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Man jailed for Epping murder

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Max Davies
Max Davies
Max is a journalist for the North Central Review. He joined the paper as a cadet journalist in 2021 and graduated from La Trobe University in 2023. He takes a keen interest in motorsport and the automotive industry.

A JEALOUS man who killed his girlfriend in her Epping home and dumped her body in a wheelie bin has been jailed for 28 years.

Joon Seong Tan was sentenced at a Supreme Court hearing last week after more than two years of attempting to cover up the murder of Ju ‘Kelly’ Zhang.

Tan told others – including Ms Zhang’s eight-year-old son Jack – that she had left her home on her own accord and never returned in February, 2021.

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The pair had met online and commenced a relationship in January 2021, however Ms Zhang had made it clear by late January that she wanted to end their one-month relationship and see other people.

The Supreme Court heard Tan felt ‘rejected, jealous and very angry’ after learning of her new relationship, causing an argument that led to him stabbing Ms Zhang six times in the chest before cleaning the crime scene and dumping her body in a household garbage bin.

“One troubling aspect of this case is that after a relationship of only one month, you became so jealous and proprietorial that, when faced with rejection, you were capable of murder,” Justice Amanda Fox said.

“The manner in which you mistreated Ms Zhang’s body and disposed of her in a domestic wheelie bin was callous and disgraceful. You literally treated her as though she was garbage.”

Tan took the bin containing Ms Zhang’s body to Heidelberg West to be collected as part of bin night in the area, where he returned the next morning to ensure it had been picked up by a garbage truck.

The Review reported in June 2021 that Ms Zhang’s body had been found in a Wollert landfill following an extensive search effort by Victoria Police detectives and landfill workers.

The Supreme Court heard Tan’s lies began to unravel when police found incriminating internet searches on his phone, searching questions in Mandarin such as ‘how many years for killing a person in Australia?’ and ‘how is stinky garbage disposed of in Australia?’ days after he killed Ms Zhang.

Tan pleaded not guilty to murder at a trial in May, and a jury later found him guilty on July 21.

“Your actions caused additional distress to the victims, impeded the police investigation and led to Ms Zhang’s body lying undiscovered in landfill for four and a half months,” Justice Fox said.

“You systematically and dispassionately cleaned the scene; disposed of Ms Zhang’s body; ensured her phone was never found; lied to Ms Zhang’s friends; lied to and then avoided police; and attempted to leave the jurisdiction.”

The murder has left a significant impact on Ms Zhang’s friends and family both in Australia and China, with her mother Ms Li, saying in a statement that the disappearance of their only daughter was ‘like a thunderbolt’.

The Supreme Court also heard that Tan had intentionally misled Jack, who he involved in a ‘sham search’ of the house as he pretended to look for Ms Zhang.

“You led an eight-year-old to believe that his mother had just left without him and vanished, which was simply cruel,” Justice Fox said.

“You were an adult and his mother’s friend, so [he] trustingly drove around with you on a fictitious search for his mother.”

Justice Fox sentenced Tan to 28 years jail, three years higher than the standard sentence for murder in Victoria. He must serve at least 23 years.

He has already spent more than two years and four months in custody and will likely be deported once his sentence is completed.

A fundraising page has been set up for Ms Zhang’s son Jack, at www.gofundme.com/f/for-the-parents-young-son-of-ju-zhang.

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