Cindy Palmer outside court after the sentencing of Rick Thorburn on Friday. Picture: Darren England
Cindy Palmer outside court after the sentencing of Rick Thorburn on Friday. Picture: Darren England

Tiahleigh’s mum tells of struggle

TIAHLEIGH Palmer's mother Cindy Palmer agreed to give up her daughter just eight days before she was slain by her foster father Rick Thorburn.

She had been in temporary care for about five years before she moved in with the Thorburns in January 2015.

By October that year, she was dead.

Rick and his wife Julene Thorburn became foster carers in August 2014 and met Tia about one month after signing up.

She began visiting their Chambers Flat property for "respite" on weekends before they became her temporary, but full-time carers early in 2015.

"…There was then a stakeholder meeting, which was on the 21st of October 2015, at which time Cindy Palmer, Tia's biological mother attended and relinquished full-time care of Tia," crown prosecutor Carl Heaton QC told the Supreme Court during Rick Thorburn's murder sentencing on Friday.

Cindy Palmer: “Every day I am forced to think about and relive the unimaginable and horrendous end of my daughter’s life.” Picture: Darren England
Cindy Palmer: “Every day I am forced to think about and relive the unimaginable and horrendous end of my daughter’s life.” Picture: Darren England

Despite the court hearing that Ms Palmer had once been unable to care for both her children and "put them into care for their wellbeing", her victim impact statement painted a picture of a grieving mother still struggling to come to terms with the loss of her daughter.

Ms Palmer said she still relived the "unimaginable and horrendous end" to her daughter's life almost every day.

"I cannot go out into public alone. I fear someone will recognise me and then publicly blame and shame me for what happened to Tiahleigh … that blame should fall on you, not me," she said in reference to Thorburn.

Ms Palmer arrived at court on Friday flanked by detectives.

She had freshly dyed purple hair in memory of Tia.

In the courtroom, she sat less than 4m from her daughter's killer as he was sentenced for the brutal slaying of the girl.

It was the end of a long road for Ms Palmer who said she had spent years being trolled online and receiving death threats, she said in the statement.

 

Tiahleigh and Cindy Palmer.
Tiahleigh and Cindy Palmer.

 

"I have had to uproot my family due to this horror you have created for me and my family. I have had to change schools and move houses for our safety," she said.

"I am tormented daily (by) visions of my children being injured and see the worst possible scenario of any regular outing, and the thoughts of something bad happening to them even long after the outing is over.

"Every day I am forced to think about and relive the unimaginable and horrendous end of my daughter's life.

"Every day I must endure the pain and heartbreak of not only my own pain and loss but also to help and guide my other three children through their own struggles with this, which is a constant battle and overwhelming for us all."

Ms Palmer said Tia's brother had been bullied at school since the murder.

"He … had to defend himself against physical attacks by people about how Tiahleigh died," Ms Palmer said.

 

Cindy Palmer and her supporters outside the Supreme Court. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England
Cindy Palmer and her supporters outside the Supreme Court. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England

 

Tia's mother, who has attended almost every court date since the Thorburns were charged, said she had spent years trying to get justice.

"Because of your actions I will not only never see Tiahleigh's beautiful face again or see her cheeky smile, but I will also never see her grow up," she said.

"I will not watch her graduate or go to her school formal.

"I will not be able to teach her to do her makeup, which she loved.

"I will not see her become an adult, drive a car, have children of her own or live a full life.

"We will never have lunch dates, go shopping, enjoy birthdays or Christmases together ever again.

"Tiahleigh was a beautiful young girl who had her entire life to look forward to.

"You took that from me, from our family and from Tiahleigh.

"I will never forgive you for that. Nor will I ever forget."