Tiahleigh Palmer’s foster father Rick Thorburn sentenced to life in prison

UPDATE @ 12.15 PM | RICK Thorburn has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his foster daughter, 12-year-old Tiahleigh Palmer.

The 57-year-old pleaded guilty to the Logan schoolgirl’s murder, perjury, attempting to pervert the course of justice, and interference with a corpse in Brisbane’s Supreme Court on Friday.

The court heard confronting details about the night Tiahleigh was killed, which included Rick telling his family “I have her hidden, I’m going to get rid of her tomorrow night. I know a good place where I can rid of her body.”


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Prosecutor Carl Heaton QC also told the court that Rick told his family: “Don’t ask any questions, you don’t need to know, I have taken care of it.”

It was revealed Thorburn killed the Year 7 student sometime between 8pm and 11pm on the night of October 29, 2015 after discovering his son Trent had been intimate with her and feared she might be pregnant.

The court heard Thorburn came home “covered in dirt” at 11pm the following night and told his family “it’s done”.

Tiahleigh’s body was found on the banks of the Pimpama River on November 5, 2015, six days after she was reported missing on October 30.

The court heard an autopsy could not determine the cause of Tiahleigh’s death, but there was a bruise on her scalp.

Thorburn will have to spend at least 20 years behind bars before being eligible for parole in September 2036.

“You murdered this defenceless child, who relied on you for protection and you did so to save one of your own children because of the consequences of his actions,” Justice David Boddice said during sentencing.

“You showed no respect for her even in death.”

Queensland’s Child Safety Minister Di Farmer has since released a statement condemning Thorburn’s actions.

“Tiahleigh Palmer was the victim of an evil crime committed by Rick Thorburn,” she said.

“In the wake of her tragic death, urgent reviews made more than 100 recommendations to make Queensland the safest state in Australia for vulnerable children.”

“The Queensland Government supported these recommendations. Implementation began before the reviews were completed and is continuing.

“None of them are any consolation for Tiahleigh’s murder.”

She finished the statement by concluding: “Rick Thorburn deserves the fullest punishment.”

EARLIER @ 8.00 AM | The foster father of Logan schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer is expected to plead guilty to murdering the 12-year-old in Brisbane’s Supreme Court today.

Thorburn was initially ordered to stand trial for the schoolgirl’s murder, however in March he indicated via his lawyer that he would plead guilty.

If the plea goes ahead, Thorburn will likely be sentenced today.

The 57-year-old was arrested and charged in September 2016, almost a year after Tiahleigh’s body was found on the banks of the Pimpama River in November 2015.

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