Xue keen on foreign flight after wife's death, jury told

Nai Yin Xue.
Nai Yin Xue.
Nai Yin Xue pointed at several countries on a Melbourne travel agent's map looking for somewhere to fly after being told no flights to Los Angeles were available that night, a jury has been told.

Xue, 55, a Chinese newspaper owner, is on trial in the High Court at Auckland for the murder of his wife An An Liu in September 2007.

Ms Liu's body was found in the boot of Xue's Chinese Times car outside the family home in Keystone Ave, Mt Roskill. The Crown says Xue strangled her to death.

Crown prosecutor Aaron Perkins said Xue bought a ticket to Melbourne on September 13, 2007, two days after the Crown says Ms Liu was killed. Initially he bought a ticket for himself, but he subsequently bought one for his three-year-old daughter.

After arriving in Melbourne he asked about buses to Sydney or Brisbane, which Mr Perkins said he did with the thought of flying out of Australia from one of these cities, but after being told it was a 10 hour journey to Sydney he stayed in Melbourne.

Mr Perkins said Xue booked into the Crossley Hotel and then went to a travel agent to seek a ticket to Los Angeles, and was told no tickets were available until September 15.

"The travel agent will say that the accused was distressed at that, saying he needed to leave tonight," Mr Perkins said.

"When she said it was not possible, he then asked about London and was told that was sold out.

"He then looked at a map of the world and started pointing out various parts of the globe and asked if there were tickets going to there."

Mr Perkins said the travel agent wondered if there was a communication issue and found a Mandarin language translator, who confirmed the story she first understood.

Eventually he booked a flight for Los Angeles on September 15, but not one for his daughter.

Mr Perkins said Xue and his daughter Qian Xun Xue then stayed at another hotel on September 14 before he headed with her to Southern Cross train station the next morning.

He then got to the foot of an escalator and told her to stay there and not follow him. Mr Perkins said various security cameras caught Xue then making his way to Melbourne Airport.

"He's shown in positive, rather happy frame of mind," Mr Perkins told the all-women jury.

"You may think the accused is thinking at that point in time as he passes through the airport that he's got away with the killing of his wife."

Mr Perkins said Xue chose to take his daughter with him to Australia and then abandon her there because it would take longer to alert authorities to his disappearance and the death of his wife.

An arrest warrant for Xue was issued shortly afterwards. He remained at large for four months before he was found in Chamblee, Georgia, in February 2007.

Mr Perkins said Ms Liu was fearful of Xue, who was unhappy she had not delivered him a son, and he had already admitted he assaulted her in September 2006, a year before she was found dead.

He said Ms Liu obtained a protection order and moved to a women's refuge for two months after Xue threatened her with a knife in September 2006. She then moved to China for four months before agreeing to return to live with Xue.

Mr Perkins said she left for Wellington in July 2007 with her daughter after what appeared to be another violent incident, but agreed to return to the family home the next month.

She was not seen after September 11, 2007, the day the Crown says Xue killed her.

Xue declared "I am not guilty, I am innocent" when the murder charge was put to him at the beginning of the trial today.

Among the first witnesses at the trial was Nai Tran Xie, a friend of the couple.

After having his memory refreshed by an earlier statement he made to police, Mr Xie said Ms Liu had told him Xue had once beaten her and injured her daughter in 2006.

Mr Xie will be cross-examined tomorrow.

The trial is scheduled to last three weeks. The Crown has about 95 Crown witnesses, about 40 of whom will have their evidence read as it is not in dispute.