The foster father of slain schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer has been sentenced to life in prison for her murder.

Rick 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, reports 9 news.

The 57-year-old also pleaded guilty to interfering with her corpse, attempting to pervert the course of justice and two counts of perjury.

He will have to serve 20 years before being eligible for parole in 2036.

Tiahleigh’s biological mother Cindy Palmer was present for the sentencing.

Outside court following the sentencing Ms Palmer said “no sentence will ever be enough”.

“Tiahleigh was a beautiful young girl who had her entire life to look forward to.

“Rick Thorburn took that away from me, from our family, and most importantly , from Tiahleigh.

I need time to process today’s sentencing and to grieve with my family in private.”

She thanked the community and police for their help and support.

Julene, Trent and the Thorburn’s eldest son, Joshua, have been sentenced for perjury after lying to police.

Trent Thorburn also pleaded guilty to having an incestuous relationship with his 12-year-old foster sister. He spent 16 months behind bars before being released on parole earlier this year.

Julene and Joshua were sentenced to six months and three months behind bars respectively.

Rick Thorburn’s sentencing today finally brings to an end the case that prompted an overhaul of Queensland’s child protection system.

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  • It will be interesting to see exactly how long this man serves. With good behaviour etc, you just never know how much their original sentences are cut short


  • You think she would be safe in a foster care family… obviously not!


  • When I was in hospital I was admitted with a girl who was Tiahleighs cousin. The impact his actions have had on not only tiahliegh losing her precious life but also on so many lives left behind is horrendous. I wish a life sentence meant a life sentence!!


  • If only a life sentence would mean sentenced for life indeed !

    • I agree – I wish this too in sentencing.


  • I wish life sentences were for life! Possibility of parole in 20 years. :(


  • Can someone please explain to me how it was incest? This confuses me. And the biological mum coming out slamming everyone…….maybe if the mother had been a better person, led a better life, her daughter wouldn’t have needed to be in foster care. Such a sad, distressing situation for this young girl

    • It sounds like the wrong word to me too indeed. They were not related, from what I know at least.


  • Life in prison is great but eligible for parole after 20 years is a joke. I honestly don’t think the son’s sentence was harsh enough either. Rest in peace sweet girl. The people who were supposed to protect you failed you in the worst of ways.


  • I’m glad some type of justice has been served. Hopefully her family can begin to heal now.


  • What a terrible story. Poor Tiahleigh. At least justice has been made.


  • No sentence is enough for this indeed.


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