Tiahleigh Palmer's murderer starts his life sentence

Child killer Rick Thorburn says he has "no memory" of murdering Tiahleigh Palmer, and says he still loves the 12-year-old girl whose life he brutally took.

Hours earlier, Rick Thorburn had learned that his teenage son, Trent, had sexually assaulted her.

Rick told them: "I have her hidden and I'm going to get rid of her tomorrow night".

So the Queensland man killed Tiahleigh and dumped her near-naked body on a river bank.

On Friday, he was sentenced to life in prison.

Thorburn's wife and two sons have already been jailed for their roles in a case which has horrified Australia.

After Thorburn's sentencing, Child Safety Minister Di Farmer said the Queensland government had commissioned three independent reviews, which made more than 100 recommendations to improve the system.

Tiahleigh, who had been in foster care since 2010, was placed with the Thorburn family in January 2015 and lived in their Chambers Flat home.

Thorburn said he was "appalled and disgusted" with himself after reading statements by his immediate family, who were initially part of a cover-up to hide Tiahleigh's murder but eventually told police that Thorburn was responsible.

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

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

Thorburn, on the left and second from the front, carried Tialeigh's coffin at her funeral, shortly after he murdered her.

Mr Heaton said the police investigation "failed to uncover any tangible evidence" until about seven months after Tiahleigh's death when an anonymous Crime Stoppers tip came in. A post-mortem revealed a bruise on Tiahleigh's head but no further clues as to how she died.

Police interviewed scores of school friends and offered a A$250,000 (£140,000; $190,000) cash reward for information.

Tiahleigh's biological mother Cindy Palmer and many supporters sat in the court gallery a few metres behind Thorburn.

She assured Trent it would be sorted out and told Rick Thorburn. The family then had a meeting at which Thorburn said: "It's all taken care of".

The Thorburns were hauled in for questioning and, it later became clear, lied to police.

But they were brought unstuck by an anonymous tipster who contacted CrimeStoppers, and secret audio surveillance that captured incriminating conversations in the family home. They also found a Facebook messenger chat where Trent confided in his cousin that he may have got Tiahleigh pregnant.

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.

Prosecutors would later tell Brisbane Supreme Court that Thorburn had acted of his own accord to kill the girl to protect his son.

Thorburn looked straight ahead in court as Justice Boddice told him the crime was "made more shocking by the deliberateness of your actions" and the willingness to get his family to defend his "despicable behaviour".

Concerned about Tiahleigh's potential pregnancy, he had told his wife: "We need to think this through, deal with this properly". His brother Josh, 20, and mother Julene, 54, were charged with perverting the course of justice.

While Thorburn has pleaded guilty, he has never explained how he killed Tiahleigh.

All four members of the Thorburn family were arrested in September 2016.

Cindy Palmer, the mother of murdered schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer, arriving at the Supreme Court in Brisbane on Friday.

In handing down the sentence, Justice David Boddice described Thorburn's offending as "cold, calculating and callous".

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

Outside the court, Ms Palmer said the day marked the end of a long and painful fight for justice for Tiahleigh.

She said Thorburn had killed a handsome girl with her life ahead of her.

"Tiahleigh was a attractive young girl who had her entire life to look forward to".

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