Another Good Bloke.

So here’s another man we already know too much about.

Paul Thijssen was 24.

He was a school prefect, graduated from St Andrews Cathedral School in Sydney in 2017.

He played cricket and hockey and he was good at those things. So good that teaching sport became his job, both at St Andrews and at another school in Sydney’s east. 

His parents travelled a lot.

He had studied business at uni.

He lived and worked in the most affluent, prestigious pocket of one of the world’s most beautiful, affluent cities. 

And also. It is extremely likely that on this past Wednesday afternoon, he murdered a young woman called Lilie James.

Watch: Police find body as they search for a man wanted over murder of Lilie James. Post continues after the video.

Video via Youtube/ABC News Australia.

Then he called the police to tell them where to find her. And took his own life. 

Lilie James was a 21-year-old colleague of Thijssen’s who had been dating him, by all reports, for about five weeks, but then stopped. 


So, it seems, he killed her. 

We know a lot of things about Paul Thijssen because, in the aftermath of this tragedy and horror, much has been written about him. In the rush to understand what kind of person could beat another to death on an ordinary Wednesday, at their place of work, in the middle of a city of five million people, stories are written about character, pastime, history, and the same conclusion is almost always drawn. 

He was a nice guy. A good guy. Who would ever have imagined it. 

It’s called the Good Bloke Effect. Good Bloke reporting. And family violence campaigners rightfully call it out every time: There is nothing “good” about these men. The suggested narrative is that they were just ordinary guys, driven to do what they did by demanding, deranged women. 

It’s an old and dangerous trope. 

And yet, it’s also useful. 

The men who kill women do not look like monsters. They are not easy to pick out in a room. They don’t come marked with a zig-zag scar across one eye or drag a tail behind them. 

They are private school boys who drive silver Lexuses, like Paul Thijssen. They are account managers who live in suburban Queensland, like Matthew Cox, charged with the murder of his wife Tayla and of Murphy, their 11-week old baby girl, in August this year. They are drug-dealing bikies like Perth’s Luke Noormets who murdered Georgia Lyall, the mother of his baby son, before taking his own life. And they are fund managers, like 61-year-old Anthony “Tony” Eriksen, charged with stabbing his partner of 13 years, Lisa Fenwick, to death in Sydney’s Mascot in April this year. 


They are teenagers and pensioners, twenty-somethings and midlife men. They are boyfriends and husbands and exes. So often, exes. 

Like Paul Thijssen. Photos of Thijssen conjure a young man with every advantage. White, blonde, handsome. Sporty and smart. Internationally educated. A male with the kind of drive and confidence that saw him call the Department of Immigration daily until his most recent visa application was approved.

Photos of Lilie James conjure similar potential. White, blonde, beautiful. She was studying sports business at UTS, an excellent school. Her parents say she was “vibrant, outgoing and very much loved.” She was teaching water polo at St Andrews while she studied. She had lots of friends, an infectious smile.  

They both had everything ahead of them but he had the power to take it all from her, and he did. 

In the face of such senseless waste, loss and suffering, the urge to dehumanise the perpetrator is entirely understandable. Especially when the Good Bloke narrative is so ubiquitous, and so often used to point to women as corrupters.

But what if, rather than to examine these men’s lives searching for some imagined motive, some defect, “reason” or “excuse”, it’s to come to understand that for all their differences and similarities, the men who kill Australian women at a rate of at least one a week ARE just ordinary men. And that’s the terrifying part. 


One woman a week is an unbearable, seemingly immovable number. Lilie is the 55th Australian woman to be murdered this year. 

But it’s not the full picture. At least 3,600 women are admitted to hospital each year as a result of assault. Five thousand calls are placed to police about domestic and family violence every WEEK. 

So many ordinary men. So many average monsters who look like your friend, your brother, your father, your boss, your boyfriend, your husband. 

And so many women, like Lilie James, who must never be forgotten. Lost at the hands of such good blokes.

If you or anyone you know needs to speak with an expert, please contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) — the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service. When it comes to mental health concerns, contact Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) or Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636), all of which provide trained counsellors you can talk with 24/7. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.

Mamamia is a charity partner of RizeUp Australia, a Queensland-based organisation that helps women and families move on after the devastation of domestic violence. If you would like to support their mission to deliver life-changing and practical support to these families when they need it most, you can donate here.

Featured Image: Supplied