‘The killer showed no mercy’

Police examined Elizabeth Zhong’s Sunnyhills home after she was reported missing in late November 2020. Times file photo Wayne Martin

The man who brutally murdered a businesswoman in her Sunnyhills home in late 2020 will serve more than 18 years in prison for the crime.

Fang Sun appeared before Justice Neil Campbell at the Auckland High Court on Tuesday for sentencing after previously being found guilty of the murder of Elizabeth (Ying) Zhong following a six-week jury trial.

During the trial the court heard Sun and Zhong had been business partners but their professional relationship became acrimonious when their shared commercial interests fell into debt.

Sun took a civil litigation against Zhong and hired a private investigator to follow her.

Zhong’s friends reported her missing to police on the morning of November 28, 2020.

Her body was found later that day inside her Land Rover vehicle parked a short distance from her Suzetta Place home.

She’d been stabbed more than 20 times and had been placed inside the boot of her own vehicle.

The Crown’s case, presented in court by prosecutors Gareth Kayes and Sam Becroft, was that Sun was motivated to kill by the millions of dollars his and Zhong’s businesses had lost.

During Sun’s sentencing on Tuesday, his defence lawyer Sam Wimsett told the judge Sun maintained his innocence.

Zhong’s daughter, whose name is suppressed, then read her victim impact statement to the court.

She said her family’s lives had been turned upside down by her mother’s murder and the subsequent trial.

She believed her mother had treated Sun with the “utmost kindness and respect”.

“I did not get to see mum until about a week after the pathologist had completed their work.

“When I saw her I felt so shocked. I just felt numb.

“I did not expect to have to plan a funeral for my mum, who was only 55 years old.”

She said following the killing she and her husband feared for the safety of everyone around them, including their two children, who were aged one and four-years-old at the time.

“My son is so young that he doesn’t remember my mum at all,” she said.

She said her daughter would say Zhong was her best friend.

“No matter how hard I try I cannot fill this void.

“When they are older, how do we explain to them why my mum has died and how she was murdered?

“My life has been left with this big empty hole and no one will be able to fill it.”

Zhong’s daughter asked the judge to consider the damage Sun had caused when handing down the sentence.

“The killer showed no mercy,” she said.

“I will never find the will to forgive and forget him for the damage he has done.”

The judge thanked her and said her mother would be very proud of her.

Justice Campbell then said that at about 3.30am on November 28, 2020, Sun had walked to Zhong’s home, which was a short distance from his own.

“You entered her house most likely through an unsecured door.

“You went upstairs to her third-floor bedroom and you attacked Ms Zhong.

“You stabbed her 28 times. Your attack was so brutal that you almost decapitated Ms Zhong.”

The judge said Zhong was “kind and generous and deeply loved by her friends”.

He said Sun’s offending involved calculated planning.

It involved him going to her house in the early hours of the morning and Sun had entered Zhong’s home unlawfully.

“It was anything but impulsive. Your murder was brutal and callous to a very high degree.”

Justice Campbell sentenced Sun to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 18 years and six months.