Tiahleigh Palmer's foster father sentenced to minimum of 20 years

Queensland foster father Rick Thorburn will spend at least 20 years behind bars after killing the young girl he was meant to love and protect.

Thorburn has been jailed for life, meaning he’ll spend at least two decades behind bars, for killing his 12-year-old foster daughter Tiahleigh Palmer and dumping her body in a Gold Coast river in 2015.

The 57-year-old murdered the girl who was in his care after his son Trent confessed to having sex with her and became concerned she was pregnant.


Tiahleigh Palmer’s foster father and murderer Rick Thorburn has been sentenced to at least 20 years in jail. Photo: AAP

Tiahleigh’s badly decomposed body was found on the banks of the Pimpama River, six days after her foster father claimed he’d dropped her safety at school.

In sentencing Thorburn, Supreme Court Justice David Boddice said his crimes were cold and callous.

“You murdered this defenceless child who relied on you for protection,” he said.

Thorburn wiped away tears as he replied “guilty” to charges of murder, interfering with the 12-year-old’s corpse, perjury, and attempting to pervert the course of justice on Friday morning.

Just metres away, Tiahleigh’s biological mother Cindy Palmer finally got the admission she had waited years for – that the man trusted with caring for her daughter actually snuffed out her life.

Thorburn shed tears in the dock as he admitted killing the 12-year-old Logan schoolgirl. Photo: 7 News