'Vibrant' Lilie James celebrated and farewelled

By Sam McKeith and Duncan Murray
Updated November 17 2023 - 4:05pm, first published 4:02pm
Lilie James was found dead in a gymnasium bathroom at an elite Sydney private school in October. (HANDOUT/NSW POLICE)
Lilie James was found dead in a gymnasium bathroom at an elite Sydney private school in October. (HANDOUT/NSW POLICE)

Hundreds of mourners have gathered to celebrate the life of young water polo coach Lilie James, who was brutally killed at the Sydney school where she worked.

Friends and family members, many dressed in brightly coloured clothes in the 21-year-old's honour, gathered at her former school to remember the vivacious woman on Friday.

Premier Chris Minns was among those who attended the service at Danebank Anglican School for Girls in Hurstville, which was also live-streamed for a crowd gathered inside St Andrew's Cathedral in the city centre.

Her white casket, adorned with flowers, was carried into the service by pallbearers who included her father.

Mr James said the day was about celebrating his daughter's life.

"She was an independent, vibrant young woman who was always on the go and lived each day to the fullest," he said in a statement.

St Andrew's Cathedral School said the service allowed people to reflect on the extraordinary young woman she was and the profound impact she had on students and colleagues at the school where she coached.

"The James family will remain in our prayers, with Lilie in our hearts forever," the school said in a social media post.

Ms James was found dead with horrific head injuries in the inner-city private school's gymnasium toilets just before midnight on October 25.

A day later, police found the body of her suspected killer, 24-year-old Paul Thijssen, who also worked at the school and with whom Ms James had been in a brief relationship.

Police have said they are not looking for any other suspects in relation to her death.

St Andrew's head of school Julie McGonigle previously said the community had been left "bewildered" as they knew both Ms James and Thijssen.

"Our beautiful Ms James, a ray of light, and Mr Thijssen, whose actions are completely incongruent with who we knew," she said.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

Lifeline 13 11 14

Australian Associated Press

Get the latest Lismore news in your inbox

Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.

We care about the protection of your data. Read our Privacy Policy.