UK & World News

  • 8 April 2014, 12:32

Webcam Murder: Student's Killer Jailed

A man has been convicted of murder and jailed for life for killing a Chinese student whose ex-boyfriend witnessed the attack via a webcam.

Qian Liu, 23, was killed by Brian Dickson, a neighbour in her Toronto apartment block.

She was found dead in April 2011, a few hours after her former boyfriend in China, Xian Meng, watched as she tried to fend off an attacker who appeared at her door.

The jury deliberated for four hours before delivering its verdict against Dickson, 32. Justice Anne Molloy imposed a life sentence with a chance of parole after 25 years.

Mr Meng told police he saw Ms Liu struggling with a man before her computer was shut off.

He testified that Dickson forced his way inside the apartment while Ms Liu was pushing at his chest and saying "no".

Mr Meng said Dickson pushed Liu out of sight of the camera and after the sound of two muffled bangs, he heard no more sounds from Ms Liu.

After a period of silence, Mr Meng said he heard Dickson breathing heavily, and moments later he appeared naked in front of the webcam and turned off the computer.

The jury saw video and photographs of Ms Liu's body, lying face down next to her bed, with her nightgown and sweater pulled up to her shoulders.

Blood could be seen on the floor around her face. The prosecutor said semen found on Ms Liu's abdomen and groin area matched DNA evidence collected from Dickson.

A post-mortem did not establish definitively how Ms Liu died, but a pathologist gave evidence that it was probable that death resulted from "compression applied to her neck".

Police said Ms Liu's laptop computer, webcam and mobile phone were taken from the apartment the night of the attack. The online chat was on a live streaming camera and was not recorded.

The dead woman's parents travelled from China for the trial. Her father wiped away tears as the verdict was read.

"We are still very sad," Jian Hui Liu said after hearing the verdict through a translator. His wife clutched a picture of their daughter and cried silently.

Dickson had offered to plead guilty to manslaughter, but the prosecution rejected the lesser charge.

His lawyer, Robert Nuttall, said his client has been "absolutely remorseful for a very long time".

"He didn't say anything. He just accepted the verdict," Mr Nuttall said.