POLITICS

'We lost a lifetime of hope' Lin's father says after Magnotta convicted of murder

12/23/2014 04:37 EST | Updated 02/22/2015 05:59 EST
The prosecution described Jun Lin as the perfect victim, a man without local family or friends to take notice when he walked into Luka Rocco Magnotta's apartment never to walk out again.

But although the Chinese student's family was too far away to prevent his brutal murder and dismemberment, his father says they haven't attained the emotional distance necessary to get over his senseless death.

"The night Lin Jun died, parts of many other people died in one way or another," read a victim impact statement filed on behalf of Lin's father, Diran.

"His mother, his sister and me, his friends...In one night, we lost a lifetime of hope, our futures, parts of our past."

The statement, which was read about an hour after Magnotta was found guilty of first-degree murder and four other charges in connection with Lin's death, described the 33-year-old university student as "brave," "smart," "caring," "adventurous" and strong."

Those positive qualities, Diran said, are forever overshadowed by the gruesome, premature nature of his son's death.

Even before the trial began, the Lin family made efforts to humanize their son to a public they feared would be unlikely to remember him as anything but a footnote to a notorious crime.

At a news conference held before Magnotta's preliminary hearing, the family presented photos of a smiling young man leading a normal life in his home country.

A huge smile beamed out from nearly every snapshot, whether it was an image of a little boy on a tricycle or adult standing with Minnie Mouse at Hong Kong Disneyland. An identification card showed Lin had worked as a volunteer during beach volleyball events at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Diran Lin explained that his son, who was born in the city of Wuhan, had spent some of his adulthood in the Olympic host city working for Microsoft.

In July 2011, however, Jun Lin made the decision to move to Canada to "better himself" and study at Montreal's Concordia University.

He was enrolled as an engineering student at the time of his death and also worked part-time as a convenience store clerk in the south-central part of the city.

Diran Lin's victim impact statement outlined what his son found so appealing about his adopted country, adding that reflecting on Jun's future ambitions adds to his sense of loss.

"I am troubled by knowing what his plans were, to stay here and to start a business, to live here permanently, to enjoy your language, your opportunities, your fresh air," the statement said.

"I live each day with regret that all I now see available here will never be his, that his name will only be associated with a horrible, degrading crime."

Lin's surviving family members have been forever changed by his slaying, Diran said in the statement.

Lin's mother Zhigui Du, who had previously told reporters that losing her son had sapped her will to live, has rarely smiled since May 2012 and will never work again, the statement said.

Lin's younger sister Mei Mei has been forced into a care-taking role for her mother, a job Diran Lin said she should not be facing at this point in her life.

It was Jun that the family was expecting to lean on in their old age, Diran Lin said, adding Chinese culture expects children to care for their parents in their declining years.

"I thought I would be able to retire and enjoy my son being there for me, with me, to let me feel I have been a good father," the statement said. "His chair is empty at my home. His phone never answers. All gone. I have no ability or desire to want anything else."

Diran Lin said he came to Canada to observe the court system at work and see that his son received justice.

Speaking through his lawyer Daniel Urbas, he extended thanks to all who participated in the trial, from the judge and jury to the defence lawyer.

He even had words of support for Magnotta's father, who testified at the trial and whose identity is protected by a publication ban.

"He doesn't blame you for his family's misery," Urbas said. "He does not think you are responsible for his son's tragedy.

"He understands why you came, he respects your integrity, he knows it was a burden on you given your health, but he wants to reassure you he respected your decision to come and tell your truth."

Diran Lin's victim impact statement said he's pleased that Magnotta's murder conviction ensures the maximum sentence of life imprisonment, but said the perpetrator of the crime will still suffer less than those left behind to mourn the victim.

He said Magnotta will be provided with housing, food and medication as he reflects on his crimes, noting the people who loved his son are shortchanged of even those advantages.

"No one will house us, feed us or provide doctors," the statement read. "Lin Jun will never be there for us.

"We do not want to tell our story because it is too sad to repeat. We cannot talk much about Lin Jun without talking about his murder. The murder has robbed us not only of Lin Jun but our ability to think and talk about him without feeling pain and shame."

Urbas said his law firm, Borden Ladner Gervais, has set up a website at which people can leave donations or messages of support for the Lin family.

On the Web: http://www.linjunfamily.com