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Tiahleigh Palmer: Ethical standards investigates reports Rick Thorburn took pills in custody

ABC News logo ABC News 22/09/2016
Tiahleigh Palmer's body was found by fishermen on a remote stretch of riverbank on the Gold Coast, about 30 kilometres away from her school, six days later. © AAP Image/QLD Police Tiahleigh Palmer's body was found by fishermen on a remote stretch of riverbank on the Gold Coast, about 30 kilometres away from her school, six days later.

The Queensland Police Service's Ethical Standards Command is investigating how the foster father accused of killing schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer collapsed in custody.

Rick Thorburn is reported to have swallowed pills after he was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly murdering the 12-year-old and interfering with her corpse.

He claimed he had dropped her off at school on October 30 last year, but police allege he killed her the night before. The 56-year-old collapsed in the Beenleigh watch house, south of Brisbane, soon after his arrest.

He was in an induced coma in the Princess Alexandra Hospital and missed what was due to be his first court appearance.

Police confirmed this afternoon that Thorburn was awake and had been moved from intensive care to the secure unit of the PA Hospital in a stable condition.

He will remain there overnight under guard.

Police are investigating whether Thorburn ingested something before or during his arrest.

He first became ill at the Logan police station, before he was moved to the Beenleigh watch house, a police spokesperson said.

Thorburn's 19-year-old son Trent was yesterday denied bail over alleged incest with Tiahleigh and perverting the course of justice.

  Trent Thorburn, who has been arrested in connection to the murder of Queensland schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer. © AAP Image/Instagram Trent Thorburn, who has been arrested in connection to the murder of Queensland schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer. Prosecutors told the court Trent, who was working as a dance trainer, had sex with Tiahleigh a week before she died.

The court heard he confided in a cousin that he feared he had gotten Tiahleigh pregnant, even though he thought he had withdrawn before ejaculation.

The court was told Trent had sex with Tiahleigh "because she had threatened to kill his dog".

"Rather than providing her with the care and the love that she required as a child, this defendant betrayed her trust, he abused his position of big brother and took advantage of her and the consequences are, her young life has been taken," police prosecutor Sergeant Ellen French told the court. 

Rick Thornburn is escorted by police from the Logan Central Police Station to the Police Watchhouse in Brisbane. © AAP Image/Dave Hunt Rick Thornburn is escorted by police from the Logan Central Police Station to the Police Watchhouse in Brisbane.

Tiahleighs's foster mother Julene Thorburn and a second foster brother, Josh, are due to face court next month, accused of perjury and perverting the course of justice.

Police alleged Julene was aware of Tiahleigh and Trent's relationship.

Tiahleigh had been placed with the Thorburn family at their Chambers Flat home, south of Brisbane, for months.

Her body was found on the banks of the Pimpama River last November, a week after she was last seen alive.

The case has prompted the Queensland Family and Child Commission to review the blue card child protection system.

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