Murder victim Tiahleigh Palmer
Murder victim Tiahleigh Palmer

Tia’s mum sues state over murder

THE mother of murdered schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer has launched a lawsuit against the State Government and the foster care agency that placed her daughter with her killer.

Cindy Lee Palmer, who now calls herself Cindy Uluave, is claiming undisclosed damages from the State Government or foster care agency Key Assets over the slaying that shocked Queensland and sparked a review into the foster care and Blue Card systems.

The young Crestmead mum is set to argue she suffered trauma when 12-year-old Tiahleigh was killed by Rick Thorburn and sexually assaulted by her foster brother Trent, after the agency placed her to live with the Thorburn family.

Rick Thorburn is serving life in jail for murdering Tiahleigh to protect his son who feared Tiahleigh was pregnant with his child.

This month, a Supreme Court registrar green lit Ms Palmer's case, brought under the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act, to proceed.


Tiahleigh Palmer, 12, was killed by her foster father.
Tiahleigh Palmer, 12, was killed by her foster father.



She died in October 2015.
She died in October 2015.




The case is in a pre-court disclosure phase where lawyers for both sides are likely to meet behind closed doors to exchange mandatory final offers of a financial settlement, or the case will return to court.

Both Ms Palmer and her lawyer declined to comment about the case yesterday.

No future court date has been set.

Legal expert Bill Potts said cases like Ms Palmer's were very rare but not completely unprecedented.

Mr Potts said to succeed Ms Palmer would need to prove the state knew the Thorburn family were unfit to care for Tiahleigh.

"Many people think that litigation is easy, that you can lodge an application in court and the government will pay," he said.

"But the state is not simply responsible for everything done in its name.


Cindy Uluave’s move is unusual but not unprecedented, says a law expert.
Cindy Uluave’s move is unusual but not unprecedented, says a law expert.


"It is a case of a person who has clearly suffered the loss of a child and its obviously distressing for anybody no matter what the circumstances, but it's a long bow to draw to demonstrate the state was somehow responsible."

Tiahleigh was sent to live with the Thorburn family in January 2015, at their home in Chambers Flat, near Logan.

She was killed - most likely by smothering - at the home late on October 29, while Rick Thorburn's wife Julene and their two sons were out.

The family pretended she went to school the next morning and reported her missing that day.

Her body was found six days later on the banks of the Pimpama River on the Gold Coast, but pathologists could not determine how she died because she was decomposed.

In an interview with 60 Minutes Ms Palmer said she gave her daughter up, aged seven, during a severe domestic ­violence situation because she thought it was the safest option.


Foster father Rick Thorburn is serving a life sentence for murder.
Foster father Rick Thorburn is serving a life sentence for murder.


"I actually went to the department for help because I realised that one day I was just going to die and (she) was just going to be left there by (herself)," Ms Palmer told 60 Minutes.

"I still firmly believe that the day I went to the department asking for help, I made the right decision.

"It's not what I wanted and it wasn't the outcome any of us wanted, but at the end of the day I thought it was the safer option."

After Thorburn's sentencing Ms Palmer said Tiahleigh "was a beautiful young girl who had her entire life to look forward to...

"Rick Thorburn took that away from me, and most importantly, Tiahleigh."

Trent Thorburn, who admitted to having sex with his foster sister, was jailed for a maximum of four years after pleading guilty to incest, perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice. He was released on parole in January.

Older brother Joshua was sentenced to three months' jail after pleading guilty to lying to police and hiding information about Tiahleigh's death.

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