Teen jailed for shooting Brisbane doctor

Robyn Wuth
·3-min read

Every Saturday night in China, a frail elderly woman waits for the phone to ring.

It is a ritual that her loving son Luping Zeng made from Brisbane to his family living a world away.

But Dr Zeng is dead - murdered in his own home by a drug-addicted teenager in a botched robbery.

Each week the phone still rings in China, but the voice is that of a brother pretending to be Dr Zeng, protecting his mother from the fact her youngest son will never call again.

Skin cancer specialist Dr Zeng, 56, was gunned down on April 16, 2019, while packing his car with the garage door open at the MacGregor home he shared with his wife and two adult children.

Despite "heroic and sustained" efforts by paramedics to save him, he died later in hospital.

His 17-year-old killer, who cannot be identified, pleaded guilty to murder in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Thursday.

The teen remained impassive as Justice Ann Lyons handed down a maximum 10-year sentence for a juvenile and ordered he serve at least six years before being eligible for parole in April 2025.

The teenager was high on drugs and had not slept for days when he and two co-accused approached Dr Zeng in the carport of his Macgregor home just after 11.30pm.

The trio was armed with a shotgun, a baseball bat and machete and the terrified doctor called to his wife that "hurry call police, someone has a gun in hand".

The shot rang out as she called triple zero.

More than 160 pellets struck Dr Zeng in the abdomen.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Dr Zeng's wife, also a doctor said the family had been forced to sell the family practice after the shooting that "almost destroyed the family".

"The gentle, kind and generous man who was my husband and father of our two children was casually and needlessly taken from us," his wife said.

"He was a small and delicate man who mildly confronted intruders. There was no good reason for him to be killed.

"We were all home when we heard the gunshots, and it is a sound that will forever be in our heads."

She described her husband as a devoted family man and a dedicated doctor who put the needs of his patients above his own.

"We believed we could make a positive difference to this part of the world that we have sacrificed so much to come to and settled down in.

"We sought a life of real meaning, to work hard and contribute to humanity."

The teenager who became a father at 15 descended into a life of crime when his parents separated, and he could not cope with fatherhood, the court was told.

The teen wrote to Dr Zeng's family expressing his deep shame and sorrow over the murder.

"I remember that day I was at court pleading guilty. I have not been so ashamed of myself, and I couldn't look at any of your family members.

"I knew I didn't have the right to look at you, and I was ashamed and scared that I would see the pain and grief I had caused in your family's eyes."

Justice Lyons said the teenager took the life of a good and honourable man in an attack that was premeditated and cowardly.