Fingerprints identify body in manhunt for Paul Thijssen

Body in the water

Police have confirmed a body found in waters off a Sydney cliff on Friday is Paul Thijssen, 24, as the wanted man’s final hours were revealed on CCTV.

Police said the alleged killer’s body was identified using fingerprints which were cross referenced with prints from the Netherlands embassy.

His remains were recovered on Friday at Vaucluse, an exclusive cliff-edge suburb in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

Police had been searching for Thijssen after the body of colleague Lilie James was found battered to death in a bathroom at elite St Andrew’s Cathedral School in the city.

Security cameras picked up Thijssen, a sports coach at the school, at the Vaucluse clifftop in the hours after James’ lifeless body was discovered on Wednesday night.

In the footage, Thijssen’s silver Lexus can be seen pulling over in front of homes on Chris Bang Crescent around 8.47pm before he gets out and walks down the dark street.

Dressed in black, the Sydney sports coach walks at a steady pace along the coastal footpath to the other end of the street which is off-camera.

He then returns and walks back to his parked vehicle before driving off to another location around the corner and sitting in his car.

The Daily Telegraph quotes police sources who said Thijssen had been walking towards a bin which was later cordoned off and declared part of a crime scene.

Police sources alleged Thijssen may have dumped the suspected murder weapon – a hammer – into the bin, the newspaper reports.

A couple of hours later at around midnight, he reportedly contacted police who then made the horrific discovery in the St Andrew’s gymnasium bathroom.

The body of Lilie James, 22,  was located with serious head injuries just before midnight on Wednesday.

She had reportedly been in a relationship with Thijssen for a few weeks in the lead-up to her violent death.

James’ heartbroken family on Friday described her as “vibrant, outgoing, and very much loved by her family and friends”.

“We are devastated and heartbroken by the loss of our beautiful Lilie James,” they said.

Investigators had been hunting for Thijssen since the horrific crime scene was uncovered.

His body was located on Friday morning below the clifftop Diamond Bay Reserve.

Items linked to the killing of Lilie James were also found at Diamond Bay Reserve.

Police search the cliff edge at Vaucluse, Sydney, on Friday. Photo: AAP

Surf lifesavers on jet skis were earlier seen trawling the nearby shoreline while police rescue personnel abseiled down the sheer cliffs to reach the rocks below.

Detectives previously said they were looking at the possibility Thijssen had taken his own life after James’ death and they were not looking for any other suspects in relation to the killing.

Thijssen graduated from St Andrew’s in 2017 and worked there as an assistant sports coach, according to his Linkedin profile.

Police have been talking to witnesses and also combing CCTV from the school to piece together the events that led up to the killing.

Superintendent Martin Fileman previously said officers were presented with a “confronting” scene when they arrived at the school due to the severity of James’ injuries.

St Andrew’s Cathedral School has been closed to students until next week.

Premier Chris Minns on Thursday described the young woman’s killing as a “horrible crime”.

“It’s one of the worst that I’ve seen in my public life and I can only imagine what the family is going through right now,” he said.

lilie james paul thijssen

Police found the body of Paul Thijssen in the manhunt for Lilie James’ killer.

An evening prayer service for staff, students and families was held at the school that night as floral tributes to the young staff member were left outside the building.

The school has been closed to students until next week and counsellors made available to pupils and parents.

Lifeline 13 11 14

beyondblue 1300 22 4636

-with AAP

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