Diligent detectives used footage to prove Rick Thorburn drove past his victim’s school instead of dropping her off. Picture: AAP Image/Dave Hunt
Diligent detectives used footage to prove Rick Thorburn drove past his victim’s school instead of dropping her off. Picture: AAP Image/Dave Hunt

The technology that brought killer unstuck

POLICE used CCTV scanning technology only available in the UK during the hunt for Tiahleigh Palmer's killer.

And diligent detectives used footage to prove Thorburn drove past his victim's school instead of dropping her off.

Police collected more than 50,000 hours of security footage, Homicide Investigation Unit detective Inspector Damien Hansen said yesterday.

Tiahleigh Palmer was last seen outside her high school in October 2015.  File picture
Tiahleigh Palmer was last seen outside her high school in October 2015. File picture

"The family gave us a very plausible version - that she was dropped off at school," he said. "We then collected in excess of 50,000 hours of CCTV."

Insp Hansen said they did not have the ability to scour through 50,000 hours of CCTV for Tiahleigh or Thorburn's blue Ford Falcon.

"We didn't know what we were looking for at that stage. You look for a blue Falcon, you look for a 12-year-old girl, it is really difficult … physically, you cannot look at 50,000 hours CCTV," he said.

Insp Hansen said police flew the footage to London where local police used an algorithm to scan it for Tiahleigh and Thorburn's car.

Police leading Rick Thorburn into Logan Police Station for questioning in 2016. File picture.
Police leading Rick Thorburn into Logan Police Station for questioning in 2016. File picture.

"We had video of Tiahleigh walking and doing dancing … and they looked at the biomechanics of her movements and gait," he said.

"They were able to look at that and look at vehicle shapes and we were confident … that we did not pick her or Rick's vehicle up (on CCTV)."

Detectives also tracked the path of a truck that also drove past Tiahleigh's school the morning Thorburn claimed to have dropped her at the gate.

The court heard Thorburn lied about dropping her off - he had murdered her the night before - and police were able to prove the lie by following the truck in relation to its proximity to Rick's blue car.

The truck did not pull into the school and footage showed the blue car maintained the same distance from it.



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