Paul Thijssen went to great lengths to plan the murder of his former girlfriend Lilie James, whose killing rocked Australia last week, an inside source revealed exclusively to The Daily Telegraph.

The beloved 21-year-old water polo instructor was found dead in the gym bathroom at elite St Andrew’s School in Sydney.

Thijssen also worked at the school and briefly dated Ms James before she broke up with him.

His body was later found of the city’s east coast.

Also a staff member at the school, the 24-year-old is believed to bludgeoned Ms James to death with a hammer – having bought one earlier that day.

Police found Ms James just before midnight last Wednesday with “serious head injuries”.

Barely a week after the killing, police believe it was premeditated and calculated, not an impulsive act.

The Daily Telegraph reports Thijssen was captured on CCTV on Wednesday morning purchasing a hammer at a hardware store in the city’s east, close to his Kensington home.

Police believe Thijssen armed himself with two hammers, one of which may have come from a school store room.

It is understood the hammer purchased is not the one that was used to kill Ms James.

Thijssen also rented a car the day of the murder and drove it to work at the school.

The source told the newspaper the 24-year-old would have known he needed a getaway car after the attack – “and particularly to get where he went”.

Two hours after he beat Ms James to death, Thijssen was seen on security cameras at Vaucluse – about 12km away from the school. He was seen walking along the footpath, towards a bin where police alleged he dumped the suspected murder weapon.

It was in the east were he called triple-zero to inform authorities there was a body at the school.

He had already used Ms James’ phone after she had been killed to send a text to her father, pretending to be her, asking him to come and pick her up from the school.

Police traced the triple-zero call to The Gap where they found an abandoned backpack with some of Thijssen’s belongings.

On Friday afternoon police retrieved a body, later revealed to be Thijssen’s, from rocks at the base of a cliff at Diamond Bay Reserve, three kilometres down the road.

And in an eerie twist, the 24-year-old apparently brought Ms James to that park just “three weeks” before her death.

The revelation about Thijssen’s trip to the hardware store supports the conclusion reached by top criminal psychologist Tim Watson-Munro, who told the Dutchman “knew exactly what he was doing” that night.

“These men (who kill) know what they’re doing. They’re not insane, they’re aware of the time, place and person,” Mr Watson-Munro said.

He said Thijssen had to “build up to” killing Ms James in the days after she reportedly ended their five week-long relationship.

The psychologist, who has served as an expert witness in criminal cases to determine if the accused was legally insane, said the lengths Thijssen went to before, during and after his murder made him seem like a psychopath.

“The underlying thing is that the men (who do this) are very insecure and feel the need to control.”

Tributes continue to pour in for the slain 21-year-old, whose death has left the St Andrew’s school community, as well as her friends and family “heartbroken”, and left Sydney reeling.

Ms James’ father said in a statement to NCA NewsWire the family were “tremendously grateful” for the community’s support after the loss of their “vibrant, outgoing” daughter.

According to the Red Heart Campaign – a memorial to women and children lost to violence run by journalist and advocate Sherele Moody – Ms James was the 55th woman killed in Australia in 2023.

In the week since, three more women were killed, bringing the tally to 58 victims of violence this year.

The body of family law barrister Alice Rose McShera, 34, was found at Crown Towers in Burswood, Perth, on Monday morning. She was killed by 42-year-old Cameron John Pearson, who has been charged with her murder, in an alleged domestic violence incident.

On Sunday evening, 44-year-old Analyn “Logee” Osias was found critically injured in her home in Bendigo, Victoria after being allegedly assaulted by her former partner James William Pualic. She later died in hospital.

Homicide detectives are investigating the death of another woman, in her 60s, whose body was found at a home in the NSW Hunter Valley on Monday. Police say it appears there was “some kind of physical intervention”, potentially by a 52-year-old woman known to the victim.

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