A repulsive phone call made by child murderer Rick Thorburn after killing his foster daughter has been revealed at an inquest into the schoolgirl’s tragic death.
Thorburn and his wife Julene complained journalists were ‘out to get them’ in a chilling recorded phone call made from a Queensland prison on June 1.
During the call the pair expressed a desire to ‘live their lives’ without being hassled following the murder of their 12-year-old foster daughter Tiahleigh Palmer in late October 2015.
Coroner Jane Bentley ruled Thorburn strangled Tiahleigh when he found out his son Trent had previously had sex with the minor.
Tiahleigh Palmer was killed between 7.30 and 9.30pm on the 29th of October 2015, the Deputy State Coroner Jane Bentley said
Ms Bentley said Tiahleigh Palmer was most likely choked or asphyxiated by Rick Thorburn (pictured)
The court heard Thorburn deliberately avoided passing on details of the murder to police and possibly sexually abused Tiahleigh himself.
The call shows the married couple felt they were the ones being victimised.
‘When we go into the courtroom, if they want anything out of me they can tell a heap of people to f… off otherwise they’ll get nothing,’ Mr Thorburn told his wife on the phone from behind bars.
‘I will go to my grave with what I’ve got. If the Coroners Court don’t like that, well that’s their f…ing problem, not mine.’
Mrs Thorburn replied: ‘We would all talk a lot happier and as ourselves without them there. But everything we say and do, they are going to twist to put in the news – and that’s what makes it very restrictive. So it makes us very reserved to speak at all.’
Her husband responded by promising to say he ‘could not remember’ what happened on the night he murdered Tiahleigh when in court.
‘That’s what I’ll say – just say the words, `I can’t recall’ and what have they got then?
‘F… all. Just leave it up to me to say everything. I can say and do what I want but you, you can’t, you know,’ he told his wife.
Mrs Thorburn then stated: ‘That’s it – we’ve got to live our lives without them (media) hassling us… anything we say and do they are going to twist and make us look disgusting aren’t they?’
To which an unremorseful Mr Thorburn replied: ‘That’s right – that’s what the f…wits do.’
Earlier, the coroner found schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer likely died as a result of choking or asphyxiation in a deliberate act by her foster father.
Convicted sex offender Thorburn told the inquest into Tiahleigh’s death he ‘accidentally’ suffocated his foster daughter, but this was rejected by Deputy State Coroner Jane Bentley.
‘I find that Richard Thorburn deliberately killed Tiahleigh, he did so at the residence of the Thorburn family between 7.30pm and 9.30pm on the 29th of October 2015,’ she said, handing down her findings on Friday.
Julene Thorburn, the foster mother of murdered schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer, felt she was the victim after the death of the minor
Trent Thorburn confessed to his mother Julene that he’d had sex with the schoolgirl and feared her stomach pains were a sign she was pregnant
While the exact cause of death could not be conclusively determined, Ms Bentley said Tiahleigh was most likely choked or asphyxiated.
Mr Thorburn sobbed while reading a one-page statement – he says was written about four years ago – in the Coroner’s Court last week.
He said he had ‘no recollection’ of being told by his wife on the day Tiahleigh died that his son had previously had sex with the 12-year-old.
Asked whether there may be a link between the circumstances of him killing Tiahleigh and finding out about the sexual relationship, he answered: ‘I don’t know’.
He also told the inquest he was ‘coerced into pleading guilty’ earlier to multiple charges of sexual assault for offences unrelated to Tiahleigh’s death.
They included a string of child sex offences after he sexually assaulted two young girls at his Brisbane home in 2015 and 2016.
Despite internal reviews and criminal trials, no one knows what happened to Tiahleigh in her final moments, a pre-inquest hearing was told in May.
Rick Thorburn is believed to have strangled Tiahleigh Palmer (pictured) in 2015 when he found out his son Trent had previously had sex with the minor
Trent Thorburn was sentenced to four years’ jail in 2017 after admitting he had sex with Tiahleigh Palmer
‘(Thorburn) has pleaded guilty to her murder but has never given an account, either on oath or otherwise, as to how he killed her,’ counsel assisting the coroner Kate McMahon said during the hearing.
In the hours before Tiahleigh died, she had been to a hip-hop dance class where she complained of stomach pains.
That same night, Thorburn’s son Trent confessed to his mother Julene that he’d had sex with the schoolgirl and feared the stomach pains were a sign she was pregnant.
Thornburn and his wife feared a pregnancy could mean Trent would go to jail for incest charges, according to earlier proceedings.
That night, Julene, Trent and brother Joshua went out, leaving Tiahleigh home alone with Rick Thorburn for two hours.
She was never seen alive again.
Tiahleigh’s body – naked except for underpants – was badly decomposed when found by three fishermen on the banks of the Pimpama River near the Gold Coast on November 5, 2015.
Members of the Thorburn family were convicted of being part of the crime – Rick Thorburn for the murder, Trent for incest, and Julene and Joshua for being part of an elaborate cover-up.
Rick Thorburn was give a life sentence for murder.