How Google street view solved a murder
AN image taken by a passing Google car that was mapping Sydney's western suburbs has emerged as the final piece of evidence that brought down a bloodthirsty drug cartel believed to be involved in up to five murders.
Police investigating the 2013 killings of Son Hanh Nguyen and his girlfriend Thi Kim Lien Do, whose bodies were found dumped in Western Sydney, were told by informants the pair had been murdered inside a rented house at Canley Vale.
Investigations into the murder house included an extraordinary discovery.
A Google Street View image captured on 10 April 2013 showed a small white hatchback car and a similarly small white SUV in the front yard of the house.
Further investigations revealed one of the cars belonged to Dung Thi Ngo, a quietly spoken Vietnamese woman who ran a major ice syndicate in Sydney's west.
The other vehicle was linked to Dung's enforcer Kevin Ly, referred to by some homicide detectives as Sydney's Asian "Mr Rent-a-kill" for his willingness to shoot or strangle anyone if the price was right.
The photograph became a key piece of evidence in the police investigation because it linked Dung with Ly and both of them with the suburban home, which was used as a lab to cook methamphetamines.
At their Supreme court trial a large amount of the evidence was heard in camera because of the witnesses' fears of retribution.
After a three-week trial Dung and Ly were found guilty on November 23 of the murder of Son and Thi.
Ly had long been considered one of the most feared members of the Vietnamese criminal underworld and even as a teenager considered a ruthless criminal not to be crossed.
The conviction also brought down the drug syndicate run by Ngo, who was known as "Aunty Dung'' for her matronly looks but was feared throughout the Vietnamese community.
Ly was known to be an immaculate dresser who played the tables at Star, but who stayed away from the high rollers room because he would have attracted too much attention.
"Both of them liked to fly under the radar," an investigator said.
"They had rented suburban homes and ordinary cars - there was nothing flashy about them, except maybe Ly's suits.''
While he has not been charged in the deaths of anyone apart from Mr Nguyen and Ms Do, police haven't ruled out a possible connection to other murders in Sydney, including the slaying of 17-year-old John Wisniewski in Greenfield Park in 2010, when Ly was 19.
The trial last month heard grim details of the double murders.
It heard that Mr Nguyen cooked methamphetamines for Ngo, but that in 2013 she became convinced he had ripped him off when he said he had been robbed.
She lured him to the rented house already being used as a drug lab on Beckenham Street, Canley Vale, for a meeting on April 11.
Mr Nguyen had no idea Ngo suspected him, and brought his girlfriend along.
When they arrived, the unsuspecting pair were confronted by Ngo, Ly and two other men, one armed with a revolver and the other a samurai sword.
The court heard Ms Do was taken into a bedroom and Mr Nguyen was given a chance to save himself if he told her where Ngo's missing money was.
Before Mr Nguyen could answer, Ngo opened a case full of $50 notes, showed it to Ly and his mates and said "just do it''.
She then calmly walked out of the house.
Ly wrapped a clear plastic hose around Mr Nguyen's throat and strangled him, lifting him off the ground at one point as his eyes rolled into the back of his head.
Then he went to the bedroom where Ms Do was being held and smothered her with a pillow despite her pleas to spare her life.
Her last words were: "I know nothing, don't kill me."
Police believe Ms Do was killed purely because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time and Ngo didn't want to leave any loose ends.
The two bodies were wrapped in sheets and dumped in different parts of Sydney. Mr Nguyen's body was found later that night in Bankstown.
Ms Do's badly decomposed body was not found until January the following year, in a paddock in West Hoxton.