A jealous killer who brutally stabbed his girlfriend to death in her own home was on his way to the airport when the police found him by chance.
Joon Seong Tan, 38, was sentenced in Victoria’s Supreme Court on Friday to 28 years in jail for the 2021 murder of Melbourne mother Ju ‘Kelly’ Zhang, 33.
Setting a non-parole period of 23 years, Judge Amanda Fox told Tan that he would likely spend every day of his main sentence behind bars before being deported to Malaysia, where he was born.
Ju ‘Kelly’ Zhang, 33, was killed by her boyfriend of a month, after she began dating another man.
Above, Joon Seong Tan during his interview with the Victoria Police. He was found guilty of murder in May after a jury took less than a day to deliberate.
In sentencing Tan, Judge Fox revealed just how close the vile killer came to escaping justice.
The court heard that homicide detectives were on their way to arrest Tan when they saw him walking down the street.
Detectives were eager to speak to Tan after he was unable to meet with them as arranged following the mysterious disappearance of Ms. Zhang, a woman he had been dating for only a month.
“On February 7, the police were traveling to his Doncaster address when they happened to spot him walking down a nearby street,” Judge Fox said.
‘You had your passport and $3,500 in cash with you.’
Tan was arrested and had his passport confiscated while detectives worked to build the case against him.
It would be four and a half months before his victim’s body was finally located in a dump in North Melbourne after a thorough search.
Tan would continue to deny murdering Ms. Zhang until lunchtime after a jury convicted him of murder in May.
Joon Seong Tan (pictured) will spend 28 years behind bars after being convicted of murder
Ms. Zhang’s body was found at a dump in Wollert, north Melbourne, four months later.
On Friday, the court heard harrowing details of how Ms Zhang was stabbed at least six times in the chest by Tan inside her home in Epping while her eight-year-old son watched TV in another room.
When her mangled body was finally pulled from the trash, forensic experts were able to determine that she had fought fiercely for her life, with stab wounds to her forearms and hands.
When Tan was done, he lied to his young son that his mother had abandoned him.
After taking the boy to “search the streets” for his mother, Tan dumped Ms. Zhang into a wheelie bin and drove it to Heidelberg West, 15 km away, where the bin was placed on the street along with others for collection.
He then waited to watch as the garbage truck emptied Ms. Zhang’s body from the wheelie bin.
Judge Fox sentenced Tan for his cold and ruthless behavior.
“The way you mishandled Ms. Zhang’s body and disposed of her in a household garbage bin was callous and shameful,” he told Tan.
You literally treated her like she was dirt.
Single mother Ju ‘Kelly’ Zhang (pictured) was murdered inside her Melbourne home in February 2021
Judge Fox said that Tan’s relationship with Ms. Zhang had “barely begun” when he murdered her.
“But nonetheless, she trusted you, introduced you to her (son), and invited you into her life.”
The court heard that Tan murdered Ms. Zhang after she started a new relationship with another man.
“You learned that she was seeing another man through behavior that would constitute harassment,” Judge Fox said.
I’m glad you took his life because you felt rejected and enraged. Kelly had a right to feel safe and secure in her home, but you killed her in her own bedroom with her little boy in a nearby room.
The court heard that Ms. Zhang’s son now lived with his elderly grandparents and kept asking when his mother would return home.
‘The first person you lied to was (his son). You led an eight-year-old boy to believe that his mother had just left without him and disappeared, which was just cruel,” Judge Fox said.
‘You were an adult and a friend of his mother, so (he) drove with you on a fictional search for his mother. He (he) also involved him in a mock search of his house where he pretended to look for his mother in different rooms.
‘The next morning you took him to school and continued to lie, telling him that his mother had not returned yet. By now, he had placed Ms. Zhang’s body in a container.
The court was told that Tan had told a friend that he believed his new girlfriend Ju Kelly Zhang (pictured) was cheating on him.
Police later discovered that Tan had Googled “how many years have you been killing someone in Australia” shortly after disposing of his girlfriend’s body.
In the days that followed, Tan did several chilling Google searches on her phone, including ‘how stinky rubbish is disposed of in Australia’ and how many years to kill in Australia.
Tan’s month-long murder trial heard dozens of witnesses, including Ms. Zhang’s friends and ex-husband.
The jury was told how Tan met Ms. Zhang online in early 2021 and quickly fell in love with her and referred to her as his wife.
Prosecutors told the jury that Tan had murdered Ms. Zhang sometime between 5 and 6 pm after having dinner with her and their eight-year-old son.
According to reports, Ms. Zhang had become angry with Tan’s relationship and started dating another man.
Tan had seen her car parked in her driveway.
Jurors were told that Tan had told a friend that he believed Ms. Zhang was cheating on him and that if he found out that was the case, “he would kill her, hug her and die together.”
If you or someone you know is affected by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, please call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732