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Rick Thorburn's 20-year criminal history leads to calls for change to foster care system.

Before foster dad Rick Thorburn murdered Tiahleigh Palmer, the 12-year-old girl in his care, the Queensland father had several run-ins with police.

Breaking and entering, theft and traffic offences including drink driving are just some of the offences Thorburn committed over a 20 year period from 1977 to 1997.

And yet despite all of this, he passed a ‘working with children’ check and was allowed to become Tiahleigh’s foster carer in 2014.

This is because he hadn’t been found guilty of committing any “serious” crimes, such as assault or sexual offences.

Tiahleigh’s tragic fate and her foster father’s life sentence for her murder, has prompted the Queensland Government to vow to review the foster care system and the requirements of foster care candidates.

And Queensland opposition leader Ros Bates thinks it can’t come soon enough, slamming the system that allowed Thorburn to care for children despite a well-documented criminal past.

“I don’t think if you have criminal history as long as your arm, even if it isn’t to do with child offences, that people like him should have ever been considered,” Bates told the Courier Mail.

“Tiahleigh Palmer was never missing. She was right where Child Safety put her, back with her eventual murderer.”

ros-bates
Image: A Current Affair.
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On A Current Affair on Friday she also criticised the decision to place Tiahleigh in a family with two teenage boys.

Tiahleigh's foster brother, Trent Thorburn, now 20, was found guilty of incest, perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice. He was released in January after serving 16 months in jail.

"It was an inappropriate placement. Why on earth would you put a prepubescent girl with two teenage boys?"

However, Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston disagrees with Bates. She told the Courier Mail although the foster care system needed changing, ruling out anyone with a criminal history would make finding adequate care for kids harder than it already is.

"It's easy to criticise but there aren't enough foster carers."

"We need to start looking at a character assessment."

She did add that Rick Thorburn's case did highlight "warning signs" that were not looked for, but now would be.

"This is Tiahleigh’s legacy."

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