Australia

Mother of Murdered student Mengmei Leng Begs Judge to Sentence Derek Barrett to life in Jail

The mother of a Chinese university student murdered by her uncle in Sydney has urged a judge to give her killer life in jail.

Derek Barrett pleaded guilty to the murder of Mengmei Leng, 25, whose body was found floating facedown in water at Snapper Point on the Central Coast last year.

The 28-year-old had held her captive in his Campsie unit, bound and naked.

He photographed her before stabbing her more than 20 times.

At a sentence hearing for Barrett, who has also pleaded guilty to 19 charges of filming private parts for sexual gratification, the victim’s mother, Mei Zhang, cried as a friend read out a statement on her behalf.

She told the court Ms Leng was her only child, and her life.

“In April 2016, the dream of my life was completely shattered,” Ms Zhang’s statement read.

“Even now, I cannot accept the fact that he tortured and killed her so brutally.

“One of the videos even showed [Barrett] masturbating over her.”

Ms Zhang said her daughter’s murder had torn her family apart, with Ms Leng’s aunt racked with guilt about the fact her husband was responsible.

“She went to work that night and left her [with him],” she said.

“Her aunt has said if she was at home, maybe this would not have happened.”

Psychologist disputes accused’s claims of memory loss

Ms Leng had been living with her aunt and Barrett since she arrived in Australia in 2015.

The court heard she had two degrees, and had been sending money home to her mother in China.

Her mother urged the judge to give Barrett the maximum sentence.

“The murderer should have life in jail, never to be released,” she said.

Forensic psychologist Dr Richard Furst also gave evidence and found Barrett to be mentally fit to enter a plea.

The court heard Barrett told police he could not remember much about the hours before he killed Ms Leng, because he was smoking ice and “out of it the whole time”.

But Dr Furst said ice did not generally cause memory loss, particularly at the levels the killer said he was using at the time.

“His actions are all purposeful from the killing to the disposal of the body,” he said.

The psychologist also rejected Barrett’s claim he was not sexually attracted to the victim.

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