Friday, May 25th, 2018 - Insight Communications








BRAVEHEARTS Founder and Executive Chair, Hetty Johnston AM has slammed the possibility of Rick Thorburn getting parole in 2036 after he was sentenced to life in prison by Justice David Boddice in the Supreme Court in Brisbane today following Thorburn’s guilty plea to the brutal murder of 12-year-old schoolgirl, Tiahleigh Palmer.


“While Thorburn received a life sentence, it’s extremely disappointing that the courts have chosen or have been required to apply a non-parole period of 20-years - Life should be life.


“This man callously and maliciously planned and carried out the brutal murder of a precious, innocent 12-year-old girl and then left her body to rot on a river bank.  He should never ever see the light of day beyond prison again,” Ms Johnston said.


“While Justice Boddice may well have had no choice other than to deliver a non-parole period, clearly the system has to change so that a life sentence can mean “life behind bars” for the worst type of human and Rick Thorburn is one of those worst of the worst. 


“There is no place in Australian society for Rick Thorburn the perpetrator of this most heinous crime or anyone who could do what he did to this little girl in such a calculated, premeditated, manipulative and deceptive way.


“Tiahleigh was a precious, vulnerable little girl who was supposed to be safe in the care of the Thorburn family but Rick, Julene, Trent and Josh Thorburn - every single one of them, betrayed her.  How anyone could do what they have done is beyond the comprehension of Australian society.


While a ‘life’ sentence without parole for Thorburn can never undo the hurt and suffering Tiahleigh endured at the hands of this family, it could give many of us who fight to protect children, a sense that justice has been done in her name,” she said.


Following the circumstances surrounding Tiahleigh’s disappearance and murder investigation, Bravehearts has worked closely with Qld Families and Children Commission to make positive changes so we can better protect vulnerable children like Tiahleigh.


Because of her care status and the protocols at the time Tiahleigh went missing, her disappearance was not made public by QLD Police until November 5 2015 - 5 days after she had failed to arrive at Marsden State High School in Logan, south of Brisbane.


“Among the 29 QFCC recommendations is that all schools must now report unexplained absences immediately to parents and carers and Amber Alerts can now be issued immediately by police without the delays caused through the process of gaining permission from other government departments,” Ms Johnston said.


On September 7, 2017, a Queensland Government review into the foster care approvals system and the issuing of Blue Cards recommended sweeping changes including improved criminal checks of carers.


“In memory of Tiahleigh, I'm very proud to be part of the Queensland Families and Children's Commission Blue Card and Foster Care system review that will be her Legacy,” said Ms Johnston.


For information on Bravehearts’ child protection programs and how organisations can help protect children please visit our website or call Bravehearts on 1800 272 831. 


#Bravehearts #ProtectOutKids @BraveheartsProtectKids #LifeShouldBeLife


For Bravehearts interview requests with Hetty Johnston AM, please contact Insight Communications

Clare Collins - P: 02 9518 4744 – E: [email protected]

Alice Collins - P: 02 9518 4744 –  E: [email protected]

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Hetty Johnston, Bravehearts, TIAHLEIGH PALMER, Child Protection, Rick Thorburn, Prison sentence, Justice David Boddice, life imprisonment, Queensland Families and Children's Commission Blue Card




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