Tiahleigh Palmer: Foster brother charged with incest denied bail

By Andrew Kos, staff

The foster brother accused of the incest of slain Queensland schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer is refused bail for a second time, amid allegations he may have been involved with other underage girls.

Tialeigh’s foster father Rick Thorburn was charged with her murder in September, almost a year after her body was found on the banks of a Gold Coast river.

Police claim Rick Thorburn was trying to cover up the alleged incest by his son Trent at the family’s Chambers Flat home at Logan, south of Brisbane.

Today, Trent Thorburn, 19, was denied bail in the Supreme Court in Brisbane, making it the second time his application was refused.

He is charged with incest, perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice, for the alleged false testimony given to secret Corruption and Crime Commission hearings into Tiahleigh’s death.

The court heard police believed Trent Thorburn, who had been working as a dance teacher, could be at risk of reoffending as Tiahleigh may not have been the first underage girl with whom he had a relationship.

“The respondent points to the fact he is involved in dance classes and would have contact with children ranging in age,” Justice Bond said.

“Police believe that if the defendant were released on bail he poses an unacceptable risk of offending against other children.

“I do note that there is material exhibited … that suggests the alleged offending between the applicant and an underage girl with Tialeigh is not the first occasion that he may have been involved in that conduct.”
Justice Bond noted Trent Thorburn had sought to impose a bail condition that he not have unsupervised contact with females under the age of 16, arguing that would be sufficient to reduce the risk of him committing an offence of that nature.

However, he denied bail, deeming Trent Thorburn an unacceptable risk of interfering with witnesses and failing to appear in court.

Defence admits case is strong

Trent Thorburn’s defence barrister Catherine Morgan told the court the crown’s case against him appeared “strong”.

“In essence this young man engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with a very young girl and then events which were outside his control occurred and he was untruthful it’s alleged, with the full knowledge that he was being untruthful,” Ms Morgan said.


“There is no suggestion that the applicant was the instigator of a plan to as it were pervert the course of justice, indeed it would seem that that was instigated by another or others.”

But Prosecutor Jacob Robson said the nature of Trent Thorburn’s alleged offending should be enough for him to be denied bail.

“To the extent that could be accepted it’s not particularly significant given the lengths that he did go to after efforts in that direction began, and he’s clearly been an enthusiastic participant thereafter,” he said.

Trent Thorburn’s bail application came hours after his case and his father’s matter were briefly mentioned at the Beenleigh Magistrates Court.

Rick Thorburn’s lawyer Adam Dwyer told the court he was seeking a psychiatric evaluation of his client before the next appearance, which was set for February 22.

Trent Thorburn’s case was also adjourned to the same date.

Tiahleigh’s mother says grief not getting easier

Tiahleigh’s body was found on the banks of the Pimpama River last November, a week after she was last seen alive when she was dropped off at Marsden State High School, south of Brisbane, by Rick Thorburn.

A missing-person alert was not issue until six days later, hours before her body was found by three fishermen.

Foster mother Julene Thorburn, 54, and other son Josh, 20, have also been charged with perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Tiahleigh’s mother Cindy Palmer was relieved Trent was denied bail.

“Tiahleigh doesn’t get to spend time with her family, so neither should he,” she said outside court.

“It’s quiet raw, it still bring me to tears every time I hear something.
“I’m just lucky I have support, because it is not going to get any easier.

“I come to court because I look for information, anything I can get about what has happened.

“To make sure that justice will prevail for Tiahleigh.”

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

© 2016 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved. Read the ABC Disclaimer here

00:00 / ???