Brenda Lin was just 15 and on an overseas school trip the night five members of her family – her father, Min Lin, 45, her mother Lily, 43, her little brothers Henry, 12, and Terry, 9, and Lily’s 39-year-old sister Irene – were bludgeoned to death by her uncle in their Sydney home in July 2009.
Brenda had been dropped off at the airport by her father some days before, admitting in a preview for her exclusive interview with Sunday Night, her “biggest regret” was “not hugging him and telling him [she] loved him”.
Days later, Brenda would receive a message from a friend on Facebook. Attached to the message would be a link detailing the murders, and at the top, a photo of her house.
“That’s my house,” Brenda says in a separate preview for Sunday’s interview, recalling seeing the image and recognising her two-story home in Sydney across the news.
“It was such a surreal sort of feeling, I think I was in so much shock. I didn’t believe it.”
It was only when she arrived home, back at the same airport her father dropped her days before, that the enormity of the tragedy and her loss felt real.
"As soon as I saw my aunt she gave me this massive hug. She was crying as well and I think that’s when I knew it was all real," she said.
Earlier this month, Brenda's uncle Robert Xie was sentenced to five consecutive life sentences for the horrific crimes, without the possibility of parole.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors argued Xie's motive for the attack was complete access to Brenda, who moved in with him and wife Kathy after she lost her family. The court heard Xie inappropriately touched Brenda, who was just a teenager at the time, in the years following her family's deaths.
Brenda's identity was protected throughout the trial due to laws protecting children involved in crimes. The jury in the murder cases heard the testimony of the abuse, but journalists have only been able to report on her allegations and experiences now.