The father who killed his 12-year-old foster daughter has claimed living with the torment of knowing he took the life of the young schoolgirl is ‘unbearable’.
In a letter penned by Rick Thorburn, who pleaded guilty to the 2015 murder in Brisbane’s Supreme Court Friday, the 57-year-old also claimed he still loved her.
‘There is not a day go by that I am not haunted by what I have done, the torment I live with is unbearable,’ he wrote in a document obtained by ABC News.
Rick Thorburn (centre) has claimed living with the torment of knowing he took the life of his 12-year-old foster child was ‘unbearable’
In a letter penned by Thorburn (excerpt pictured), who pleaded guilty to the 2015 murder in Brisbane’s Supreme Court Friday, the 57-year-old also claimed he still loved her
Thorburn killed Tiahleigh Palmer between 8pm and 10pm October 29, hours after his son Trent, who was 18 at the time, confessed to having sex with her, telling his parents he feared she was pregnant.
Tiahleigh’s badly decomposed body was found by fishermen on the banks of the Pimpama River six days after she went missing while in the Thorburn family’s care.
He claimed he had no memory of the years following the brutal killing, of which specific details were not known given how badly Tiahleigh’s body had decomposed.
‘I have no memory of the night this happened, and not much memory of the last two and a half years. I only have small fragments which I find hard to put together.’
‘I was supposed to protect you and give you a good life (and) a good future that no one else wanted to,’ he wrote.
Thorburn killed Tiahleigh Palmer (pictured) between 8pm and 10pm October 29, hours after his son Trent, who was 18 at the time, confessed to having sex with her
Thorburn, 58, admitted to murdering the 12-year-old (pictured) on the Gold Coast in October 2015 and was sentenced to life in jail
Trent Thorburn (pictured), Rick’s 20-year-old son, was released in January after serving 16 months in jail for incest, perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice
‘It did not matter about her occasional naughtiness, you could not help love her and I still do.’
Justice David Boddice called Thorburn’s conduct ‘appalling’ and described the murder and cover-up as ‘cold, calculating and callous’, ABC News reported.
‘You showed no respect for her, even in death – you murdered this defenceless child who relied on you for protection,’ he said.
The court heard Tiahleigh was first placed into care in 2010, aged seven, and in January 2015, the Thorburn family became her full-time carers.
Tiahleigh’s (pictured) body was dumped in the Pimpama River, and found six days after she went missing while in the care of Thorburn and his family
Trent (pictured), who admitted to having sex with his foster sister, was jailed in September 2017 for a maximum four years after pleading guilty at the Beenleigh District Court to four charges, including incest
Nine months later, Trent told his cousin he had had sex with Tiahleigh and was concerned she was pregnant.
‘I have never raised a hand, anger or violence, to any child, I have never even smacked my own children as I never wanted to treat anyone the way I was as a child,’ Thorburn’s letter stated.
‘The sentence that will be handed down today will not be justice for what I have done, it will only be a number to me.’
Thorburn has been sentenced to life in jail after pleading guilty to the schoolgirl’s murder and will be eligible for parole in 2036.
Part of his plan, which was told to the family, was to dispose of Tiahleigh’s body, which was found unclothed but for her underpants (pictured are police divers searching the Pimpama River for evidence)
An autopsy was conducted but due to the state of her body a cause of death was never determined (pictured are police divers searching the Pimpama River for evidence)