The evil secret behind their smiles
When Tiffany Wan reported her mum missing, she knew more than she was letting on...
Launching their boat into the water, two fisherman headed out on the Swan River in Fremantle,WA. Suddenly, they spotted a half-open blue suitcase floating in the water.
To their horror, a human foot was hanging out of it. As they pulled the case into the boat, the stench struck them.
Realising it contained a woman’s body, the shocked pair sped to nearby water police with the case.
The grim find baffled officers.
Tests showed the woman had sustained 25 blunt-force injuries to her head and face. But who was she?
Creating a computergenerated image of a middle-aged Asian woman, WA Police appealed for information. But no grieving family came forward.
Then, two months later, in September 2016, Tiffany Yiting Wan reported her mum, Annabelle Chen, 57, missing.
Tiffany said she’d flown from Melbourne – where she’d recently graduated from university – to Perth after becoming worried that her mum hadn’t replied to her text messages.
A quiet, talented artist who lived alone, her mother was known to be reclusive.
But Tiffany hadn’t been able to find her despite door-knocking neighbours.
Tests confirmed that the body in the suitcase was Annabelle, who was known to enjoy visiting churches and Buddhist temples.
Tiffany was given the terrible news – someone had bludgeoned her mother to death and tried to cover their tracks by dumping the body. But who? And why? Probing, police discovered more about the family. When Tiffany’s father, businessman Ah Ping Ban, and Annabelle had divorced 16 years before, Annabelle had received a
$15 million settlement.
Now he was bankrupt.
Tiffany told police that Annabelle believed she’d cut all contact with her dad, but she’d secretly been in touch with him for three years.
In June 2016, as her graduation approached, Tiffany wanted both her parents at her ceremony.
But she was anxious about telling her mum.
In her statement she said she and her father had visited her mother at the end of June and come clean.
After the delicate discussion, she said Annabelle had left the house with a wheeled suitcase and got into a friend’s car.
Tiffany hadn’t seen her since. Worried, she texted her mum but got no reply.
When the big graduation day came around, Tiffany smiled in her cap and gown as her proud dad beamed at the camera.
But Annabelle was nowhere to be seen.
By then, she was lying in the morgue, unidentified.
For detectives, something didn’t add up. Bank records showed that in the days after Annabelle was likely killed, Tiffany
had transferred huge amounts of cash to her father – $110,000 followed by another $25,000.
Forensic experts found Annabelle’s blood on the bedhead, TV and wall in her bedroom. The bed’s mattress had also been recently replaced. And a pair of glasses similar to those worn by Ah Ping had been found in the Swan River.
That September, Tiffany Wan and Ah Ping Ban were charged with murder.
Police believed the pair’s actions after Annabelle’s disappearance meant they were both responsible in some way for her death.
Faced with a trial, the father and daughter turned on each other. Both denied killing Annabelle, and blamed one another.
In August, Tiffany Yiting Wan, 25, and Ah Ping Ban, 67, appeared at WA’s Supreme Court, where they pleaded not guilty.
Tiffany claimed her father had admitted that he’d accidentally killed Annabelle with a cast iron paperweight.
She’d even heard her mother scream, followed by a ‘loud metallic’ thud.
As Ah Ping told it, he’d flown in to Perth from Singapore on June 30.
He found Tiffany quite distressed and she told him she’d had a heated row with her mother.
According to him, during the argument, Tiffany had thrown things at her mum before noticing Annabelle had stopped breathing.
He claimed Tiffany had hidden Annabelle’s body in a recycling bin and then repainted a wall in the room.
Wanting to protect his beloved daughter, he’d helped put the body in the suitcase, which Tiffany had weighed down with tiles.
Rigging up a chopping board on her childhood scooter, he said they made a makeshift trolley and both pushed it to the bridge.
Then, he said, they’d dumped his ex-wife in the water, and he’d stumbled and lost his glasses.
The next day, he’d flown to Singapore, while Tiffany had gone back to Melbourne.
Tiffany said she’d kept messaging her mum because she had struggled to deal with her mother’s death.
She even texted to remind her to fill out the census.
‘I would never hurt her, I would never even throw things aiming at her,’ she said, adding she helped cover for her father as she believed it was an accident.
Tiffany’s defence lawyer, Simon Freitag QC, said the jury had to decide whose version of events was the truth.
‘The state says both are guilty of murder... We can’t all be right, you have to decide who it is.’
On September 6, after deliberating for five days, the jury found Ah Ping
Ban guilty of murder.
Tiffany Wan was cleared of murder and manslaughter, but found guilty of being an accessory after the fact, for lying in her police statement and sending messages to her mother after she knew she was dead.
She sobbed as the verdict was read out, while Ban showed no emotion.
Due to be sentenced in November, Tiffany faces up to 14 years in jail, while her dad could be locked up for life. ●
Both blamed the other for killing her
Tiffany smiled at her graduation while her mother was lying in the morgue
Tiffany and her father, Ah Ping Ban turned on each other
Annabelle had 25 injuries to her face and head