A young water polo coach who was brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend at the school they both worked at was returning sports equipment to him on the night she was killed.

Sports coach Paul Thijssen, 24, would have known he’d be seeing Lilie James, 21, at St Andrew’s Cathedral School on Wednesday night just days after their split.

She was bludgeoned to death

A close friend of Thijssen told The Daily Telegraph it was his role to collect sports equipment when teams returned it after training at different locations across the city.

Do you know more? Email brielle.burns@news.com.au

Ms James was found with “serious head injuries” by police just after midnight on Wednesday, after reportedly being beaten to death with a hammer.

Cops had received a triple-zero call from Dutch-born Thijssen, informing them a body was at the school.

Mr Thijssen’s body was later found at the base of cliffs near Diamond Bay Reserve in the city’s east.

Ms Jame’s family believe her killer “wouldn’t take no for an answer” when she broke up with him just days before her death.

Daniel Makovec, a friend of the family who launched a GoFundMe in Lilie’s honour, exclusively told The Daily Telegraph, “She broke it off by the sounds of things, so he stole her from us, he took away everything, ripped us to piece.”

Mr Makovec, who said the family was initially reluctant to launch a fundraiser, spoke of the “emotional stress” now placed on everyone who knew Lilie.

“It’s not for today, nor for tomorrow, it’s for the future,” he said.

“The last 48 hours for us have been so full of laughter ­remembering her and her ­bubbly, beautiful personality — and full of tears.

“She was a beautiful girl who just literally filled the room up with smiles. And now it’s nothing but absolutely emotional stress.”

The GoFundMe page has already raised over $14,000.

Flowers have also been laid outside the school as the community grieves Ms James, who has been remembered as a “vibrant” and “outgoing” person.

Ms James’ father, Jamie, said the family was “devastated and heartbroken by the loss of our beautiful Lilie James” in a statement.

“She was vibrant, outgoing and very much loved by her friends and family,” he said, stopping multiple times to gather himself.

“We are tremendously grateful for the support of the community at this difficult time.”

‘Creepy’ behaviour

Students have recalled to the Saturday Telegraph how the former sports assistant used to “boast” about his relationship with Ms James, among other behaviours that made them uncomfortable.

Speaking exclusively to the paper, students described Mr Thijssen as a “creep who was flirtatious with the girls” at the school.

“He had a wandering eye and flirtatious personality which unsettled young girls in the sports team,” one student exclusively told the Saturday Telegraph.

“I am absolutely shocked by the circumstances but there’s no doubt that he was a creep.”

Mr Thijssen was called “arrogant” by former peers – he attended the school and graduated in 2017 – who noted he was “hated” by boys and liked by girls.

CCTV footage

CCTV footage from 9News shows Mr Thijssen visiting Diamond Bay Reserve at 8.47pm on Wednesday night, about an hour where the alleged murder occurred at St Andrews Cathedral School.

The Dutch-national can be seen walking down the path, before he dumped the alleged murder weapon in the bin and drives off in his silver Lexus.

9News reports he sat in his car for two hours before calling police and alerting them of the location of Ms James’ body.

Officers arrived at the school after Ms James’ family alerted police as she hadn’t returned home.

At about 7.40am on Friday, police commenced a lengthy four-and-a-half-hour operation to retrieve the body of Mr Thijssen off the coast near Diamond Bay Reserve in Vaucluse.

NSW Police said inquiries were continuing and a report will be prepared for the Coroner.

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