The evil se­cret be­hind their smiles

that's life (Australia) - - Contents - Compiled by Sarah Firth

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

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