Sydney -

A man accused of murdering five members of a Chinese-Australian family went on trial on Friday, with a court hearing Robert Xie was motivated by bitterness when he bludgeoned them with “a hammer-like object”.

Xie, 50, is charged with killing his Chinese-born brother-in-law Norman Lin, Lin's wife Lily, their sons Henry, 12, and Terry, 9, and Lily's sister Irene.

The family were found dead at their Sydney home in July 2009 in a case that shocked Australia. The sole surviving member of the family was not home that night.

Xie, an ear, nose and throat surgeon in China before moving to Australia in 2002, has pleaded not guilty.

Crown prosecutor Mark Tedeschi told the court the murders were committed sometime after midnight and before newsagent Norman Lin was due to get up at 5am to do his early morning paper run.

The three adults were killed in their beds, suffering particularly brutal injuries with their faces “smashed by a hammer-like object” with a rope attached to it.

The children were killed in their rooms, with one hit 18 times.

“It is the Crown case that the assailant was motivated by bitterness towards the family in the commission of these murders,” Tedeschi said in his opening address, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“The assailant came into the home prepared for the commission of the offences. It was not a robbery or a sexual attack.”

The case continues. - Sapa-AFP