Tiahleigh Palmer’s foster brother could be freed by January next year after being sentenced to four years in jail on Thursday afternoon.
Trent Thorburn pleaded guilty to four charges, including incest, after admitting to his mother in 2015 that he had had sex with then 12-year-old Palmer.
Thorburn also pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert justice and perjury.
After serving almost a year in pre-sentence custody, his sentence will be wholly suspended for a period of five years on January 20, 2018, Judge Chowdhury said at the Beenleigh District Court on Thursday.
Palmer was living with her foster family at the Gold Coast when she disappeared in 2015. Her body was later found on the banks of the Gold Coast river.
Her foster father Rick Thorburn was arrested for her murder and is awaiting trial.
Thursday’s sentencing sparked a flurry of angry responses on social media with people calling it “pathetic” and “sickening”.
It comes after the Federal Government launched what it’s called the “toughest crackdown on paedophiles in a generation”. The government will seek to introduce legislation to increase minimum sentences for those accused of sexual crimes against children.
The proposed changes will affect those arrested who groom children online, those that transmit child pornography, and those that travel outside Australia to commit child sex offences.
If successful, courts will be forced to set a minimum sentence of 25 per cent of the maximum jail time the offence carries.
However, the rules do not apply to cases, such as Thorburn’s, which are handled by state courts around the country.