The body retrieved from Sydney Harbour has been confirmed as that of Paul Thijssen, 24, the sports coach implicated in the murder of a teacher at the esteemed St Andrew’s Cathedral School. Thijssen, originally from the Netherlands, and the victim, Lilie James, 21, were involved romantically before parting ways a week prior.
Police found Ms. James with grievous head injuries in the school gym’s bathroom after receiving a distress call from Thijssen late Wednesday night. Upon arriving, officers determined that Ms. James had been brutally attacked with a hammer.
The subsequent investigation traced Thijssen’s phone call to “The Gap” in Vaucluse, a location infamous for suicides. A couple of days later, a body was recovered from the vicinity of the cliff at Diamond Bay Reserve. Identification was confirmed through fingerprint matching with records held at the Dutch embassy, as per the Daily Mail.
CCTV footage portrayed Thijssen’s last hours. Cameras captured him near The Gap, where he might have discarded the alleged murder weapon. The footage then shows him returning to his vehicle and moving to another cliff site.
Earlier that evening, CCTV revealed Thijssen following Ms. James into the gym’s bathroom. He exited over an hour later and subsequently called the police to report the discovery of a body at the school.
Thijssen, belonging to a well-off family, relocated to Australia in 2015. He was an alumnus of St Andrew’s and became a cricket and hockey coach post-graduation. He remained isolated in Australia during the peak of the Covid pandemic and reunited with his family in the Netherlands later. Sources indicate that this period might have impacted Thijssen’s mental health.
Parents of St Andrew’s students were promptly informed about the critical incident. A text message from the school on Thursday stated the closure due to the incident and clarified that no students were implicated. The school further assured parents that an ongoing police investigation was in progress.