A body has been found in the water off the cliffs at Vaucluse, police sources have told The Daily Telegraph.

Police investigating the murder of 21-year-old water polo instructor Lilie James raced to the edge of the cliffs in Vaucluse under lights and sirens on Friday morning.

A body was found just after 8am and a Westpac rescue chopper has arrived at the scene as police prepare for a retrieval operation.

A police spokesman was unable to confirm to news.com.au whether the body was that of 24-year-old coach Paul Thijssen, who is wanted for questioning over the death of Ms James.

Officers were seen speaking with construction workers in the area and rescue jet skis were seen at the base of the cliffs, according to the newspaper.

Lilie James, a staff member at St Andrew’s Cathedral School in Sydney’s CBD, was found with “serious head injuries” by police just after midnight on Wednesday.

The young water polo instructor was allegedly killed with a hammer before she was discovered by police in a “confronting” scene.

According to the Daily Mail, the 21-year-old, who had been dating her colleague Paul Thijssen, was allegedly bashed to death with a hammer.

The Sydney Morning Herald citied police sources not authorised to speak publicly on the investigation who also said Ms James’ wounds were inflicted by a hammer.

Police launched a full-scale hunt for 24-year-old sports coach Paul Thijssen, who is also a former pupil of the school.

According to an exclusive report by The Daily Telegraph, the pair 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 footage 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 after Ms James’ family alerted police as she hadn’t returned home.

Police traced the triple-zero call to The Gap, a notorious suicide spot in Vaucluse, where they found an abandoned backpack with some of Thijssen’s belongings.

Detective Superintendent Martin Fileman said on Thursday morning they were investigating whether Mr Thijssen had killed himself in the area.

Investigators also found “an item linked to the homicide”, Superintendent Fileman confirmed.

There is no indication of a history of domestic violence between the two people, Mr Fileman said before confirming staff members had been called in after the “extremely daunting experience” for detectives who arrived at the 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.

He spent 18 months alone in Australia during the Covid pandemic, before reuniting with his family in the Netherlands, according to the Daily Mail.

An unmanned source told the publication the 24-year-old may have been affected by this dark time, however, noted he is “not psychotic”.

Parents of students were told of the “critical incident” via text message from the school.

“SACS is closed today and Friday (26-27 Oct) due to a critical incident. Yr12 exams will be held in BBC as normal. Yr5 camp will continue as normal. Mr Swibel,” it read.

An update later in the morning read: “No students were involved in the incident. Police are currently conducting an investigation in the SAH building. We will keep you updated. Mr Swibel.”

“St Andrew’s Cathedral School remains closed today to all students except those sitting Year 12 exams, as the school continues to work with Police following an onsite death overnight,” a spokesperson from the school said.

“No students were involved, and there is no ongoing threat.

“An area of the school, not accessible to students, is a crime zone, and we await the approval of police before bringing everyone back on site.”

Detective Superintendent described the scene as “quite confronting” for first responders.

– with NCA Newswire

Read related topics:Sydney


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