Jailed for killing ‘pretty’ niece
A SYDNEY man who stabbed his niece to death and dumped her body in a blowhole has been jailed for at least 34-and-a-half years.
Derek Barrett, 29, previously pleaded guilty to murdering Chinese university student Mengmei Leng, whose naked body was found floating in the blowhole at Snapper Point on the NSW Central Coast in April 2016.
"This was a despicable crime of extreme brutality and great wickedness," Justice Helen Wilson said at the NSW Supreme Court on Friday when sentencing Barrett to 46 years in jail with a non-parole period of 34 years and six months.
Ms Leng, 25, had lived with Barrett and her aunt in the southwest Sydney suburb of Campsie since arriving in Australia to study five years before her murder.
"I betrayed my own family and hers for my actions," Barrett said at the NSW Supreme Court on Wednesday during his sentencing hearing.
"I disgust myself." Barrett admitted he was sexually attracted to Ms Leng.
"She was a pretty girl," he said.
According to agreed facts, Barrett gagged and bound Ms Leng to her bed in the early hours of April 22 while his wife was away in Wollongong for two days.
He then took 19 photos of her naked body.
At some point over the next two days, Barrett stabbed Ms Leng multiple times, inflicting a fatal stab wound to the throat.
On the morning of April 24, he drove her body, wrapped in plastic, to Snapper Point and dumped it over a cliff into the blowhole.
The former IT worker then took seven photos of the area before driving to his parents' house nearby and later returning to Sydney.
Barrett told the court he only has flashes of memory from that weekend - an argument, his face reflected in the mirror and seeing blood in the sink. He said he'd been on an ice binge before killing Ms Leng, which affected his memory.
He admitted initially lying to police because he "couldn't figure out what exactly happened until a little later."
"With the memory gaps I basically filled them in with lies," he said.
Ms Leng's mother, who doted on her daughter following the death of her husband in an earthquake, believed Ms Leng would be safe living with her aunt.
In 2016, Ms Leng's aunt, 48, often spent time in Wollongong for work; the woman's daughter, Ms Leng's cousin, also lived in the Campsie flat.
Videos ranging in length from 30 seconds to two minutes show Barrett masturbating over Ms Leng as she slept.
Police say Barrett recorded himself setting up a camera in the bathroom used by Ms Leng, hidden behind toiletries.
In videos retrieved from Barrett's phone, Ms Leng can be seen coming into the bathroom, undressing and showering.
In one video, Barrett appeared to be "preparing a bath" before calling out to Ms Leng, who was later filmed in the bath.
Ms Zhang bowed her head and wept as she described her close relationship with her daughter and the pain of losing her.
"We even today still cannot accept the fact that she has left us and we are still in great suffering," Ms Zhang said.
"The time will never turn back to when Mengmei and I were living happily together."
Last year, Derek Barrett's lawyer told news.com.au that his client was having a "very unpleasant" time in custody at Silverwater Correctional Centre.