Rick Thorburn accused of sexually abusing Tiahleigh Palmer before murdering her


Disturbing new twist as foster dad who strangled 12-year-old schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer is accused of killing her to cover up his OWN sexual abuse – as well his teenage son’s

  • Coronial inquest told father strangled foster daughter to cover up his sex abuse
  • Rick Thorburn was jailed for life  in 2018 for killing 12 year old Tiahleigh Palmer
  • The court was told he killed her to protect his son who feared she was pregnant 
  • But new evidence claims her foster father was also sexually abusing Tiahleigh

The twisted foster dad who strangled Tiahleigh Palmer has been accused of sexually abusing her along with his teenage son.

Rick Thorburn was jailed for life in 2018 for murdering the 12-year-old schoolgirl in 2015 at their home in Chambers Flat, Queensland.

A sentencing hearing heard he killed Tiahleigh to cover up incestual abuse by his teenage son Trent Thorburn, who feared she was pregnant.

Convicted sex offender Rick Thorburn is serving a life sentence for the murder of Tiahleigh on October 29, 2015

Convicted sex offender Rick Thorburn is serving a life sentence for the murder of Tiahleigh on October 29, 2015

But an inquest into her death on Wednesday was asked to rule that Thorburn murdered her to also cover up his own sexual abuse of her.

Thorburn on Tuesday told the inquest for the first time how he killed Tiahleigh, claiming he accidentally suffocated her.

He said her death happened after he grabbed her and hauled her back inside the house when she tried to run away form home.

Today though the coronial inquest was told Thorburn’s version of events – detailed in a note he penned during a psychological treatment session he now says he doesn’t remember writing – was ‘self serving’.

Counsel assisting the coroner Kate McMahon said it could be inferred that Thorburn himself had a ‘sexual interest’ in Tiahleigh before he killed her. 

A foster father who murdered schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer (pictured) says he accidentally suffocated her when she tried to leave home after an argument

A foster father who murdered schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer (pictured) says he accidentally suffocated her when she tried to leave home after an argument

A foster father who murdered schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer (pictured) says he accidentally suffocated her when she tried to leave home after an argument

McMcMahon said there was now circumstantial evidence suggesting he himself abused the murdered child.

She said he now faced allegations of sexually abusing other children, told other relatives that he ‘wanted Tiahleigh’ and had recently been convicted on related charges too.

Ms McMahon told the court: ‘There is evidence that Mr Thorburn is a man who has a predilection for sexually abusing children and particularly young girls. 

‘The more striking evidence of that tendency is in the numerous child sexual offences he was convicted of relating to an 11 and four-year-old girl.’  

The new accusations were denied by Thorburn’s lawyer Mathew Hickey, who insisted there was no evidence to back up the claims.

He added: ‘It is really unnecessary that Your Honour venture into that territory.’

Deputy State Coroner Jane Bentley is set to hand down her findings next week. 

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