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'Help me, he's trying to kill me': Screams before uni lecturer murdered wife



Neighbours heard a Melbourne mother scream "help me, he's trying to kill me" in the moments before a university lecturer murdered his wife at their family home.

Adam Brown, 40, a former Deakin University digital media lecturer who also taught gender studies and women's history, last year pleaded guilty to the murder of his wife of five years, Chen Cheng.

He sobbed as he sat in a dock at Melbourne's Supreme Court during a pre-sentence hearing on Friday, and was supported in court by more than a dozen family and friends.

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The 35-year-old mother of one was found lying in the backyard of their Croydon North home in April 2022, after being stabbed multiple times.

Cheng was born in China, moved to Melbourne to study in 2015 and the couple met the following year.

They married in Cheng's home country in 2017 and had a child together in 2020.

While there were no reported incidents of domestic violence, Brown had anger issues and sought help from a psychologist the year before the murder, the court was told.

Cheng also sought mental health treatment after suffering a traumatic birth.

On the evening of April 30 last year, the couple were arguing about future kindergarten arrangements when the fight escalated and moved through different rooms of their home, prosecutor Nanette Rogers SC said.

Brown claimed Cheng spat in his face, hit him around his ears and he tried to restrain her and push her away.

They walked into the kitchen and the couple both armed themselves with knives, the prosecutor said.

She said Cheng was stabbed in the neck in the kitchen, losing a large amount of her blood.

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Brown told police his wife bit him on the arm.

"The fight moved to backyard, both ended up on the ground struggling over a single knife," Rogers said.

"He realised she had sustained serious injuries in the struggle."

She said Brown had given no explanation about how his wife sustained so many stab wounds.

He only suffered minor wounds.

Brown tried to resuscitate Cheng and called triple zero.

Neighbours heard cries and screams coming from the home before she died, and heard Brown say "stop", "get down" or "shut up".

Worried, the neighbours knocked on the front door.

When there was no answer, they heard Cheng scream "help me, he's trying to kill me".

They banged on the garage and Brown let them inside, with one of the neighbours performing CPR.

He told the neighbours they had stabbed each other.

Cheng was declared dead by paramedics at 10.40pm, with an autopsy finding she died from three deep stab wounds to her chest and neck.

Brown's barrister David Hallowes SC said his client was "deeply sorry" and he accepted he would serve a lengthy jail term for the murder.

The hearing before Justice Mark Champion continues.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit In an emergency, call 000.

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