The foster brother who had sex with Queensland schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer before she was allegedly murdered has filed an appeal against his sentence.

Trent Thorburn, 20, was sentenced to four years in jail after pleading guilty to incest, perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice at a hearing in the Beenleigh District Court on Thursday.

He has already spent nearly a year in custody and will be released in late January 2018, after serving 16 months.

ABC NEWS today reported that Trent Thorburn lodged an appeal on Friday in the Supreme Court on the grounds his four-year sentence was “manifestly excessive in all the circumstances”.


Tiahleigh’s body was discovered on the banks of the Pimpama River on the northern end of the Gold Coast on November 5, 2015.

Her foster father, Rick Thorburn, has been charged with the 12-year-old’s murder and is awaiting trial.

At the sentencing hearing on Thursday, Judge Craig Chowdhury said Trent Thorburn had taken part in “a sustained, immoral and disgraceful plan” with other family members to cover up Tiahleigh’s death.

Judge Chowdhury said when Trent Thorburn revealed to his mother he had had sex with his 12-year-old foster sister that “became the catalyst for her tragic death”.

The judge told the hearing he “couldn’t get his head around” how someone with such good prospects could end up in this situation.

The court heard Thorburn had concerns his foster sister was pregnant because she had been complaining about stomach pains.

“It seems that this fear of pregnancy triggered this extraordinary situation,” Judge Chowdhury said.

Read more on this story: Foster family face charges over Tiahleigh Palmer’s murder

Share your comments below


  • It doesn’t sound excessive to me.


  • The whole thing sounds absolutely heinous. That poor, poor little girl, who probably already had had a difficult life to be placed in foster care and then her innocence taken away and brutally murdered by the people she was supposed to be able to entrust her well being to.


  • Our justice system is beyond disgraceful! Punishments should be way harsher, ESPECIALLY when the perpetrator is the parent or carer. A home is where you should feel safe & loved. Anyone not providing this environment needs to be dealt with severely.


  • Just sickening. I hope there’s justice for the girl. My oldest is 12, I don’t even want to think about having such a horrible thing happen at any age let alone so young.


  • poor girl, this guy is disgraceful. don’t let him out, he is a monster


  • You do the crime, you pay the time


  • I hope he will not get his appeal,he belongs in jail for so much longer.


  • This whole story is absolutely sickening. They are all guilty.


  • Both Father and Son should be locked away indefinitely – such heinous crimes – RIP Tiahleigh :(


  • I hope his sentence is increased dramatically.


  • Very sad indeed. Not much justice for Tiahleigh at all. :-(


  • He knew it was wrong,and now he should suffer the consequences,his sentence should be longer,our justice system needs to be tougher.


  • Vile and horrific and the time should befit the crime and the time should be long, long, long.


  • So the foster father is charged with murder and the foster brother with incest. How awful that Tiahleigh was placed in such sick family and even thinking about how she must have suffered is just awful. May God rest her soul and may the foster father and the foster brother held accountable for their actions.


  • The fact that he feels he’s been hard done by with a 4 year sentence makes it pretty clear that this is not someone who should be allowed out of jail and anywhere near innocent people.

    • Very Well said mom 206279.

      • I can’t believe that his sentence was only for 4 years and he will be out already in January! – this is a disgusting misjudgement by the sentencing judge – incest which then led to this beautiful young girls murder – surely he deserves a harsher punishment

        I also think that this calls for a tightening and reforming of the foster care system – too many kids placed in foster care that are either having hard times or go missing or end up dead – the system is failing these children!


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