Tiahleigh Palmer was 12 years old when she was reported missing by her foster parents on 30 October 2015.
A wide-scale search was undertaken. Fishermen found her body lying on the banks of the Pimpama River on 5 November 2015. Later, her foster brother was charged with and convicted of incest after evidence revealed he’d had sexual intercourse with the little girl. Richard Thorburn, Tiahleigh’s foster father later pleaded guilty to murdering her and is serving a life sentence.
Despite that, Mr Thorburn had never given an account of how and where Tiahleigh had died, and how she came to be left on the banks of the Pimpama River. The Deputy State Coroner conducted the inquest in an attempt to gain answers to those questions. The Deputy State Coroner ultimately found that Mr Thorburn’s reported memory loss about the events was untrue, and that he was “completely without remorse for any of his offending”.
The Deputy State Coroner found that the cause of death remains undetermined but that it is most likely that Richard Thorburn asphyxiated or choked Tiahleigh and thereby caused her death.
Matthew Hickey OAM appeared for Mr Thorburn, instructed by Alexander Law.