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Cops searching for a sports coach suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend have descended on a cliffside park in Sydney’s east amid reports a body had been found on the rocks below.

But in an eerie twist, a close friend has claimed the pair were spotted at the same park together just three weeks before the brutal murder.

Lilie James, 21, was found dead inside the gym bathroom at Sydney elite St Andrew’s Cathedral school – where she worked as a water polo instructor – just before midnight on Wednesday.

She was reportedly beaten to death with a hammer.

Her ex-lover Paul Thijssen, 24, who she had only dated for five weeks and recently split up with, made the call to police hours after CCTV captured him leaving the school gym.

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

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

On Friday morning they set up a second crime scene, three kilometres down the road, at Diamond Bay Reserve, after receiving reports there was a body on the rocks.

Concerned parents at the scene told news.com.au their child was close friends with Ms James and claimed she had been seen at the same park with her suspected killer “three weeks ago”.

Ongoing police operation to retrieve body

Police investigating Ms James’ murder raced to the edge of the cliffs at Diamond Bay Reserve under lights and sirens after a body was found in the water just after 8am on Friday.

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 Daily Telegraph.

The operation then stalled due to tough conditions.

The scene around the cliff’s edge is taped off with a police crew in attendance. Conditions in the ocean look rough with a large swell running along the cliffs.

Crews are expected to attempt retrieval again on Friday afternoon after a winching operation involving the Westpac chopper was called off earlier due to strong winds and rain.

Suspected killer dated murder victim for five weeks

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 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.

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”.

Read related topics:Sydney

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By Rahul

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