at the Star City Casino. Mr Chen had been sent the money by relatives to buy a half share in a Sydney liquor store.
Police recovered CCTV footage of two men believed to be the pair inside a North Sydney karaoke bar from 12.15am to 12.40am on March 2, 2009. At 1.07am, the footage stopped, which the police believed to be due to the power being deliberately cut.
Sergeant Rudens said a subsequent crime scene examination found ‘‘numerous blood stains’’ including a large stain on the dark grey carpet in the club foyer, which had been diluted.
Police also found blood spatter on the wall tiles next to the carpet and blood droplets on the stairwell. The blood was found to be ‘‘consistent with being a child of the parents of the deceased’’.
Sergeant Rudens said police believed Mr Chen was killed between 12.40am and 6.18am on March 2, 2009.
He said phone records, toll charges and CCTV footage at various locations helped them piece together Mr Gold’s movements between March 2 and March 9 when he left for Hong Kong.
At 8.26am on March 2, Mr Gold hired a Toyota Hiace van, then at 10.25am he made a cash purchase at a nearby Bunnings warehouse of a blue refrigerator trolley, vinyl flooring, duct tape and plywood.
By 11.02am, phone records showed he had returned to the vicinity of the North Sydney karaoke bar, where police believe he used the materials to make a makeshift coffin, before using the trolley to move the body.
He parked the van until March 4 when phone records showed he travelled from Sydney to Wollongong. The next day he purchased a one-way ticket to Hong Kong, and he left on March 9.
Police had been investigating whether the lawyer had faked his own death, something the victim’s family still believe.
Mr Chen’s parents De Liang Chen and Mei Ying Xue travelled to the region in September 2009 to plead for information surrounding the death of their son.
They are back in Wollongong for the inquest, which they hope will bring some ‘‘justice for us and for our son’’.
‘‘It’s extremely painful for us and such a big loss in our lives,’’ his mother said. ‘‘We just feel so much injustice.
‘‘I’ve lost my son, I’ve lost my money. You have to understand how I feel about coming back to this piece of land where I lost my son. It is the most painful piece of land for me to step on.
‘‘It is difficult for us to accept the solicitor is dead.’’