New Private School Principal Under Fire for Controversial Remarks

The headmaster of a prestigious private school in Sydney is facing severe criticism after making remarks that appeared to downplay the heinous actions of a suspected murderer. The incident, which took place at St Andrew’s College in the CBD, involved the fatal assault of Lilie James, a 21-year-old student, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend and colleague, Paul Thijssen.

The controversy began when the headmaster of another private school, Shore, commented on the murder in the school’s newsletter. Shore headmaster John Collier, who previously knew Thijssen when he was the headmaster at St Andrews, made a statement that seemed to sympathize with the alleged perpetrator. He described Thijssen’s actions as a “monstrous act” but emphasized that it contradicted the behavior he exhibited throughout the rest of his life. Collier’s comments were met with outrage and accusations of excusing toxic masculinity.

The school later issued a statement in response to the backlash, clarifying that the opinions expressed in the newsletter were personal and did not represent the school’s stance. They expressed their deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victim and maintained that the intention was never to cause further distress.

The incident has renewed discussions about toxic masculinity and the need for society to address the issue of violence against women. Critics argue that by focusing on redeeming the image of the alleged perpetrator, the headmaster inadvertently undermines the gravity of the crime and perpetuates harmful narratives.

Amidst the controversy, the community has come together to pay tribute to Lilie James. Floral tributes, cards, and gifts have been left at St Andrew’s Cathedral School, where James was a student. Her family visited the memorial to see the outpouring of support from the community, displaying deep concern and compassion during this difficult time.


Q: Who was involved in the incident at St Andrew’s College?

A: Lilie James, a 21-year-old student, was fatally assaulted, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend and colleague, Paul Thijssen.

Q: What were the controversial remarks made by the headmaster of Shore?

A: The headmaster, John Collier, described Thijssen’s actions as a “monstrous act” but emphasized that it contradicted his behavior throughout the rest of his life, in an attempt to humanize the alleged perpetrator.

Q: How has the community responded?

A: The community has gathered to pay tribute to Lilie James with floral tributes, cards, and gifts at St Andrew’s Cathedral School.

Q: What are the criticisms surrounding the headmaster’s remarks?

A: Critics argue that the headmaster’s remarks downplay the severity of the crime and perpetuate harmful narratives about toxic masculinity.

Q: Why is this incident renewing discussions about violence against women?

A: This incident highlights the urgent need to address violence against women and the societal norms that contribute to it.