The principal of a prestigious Sydney school where a water polo instructor was found dead has issued a powerful message about the “horrors of evil” in a letter to parents, as police recovered a body on Friday.

Lilie James, a 21-year-old staff member at St Andrew’s Cathedral School in Sydney’s CBD, was found with “serious head injuries” in the gym bathroom by police just after midnight on Wednesday. She was reportedly beaten to death with a hammer.

Cops launched a full-scale hunt for her colleague, 24-year-old sports coach Paul Thijssen, who she recently broke up with after dating for five weeks, and who was seen on CCTV leaving the gym on Wednesday.

A body was recovered on Friday afternoon from the area he was reported to have gone missing.

The school’s Principal McGonigle sent a letter to parents on Friday, expressing her concern for the families involved, before stating she would not let the tragedy “define” the community.

“We are deeply concerned for the families directly involved in this incident and I am personally committed to aligning our communications with what is respectful to them and in lock step with the NSW Police,” she wrote, according to the Daily Mail.

“I will not move at a pace that ignores those priorities.

“Thank you sincerely for the love and support you are generously giving at this time – as I will share with staff today – the horrors of evil, do not and will not define our community, that is my oath.

“Thank you for partnering with me in that commitment.”

Flowers have been laid outside St Andrew’s Cathedral School, as the community grieves Ms James, who has been remembered as a “vibrant” and “outgoing” person.
Ms James’ father, Jamie, said the family was “devastated and heartbroken by the loss of our beautiful Lilie James”, in a statement read out to NCA NewsWrire

“She was vibrant, outgoing and very much loved by her friends and family,” he said, stopping multiple times to gather himself.

“We are tremendously grateful for the support of the community at this difficult time.”

Body recovered

The letter to parents comes as police recovered a body from the rocks at the base of the cliffs in Vaucluse, Sydney, on Friday.

Police were searching the area after tracing a triple-zero call made by Mr Thijssen to The Gap. There, they found an abandoned backpack with some of Mr Thijssen’s belongings.

Investigators have established a forensics tent and a wide perimeter at the bottom of Diamond Bay Reserve.

The body was brought to the park by a police rescue team on foot after boat and helicopter rescues were called off.

It was spotted by tradies working on a construction site at the top of the cliff just after 8am and a retrieval operation was launched in dangerous conditions.

“A police operation is currently underway to retrieve a body in Vaucluse,” NSW Police said in an earlier statement. “No further information is available at this time.”

A police spokeswoman was unable to confirm to news.com.au whether the body was that of Mr Thijssen, who is wanted for questioning over the death of his colleague Ms James.

In an eerie twist, a close friend exclusively told news.com.au the pair were spotted at the same park together just three weeks before the brutal murder.

Ms James reportedly fought with Mr Thijssen before her death

According to an exclusive report by The Daily Telegraph, Ms James and Mr Thijssen had only broken up days ago after dating for five weeks.

The publication states the pair are believed to have met up inside the school building on Wednesday night where a fight ensued.

CCTV obtained by police reportedly shows Mr Thijssen following Ms James into the gym bathroom, before he is seen leaving the area over an hour later.

Four hours later, Mr Thijssen reportedly rang police to inform them of a body on school grounds which should be investigated.

Officers soon arrived at the school where they were met with a “confronting” scene.

It’s understood Mr Thijssen — who comes from a privileged family — moved to Australia from the Netherlands in 2015 and began studying at St Andrew’s.

He had been a sports captain as a student, graduating in 2017.

Mr Thijssen later secured a job as a cricket and hockey coach after graduating.

– With NCA Newswire

Read related topics:Sydney


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