Ti­ahleigh Palmer: fos­ter brother sen­tenced to four years, in­clud­ing for in­cest

The Guardian Australia - - Headlines - Aus­tralian As­so­ci­ated Press

The mo­ment Ti­ahleigh Palmer’s fos­ter brother con­fessed to hav­ing sex with the 12-year-old, the Bris­bane school­girl’s fate was sealed, a court has heard.

Trent Thor­burn, 20, con­fessed to his mother in late Oc­to­ber 2015 he’d had sex with Ti­ahleigh amid fears the young girl was preg­nant.

Within hours it is al­leged Ti­ahleigh was mur­dered.

On Thurs­day, Thor­burn was given a head sen­tence of four years’ im­pris­on­ment af­ter plead­ing guilty to four charges in­clud­ing in­cest at the Been­leigh district court.

With time al­ready served, Thor­burn’s sen­tence will be sus­pended for five years on 20 Jan­uary 2018.

The court heard Thor­burn had sex with Ti­ahleigh on at least one oc­ca­sion in Oc­to­ber 2015.

Con­cerned she was preg­nant, Thor­burn re­vealed what had hap­pened in a Face­book mes­sen­ger con­ver­sa­tion with his cousin.

Fol­low­ing his cousin’s ad­vice, Thor­burn then con­fessed to his mother, an ac­tion crown prose­cu­tor David Nar­done said was the “cat­a­lyst” to Ti­ahleigh’s death.

Judge Craig Chowd­hury said Thor­burn en­gaged in “a sus­tained, im­moral and dis­grace­ful plan” with other fam­ily mem­bers to cover up Ti­ahleigh’s death.

Thor­burn’s bar­ris­ter Robert East said his client never ex­pected Ti­ahleigh to be killed and had de­scribed “wak­ing up the next morn­ing hop­ing it was all a bad dream but it be­came a liv­ing night­mare”.

East said his client had lied out of “mis­guided loy­alty” to his fam­ily and would have to live with the knowl­edge his mis­con­duct led to “an in­no­cent life be­ing lost”.

Af­ter Ti­ahleigh’s body was dis­cov­ered on the banks of the Pim­pama River in Novem­ber 2015, Thor­burn de­nied hav­ing sex with her to po­lice on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions.

He also made false state­ments and tes­ti­mony at two Crime and Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion hear­ings

into his knowl­edge of Ti­ahleigh’s death.

Judge Chowd­hury said Thor­burn had failed in his obli­ga­tion to do the right thing.

“You needed to man up and your fail­ure to do so is a shock­ing re­flec­tion on you,” Judge Chowd­hury said.

Ti­ahleigh’s mother Cindy Palmer, who was in the court for the sen­tenc­ing, said Thurs­day’s out­come was just the sec­ond step in the quest for jus­tice for her daugh­ter.

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