Search for colleague after young woman found murdered inside private school gym

UPDATE: Relationship at centre of Sydney school staffer’s horrific murder revealed

Police are searching for a woman’s colleague after she was found dead inside a bathroom at a private school in Sydney’s CBD.

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Lilie James, a 22-year-old water polo coach, was found dead inside a gym bathroom at St Andrew’s Cathedral School, where she worked, just before midnight on Wednesday following a concern for welfare report.

Sydney City Police Area Commander Superintendent Martin Fileman said she had suffered serious head injuries.

“From her injuries, it was apparent she was a victim of a homicide,” he told reporters on Thursday morning.

Fileman added that the crime scene was “confronting”.

A crime scene was established at the school, with a second scene established about 11km away at Vaucluse, in Sydney’s east.

“Property associated with the homicide” was located at the Vaucluse scene.

Lilie James was found dead at the school. Credit: Facebook
St Andrew’s Cathedral School remains a crime scene. Credit: Bianca De Marchi /AAP
Paul Thijssen is now the subject of a police search. Credit: LinkedIn

Police are now searching for Paul Thijssen and are patrolling the coastline off South Head.

Thijssen, aged in his 20s, is understood to also be a staff member at St Andrew’s.

His LinkedIn shows a long history between Thijssen and the school.

He attended the school as a student from 2015 to 2017, where he was a sports captain and part of the school leadership team.

He then took on a sports assistant role the following year, before heading home to the Netherlands to attend university.

After completing his degree, he came back to Australia and has been associated with St Andrew’s once more since 2020.

7NEWS understands Thijssen was the hockey coach at St Vincent’s College in Potts Point for some time, and was until this morning listed on the school’s website.

He was listed as the hockey coach for the school’s most recent season.

The 22-year-old was found dead at the school after a concern for welfare report. Credit: Facebook
A second crime scene has been established at Vaucluse. Credit: 7NEWS

Police are speaking to a number of witnesses and also combing CCTV from the school as part of their investigation.

Fileman said the death would be confronting for students as it involved school staff.

“We’re currently working in with the school to ensure the welfare of the students and they have measures in place to make sure those students are taken care of,” he said.

St Andrew’s has sent a statement to parents and carers of students, advising them the school will be closed for the remainder of the week to all students except those sitting their Year 12 exams.

“No students were involved and there is no ongoing threat,” the school said.

“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.”

The school has brought in counsellors to offer professional support to students and parents.

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