Conviction, life term for Toronto murder witnessed on webcam from China

Ex-boyfriend testified to helplessly watching rape, murder on live video chat from Beijing

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 April, 2014, 9:28am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 April, 2014, 8:39pm

A man accused of attacking and raping a Chinese student in her Toronto apartment as her ex-boyfriend watched helplessly via webcam from China has been convicted of first-degree murder.

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

Liu Qian, 23, was found dead in April 2011, a few hours after her ex-boyfriend Meng Xian watched in horror via webcam as she tried to fend off an attacker who forced his way through her doorway.

Meng, who was in Beijing as he watched the horrifying scene unfold, told police he saw Liu struggling with the man before they disappeared from view.

Later, the man reappeared on the screen, naked from the waist down, before switching off the computer.

Liu'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 lived in an apartment in the same building as Liu, who had moved to Canada from China to study English.

Meng testified that Dickson forced his way inside the apartment while Liu was pushing at his chest and saying "no." Meng said Dickson pushed Liu down off camera and after the sound of two muffled bangs, he heard no more sounds from Liu.

The jury saw video and photographs of 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 Liu's abdomen and groin area matched DNA evidence collected from Dickson.

Police said Liu's laptop computer, webcam and mobile phone were taken from the apartment the night of the attack. Police said the online chat was on a live streaming camera and was not recorded. However, Meng recorded the audio of part of the attack on his cellphone and it was played for the jury.

Dickson's lawyer, Robert Nuttall, said his client has been "absolutely remorseful for a very long time".Dickson "didn't say anything. He just accepted the verdict."