Tiahleigh Palmer's foster father pleads guilty to her murder

Queensland man Rick Thorburn has admitted murdering his foster daughter Tiahleigh Palmer and dumping her body in a Gold Coast river.

Thorburn shed tears in the dock as he admitted killing the 12-year-old Logan schoolgirl in 2015, after his son Trent confessed to having sex with her and had worries she was pregnant.

The 57-year-old is expected to be handed a life sentence for the crime.

He’s also pleaded guilty to interfering with Tiahleigh’s corpse, attempting to pervert the course of justice and two counts of perjury.

Rick Thorburn has pleaded guilty to the murder of his foster daughter Tiahleigh Palmer (pictured). Photo: 7 News

Thorburn looked pale as he entered the dock, with Tiahleigh’s biological mother Cindy Palmer and her supporters sitting metres away.

Police who doggedly pursued justice for the schoolgirl were also in the court.

Sentencing submissions are now underway in the Brisbane Supreme Court.

The court heard Tiahleigh was first placed into care in 2010, aged seven.

In January 2015, the Thorburn family became her full-time carers.

Nine months later, Trent told his cousin he had sex with her and was concerned she was pregnant.

While she was showering, he also told his mother about having sex with his foster sister.

She assured Trent it would be sorted out and told Rick Thorburn.

He was concerned about the revelation and that it could cause Trent to go to jail.

“We need to think this through, deal with this properly,” he said.

Between about 8pm and 10 pm on October 29, Rick Thorburn murdered her, the court heard.

Thorburn, who shed tears in the dock, is being sentenced in the Brisbane Supreme Court. Photo: AAP

The Thorburn family then had a meeting at which Rick said “it’s all taken care of.”

He later told the family they had to take care of Trent and crafted a lie for them to try and cover up the murder.

Part of his plan, which was told to the family, was to dispose of the body.

Tiahleigh’s decomposing body was found six days after she went missing.

Thorburn had told police he dropped her safely at school on the day she went missing.

The foster father is the last member of his family to be sentenced over the crime.

Thorburn’s two sons and wife have also been jailed.

The court heard Tiahleigh was first placed into care in 2010, aged seven. Photo: 7 News

Trent, 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.

His mother Julene spent six months behind bars after pleading guilty in November 2017 to perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The Thorburns’ eldest son, Joshua, was sentenced to three months in jail in July 2017 after pleading guilty to same charges as his mother.

The hearing continues.