Northern Territory to launch online public sex offender register-Please follow suit


Bruce and Denise Morcombe

Photo: Bruce and Denise Morcombe attended the announcement of the NT’s public sex offender register. (ABC News: Ruby Jones)

Convicted sex offenders in the Northern Territory will soon have their name, image, physical description and whereabouts posted on a government website.

Legislation announced today has been named Daniel’s Law after Queensland teenager Daniel Morcombe, who was murdered in 2003 by a convicted sex offender on parole.

Although details have not been finalised, it was believed all of the information published about a sex offender would be publicly accessible.

The NT Criminal Lawyers Association slammed the idea, saying naming and shaming made it harder for offenders to rehabilitate without making anyone safer.

NT Attorney-General John Elferink said it would be the first website of its kind in Australia and it was expected to be launched next year.

Western Australia has an online sex register but access has several tiers of restrictions.

It is not yet clear how approximate the location information for the NT register will be. Mr Elferink said the website would include the “regional whereabouts”.

We truly hope that the introduction of Daniel’s Law will prevent another family going through the pain and grief we experienced following Daniel’s death.

Bruce and Denise Morcombe

“We’ll list them by geographical region reasonably close to where [people] live. It is not a system of exact addresses,” he said.

“They will be able to see who the sexual predators are in the community. They’ll be able to recognise the sexual predators and protect their children.

“We believe that the public’s right to know takes precedence over the privacy concerns for serious sex offenders.

“The initiative will allow individuals and families to familiarise themselves with important details and be more vigilant about named serious sex offenders living in and around the area.”

Daniel’s Law modelled on Megan’s Law in US

The NT chose to pursue its own legislation after a proposed national sex offenders register was knocked back at the recent Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, according to Mr Elferink.

“From our perspective if it’s not done at a Commonwealth level then we’re going to do it in the NT and proudly so,” he said.

“Does a government make this information available or not? The answer from the NT is ‘yes, yes we do’.

“There is no guarantee a website would have protected Daniel. We know we should pull out all stops as a society and as a community to create for parents an environment to protect their children.”

He said the NT system would be modelled on Megan’s Law in the United States – the informal name for sex offender registration and community notification laws, which have been passed at US federal and state levels.

However, unlike Megan’s Law, Daniel’s Law will not list offenders’ exact address.

The Attorney-General said the Government had not yet decided on the definition of “serious sex offender”.

“We’ll create a definition which is appropriate and then have further flexible arrangements to make sure the right people are placed on our serious sex offenders website.”

He said parents were in a better position to protect their child when they were armed with detailed information.

“While the Northern Territory Police will continue to track and monitor around 200 sex offenders in the community, this tool is designed to deliver information to the community about the most serious offenders in an easy, user-friendly way,” he said.

‘You’d hate to be the last state to have a register’

Daniel’s parents Bruce and Denise Morcombe, who have been calling for the introduction of a national child sex offender register, said they hoped the NT register would spread across the country.

“Of course sometimes one can imagine the paedophiles and the predators on the NT sex offenders register may well not want to be in the NT any longer,” Mr Morcombe said.

“They may migrate to other states and territories.

“You’d hate to be the last state to have a sex offenders register up and running. You’re going to get truckloads of people you don’t want in your state.”

The couple, who were in Darwin for the announcement, said they commended the NT’s decision.

“The NT has taken a leadership step,” Mr Morcombe said. “They were the first to do so.

“This is for ordinary Australians. It is to get the good people at arms length from the predators.

“We want protection for our kids.

“Daniel’s Law we are confident will assist in the mission to make sure kids of Australia are safe.

“We think it is breathtakingly simple but at the end of the day will make a massive difference for children right around the country.

“I am sure the feedback from that will migrate to other states and they’ll say, ‘Why not us?'”

Daniel disappeared when he was 13 while waiting for a bus at Woombye on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast in 2003.

His remains were found in bushland eight years later.

His convicted killer, Brett Peter Cowan, had a long history of sexually abusing children.

He had been arrested and sentenced in 1989 for two years in jail after molesting a boy in a public toilets.

Four years later, while living in a caravan park in Darwin, Cowan attacked a six-year-old boy. He later pleaded guilty to gross indecency, grievous bodily harm and deprivation of liberty.

He was sentenced to seven years’ jail and released on parole four years later.

‘Terrible idea will turn people into vigilantes’

Public online sex registers make it harder for offenders to rehabilitate, increase the chance they will re-offend, and do not make anyone safer, according to NT Criminal Lawyers Association president Russell Goldflam.

He said the NT Government’s proposal was “terrible”.

From our perspective if it’s not done at a Commonwealth level then we’re going to do it in the NT and proudly so. Does a government make this information available or not? The answer from the NT is ‘yes, yes we do’.

John Elferink, NT Attorney-General

“Laws like this have been tried in the US, mainly over the last couple of decades,” he said. “They don’t result in anyone being safer or the level of recidivism being decreased.

“There are some real costs. They are expensive to run but more importantly is they can get in the way of people being rehabilitated.

“This can result in people going underground instead of engaging with those who can assist them to stop reoffending

“In a place like the the NT we expect anyone who is going to be put on the register will leave the NT and go somewhere else. That doesn’t help anybody. It just makes it harder to keep track of them.”

He said the system would further stigmatise, prejudice and stereotype convicted sex offenders.

“A very significant range of laws operate to protect the community from people who may be at risk of reoffending,” he said. “There is already a register, already a provision for for identifying offenders, already laws to detain serious repeat sex offenders.

“Where these laws have been passed in the US – and they have in some places included exact places where people live – vigilantes have murdered people on the list or people they believe are on the list, even if they weren’t child sex offenders.

“The Attorney-General says this will make people be more vigilant.

“Our concern is this will make more people into vigilantes.”

Who wants to be a unpaid crime blog reporter/contributer?


Not real journo’s who still have a job, maybe cadets (but not good for resume…mmm)

Maybe old school scribes who wish they could stay in the game!

How about folks like me with no relevant qualifications but gives a toss about the crimes in their communities?

The pay-off is a verdict like today GBC cowardly wife killer.

People like me? You relate to how I write?

Hey cant spell well, 2 finger typer…So am I YES…Our stuff gets checked before we post.

Sounds like you?

GOOD keep reading

This site has had massive coverage lately (I cover non famous crimes too)

I’m thinking along the lines of a Co-ordinator in each state

That co-ordinator runs that states crimes and has authors who get the stories up.

What do you think?

Sound good, bad, troublesome, confusing?

All I want is to give the best coverage of what is going on in our communities.

The community expectations has/have?  outgrown my skills honestly…

Each state, minimum deserves better coverage. The good people email me why haven’t you covered this rape, or that kidnapping, or the death of a cousin in my indigenous community.

You could help us!

GBC Trial Day 19.5 (the weekend)


Something to get the chat going for the weekend

 

Baden-Clay murder trial: Large crowds in court evidence of a healthy legal system, top barrister says

11/07/14

Gerard Baden-Clay

The murder trial of Gerard Baden-Clay has seen a ticketing system introduced to prevent overcrowding

The high level of public interest in the Gerard Baden-Clay trial is nothing out of the ordinary, and in fact makes for a healthy legal system, a top barrister says.

The former real estate agent’s murder trial attracted crowds to the Brisbane Supreme Court, with extra courtrooms opened for people who queued day after day to gain entry, and a ticketing system introduced to prevent overcrowding.

The Department of Justice and Attorney-General says these special arrangements for large-scale trials are made to ensure openness and transparency in the justice system.

This transparency is key to keeping Australia’s legal apparatus – everyone from police to barristers and judges – held to account, says Ken Fleming, QC.

Mr Fleming was the defence barrister for former Bundaberg surgeon Jayant Patel and has worked as a United Nations prosecutor on international war crimes trials.

“Everyone should be held accountable for what they’re doing, and the open scrutiny of it is a very important thing,” he said.

“You just can’t have things going on behind closed doors, because that engenders fear of the unknown.”

Mr Fleming says the “whole delivery of justice” depends on high levels of public interest, because people can see and understand the process.

Seeing mystery unravel part of appeal, barrister says

The courts are not, however, in danger of turning into another form of entertainment – rather, they always have been.

“You only have to think about the French Revolution and the guillotining in the forecourt of the Notre Dame,” Mr Fleming said.

Although some people may attend just to see a mystery unravel, he believes many also have a genuine interest in watching the ins and outs of the legal process.

There might be some prurient interest as well, but I think that’s not the major reason people are there.

Ken Fleming, QC

“You only have to look at some of the British television programs to see how we love a good murder mystery,” he said.

“There might be some prurient interest as well, but I think that’s not the major reason people are there.

“They just have a genuine interest in what’s going on.”

Glen Cranny, a defence lawyer and partner at Gilshenan and Luton Lawyers, also believes a high level of public interest is healthy for the criminal justice system generally.

“People might come for any number of reasons, and some might come for mawkish reasons,” he said.

“Nevertheless, I think the benefits of having an open and transparent system … far outweigh any perverse interest some people may get out of such proceedings.”

Public pressure witnesses face may discourage some: lawyer

Publicity and public interest in a case can also encourage other complainants or witnesses to come forward and give evidence, where they may have otherwise been unaware or not confident enough.

Rolf Harris‘s case in England, for example, involved people who were coming forward as complainants once they, I think, had the courage that there were protections and systems in place for their story to be told,” Mr Cranny said.

But this benefit has a flip-side: that very publicity could make people apprehensive about revealing their story.

“I think there is a tipping point where some people might think they could do without their face or name being splashed on TV as a witness, or as a complainant,” Mr Cranny said.

“They would be happy to be involved in the process in a low-key way, but don’t want to be engaged … in anything that might in some way feel like a circus to them.”

Reputational issues should also be factored in, especially when a person’s conduct, while lawful, may not hold them in a good light.

“We’ve seen in a recent high-profile case … a lot of focus on extra-marital affairs and so on,” Mr Cranny said.

“There are people who are involved in those relationships, who haven’t broken the law, but have become very prominent just through their personal lives.”

Mr Fleming says that while public interest could make some people “a bit reluctant”, he had not seen any evidence of public attendance impacting on witnesses.

“It is on display and in a sense it’s theatre,” he said.

“But once people are resigned to the fact that they will be giving evidence, I don’t think too much stands in their way.”

Opening additional courtrooms and keeping the public away from “where the action is happening” also means witnesses are only faced with a very small and confined audience in the main court, Mr Fleming said.

All previous threads and history including trial can be found clicking on link below http://aussiecriminals.com.au/category/gerard-baden-clay/

List of Trial Witnesses as they appear here

ANY EVIDENCE LIKE PHOTOS, VIDEO OR DOCUMENTS THE COURT RELEASES TO THE PUBLIC WILL BE PUBLISHED in the GBC Documents Page

Brisbane Supreme Court Justice John Byrne has asked a jury to retire to consider a verdict in the trial of Gerard Baden-Clay.

Daniel Morcombe murder trial jury -guilty all charges


GUILTY ALL CHARGES-WHAT A RELIEF AND WHAT A BASTARD-CAN NOW BE REVEALED HE IS WAS A SERIAL SEX OFFENDER

Brett Peter Cowan found GUILTY murdering schoolboy Daniel Morcombe in 2003

Brett Peter Cowan found GUILTY murdering schoolboy Daniel Morcombe in 2003

At a 2011 coronial inquest into Daniel’s disappearance, Cowan admitted he had been abusing children since he was a child of nine or 10 years old himself.

By the time he was 18, he had preyed on up to 30 children.

Many of them were targeted at a local swimming pool in fleeting encounters in order to avoid detection.

His first conviction for child sexual offences was for an attack on a seven-year-old boy in Queensland in 1987.

While performing community service at a playground, he took the boy into the public toilets and molested him.

After two years on the run, he was arrested and sentenced in 1989 to two years in jail for indecent dealing.

Four years later, while living at a caravan park in Darwin, Cowan attacked again.

A six-year-old boy was looking for his sister, but when he approached Cowan, Cowan took him into bushland and molested him so violently the victim suffered a punctured lung from choking.

Cowan left the boy to die in an old car, before the child staggered into a service station naked, dazed and bleeding.

Cowan initially denied any involvement, at one stage telling detectives: “I hope you catch the bastard.”

He confessed only after police told him they had found DNA evidence.

In late September 1993, Cowan pleaded guilty to gross indecency, grievous bodily harm and deprivation of liberty, and was sentenced to seven years in jail.

When he was released on parole in 1998, Cowan moved to the Sunshine Coast to live with relatives and became involved in the Christian Outreach Church, through which he met his former wife.

The pair married in 1999, and by December 2003 they were living in Beerwah with their baby son, but Cowan had cut ties with the church and the marriage was strained.

On December 7, 2003, Cowan spotted his next victim on the side of the Nambour Connection Road waiting for a bus.

He was a fresh faced boy called Daniel and he was wearing a red shirt.

Cowan once looked into the eyes of Daniel’s parents, Bruce and Denise, and said: “I had nothing to do with Daniel’s disappearance, nothing at all.”

He told the brazen lie while giving evidence at a coronial inquest into the teenager’s disappearance in March 2011.

The guilty verdicts bring to an end the biggest police investigation in Queensland’s history and Australia’s biggest missing person’s case.

The jury in the murder trial of the man accused of killing Queensland teenager Daniel Morcombe has retired to consider its verdicts.

Daniel Morcombe Discussion Page here

Daniel Morcombe in the T shirt he was wearing when went missing.

Daniel Morcombe in the T shirt he was wearing when went missing.

Daniel was abducted and murdered on the Sunshine Coast in 2003 and his remains were found in nearby bushland in 2011. previous posts and daily coverage of trial here

Brett Peter Cowan, also known as Shaddo N-Unyah Hunter, has pleaded not guilty to murder, indecent treatment of a child, and interfering with a corpse.

Brett Peter Cowan is accused of murdering schoolboy Daniel Morcombe in 2003.

Brett Peter Cowan is accused of murdering schoolboy Daniel Morcombe in 2003.

Update 13/03/14

JURORS deciding the fate of Queensland schoolboy Daniel Morcombe’s accused killer are deliberating for a second day.

The six men and six women on the Supreme Court jury retired at lunchtime on Wednesday to consider their verdict in the trial of Brett Peter Cowan.

They left the Brisbane courtroom after Justice Roslyn Atkinson told them they may consider a manslaughter verdict.

They deliberated for three and a quarter hours on Wednesday before the court was adjourned for the day.

Justice Roslyn Atkinson began proceedings this morning delving into the undercover police operation.

She told jurors they cannot use against Cowan his right to remain silent when he was arrested.

Justice Atkinson told the jury it had been a long trial with a lot of evidence.

She said jurors could check any facts of the case while considering their verdicts.

Justice Atkinson has provided jurors with a question trail to help them reach verdicts.

Earlier this week, prosecution and defence lawyers gave their final submissions.

In the past four weeks, more than 100 witnesses have given evidence at the trial.

The court heard police found the schoolboy’s remains at an old macadamia farm at Beerwah in 2011.

Seventeen bone fragments were found after one of the largest searches undertaken by police and State Emergency Service volunteers.

Defence lawyer Angus Edwards said there was no proof Cowan killed Daniel and the alleged confessions recorded by undercover police were made up.

Mr Edwards said it was more likely convicted child rapist Douglas Jackway killed the schoolboy.

“For a fellow like him to be driving down that stretch of road past Daniel Morcombe would have been like a snake going past a wounded mouse,” Mr Edwards said.

“He stalked, abducted and killed Daniel Morcombe, and if you accept that, all the other evidence in this trial will fall into place.”

He said Jackway’s sexual assault of a boy in 1995 had striking similarities to Daniel’s case.

He owned a blue car, and a blue car was seen by witnesses circling and stalking the teenager as he waited for a bus, Mr Edwards said.

The car “wasn’t always in the same position. It was stalking Daniel Morcombe”, he said.

The inevitable conclusion, Mr Edwards said, was that Jackway was involved in Daniel’s abduction.

He said although there was no direct evidence of the convicted paedophile’s involvement, the jury should draw inferences.

But prosecutors said that scenario was a red herring and Cowan’s confessions were truthful because of their detailed nature and gravity.

Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne said Cowan alone led police to Daniel’s remains and his confessions were not forced.

Mr Byrne said despite Jackway’s horrendous crimes, he was a “cheap target” and there was no evidence he was on the Sunshine Coast that day.

Justice Atkinson told the jury yesterday to put out of their minds anything they have seen, heard or read about the trial outside of the courtroom.

“The evidence is what you’ve heard in this court and not recollections of what you might have read in the newspaper or seen on television or heard on the radio at some time during the past or even during the trial,” she said.

“You should dismiss all feelings of sympathy or prejudice against the defendant or anyone else.

“Nor should you allow public opinion to sway you, you must approach your duty dispassionately.”

A Look back at the key developments in the murder case of Queensland schoolboy Daniel Morcombe.

December 7, 2003:

Daniel Morcombe, 13, vanishes while waiting for a bus under the Kiel Mountain Road overpass on Nambour Connection Road at Woombye on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. He was on his way to go Christmas shopping when he disappeared.

December 7, 2004:

About 1,000 people attend a memorial service to mark the first anniversary of Daniel Morcombe’s disappearance. A special plaque is also unveiled at the site.

October 4, 2004:

A $250,000 reward is posted by the Queensland Government for information leading to an arrest or conviction.

February, 2005:

Parents Bruce and Denise Morcombe launch the Daniel Morcombe Foundation to continue their message on child safety.

December 1, 2008:

A record $1 million private reward is offered for new information about the disappearance.

April, 2010:

The State Coroner receives an extensive investigation report, containing thousands of pages, from police regarding the suspected death.

October 13, 2010:

A coronial inquest led by State Coroner Michael Barnes begins. The inquest is held in Maroochydore and Brisbane. It adjourns on April 6, 2011.

August 13, 2011:

Brett Peter Cowan, 41, is arrested and charged. Police and State Emergency Service volunteers search bushland in the Sunshine Coast hinterland as part of the investigation. Over the next two months, a pair of shoes and human bones are discovered. DNA results confirm they belong to Daniel Morcombe.

November 26, 2012:

Cowan’s committal hearing begins in the Brisbane Magistrates Court.

December 7, 2012:

A funeral is held for Daniel Morcombe at St Catherine of Siena Church at Sippy Downs on the Sunshine Coast, nine years to the day since he disappeared. He was laid to rest at Woombye Cemetery.

February 7, 2013:

Cowan ordered to stand trial in the Supreme Court of Queensland. He is charged with murder, indecent treatment of a child and interfering with a corpse.

February 10, 2014:

Cowan’s trial begins. It is expected to take six weeks. A pool of about 100 potential witnesses may be called to give evidence.

Brett Cowan, portrait of a monster

March 13, 2014 – 2:31PM

The little boy was looking for his sister. He was six and dressed only in a pair of underpants as he wandered alone through the BP Palms Caravan Park on the Stuart Highway on the outskirts of Darwin.

The little boy lived in the caravan park with his family. Brett Peter Cowan lived in a neighbouring van.

Around dusk on a Thursday night in September 1993, Brett Cowan, then aged 24, approached the boy and asked him if he wanted to go for a walk to see an old car wreck abandoned in the bush not so far away.

The pair left the trailer park, climbed through a hole in a wire fence and walked along a scrubby bush track. When the little boy asked Cowan how far it was to the wreck, the young man swung him up on to his shoulders for the final 200 metres.

Cowan then lay the boy on the upturned rust bucket, pulled the boy’s underpants down and dropped his own shorts.

About an hour later, the boy, naked and filthy now, stumbled through the dark back into the BP Palms service area. Northern Territory Supreme Court documents reveal he was dazed and distressed.

In intensive care at Royal Darwin Hospital the extent of his injuries became apparent. A collapsed and punctured left lung, haemorrhaged eyes, a bloodied nose, abrasions across his face, a deep cut in his scrotum area.

A doctor said the boy’s “combination of injuries was consistent with his having sustained a complex series of injuries involving an asphyxial element, blunt force injury, sharp force injury and anal penetration”. The boy’s wounds were heavily contaminated with carbon-containing material, “consistent with contact with a heavily ashed bushfire area”.

After initially denying any involvement, Brett Peter Cowan made a full confession. He told police that he needed help.

But just how much help did he get? It’s a question that many will be asking about the 44-year-old, who on Thursday was found guilty in Brisbane’s Supreme Court of murdering 13-year-old Daniel Morcombe on the Sunshine Coast on December 7, 2003.

In Queensland’s highest-profile criminal case ever, Cowan, the father of three young boys, now awaits Justice Roslyn Atkinson’s sentencing decision.

It might be little consolation to Daniel’s heartbroken and weary parents, Bruce and Denise Morcombe, that Cowan denies molesting their son. “I never got to molest him or anything like that; he panicked and I panicked and grabbed him around the throat and just before I knew it, he was dead,” Cowan confessed to an undercover police officer in Perth in August 2011.

“I was starting to pull his pants down … and he said, ‘oh no’, and he started to struggle..” Cowan told the officer. In a later conversation, he said, “… if I didn’t panic I could’ve been there for an hour doing stuff.”

Whatever jail term Justice Atkinson settles on, it will be Cowan’s third for crimes against boys. He was sentenced to two years’ jail in 1989 after indecently dealing with a seven-year-old boy. Cowan was 18 when he took the boy into a public toilet in Brisbane and molested him.

In June 1994, he was sentenced to seven years’ jail for his crimes against the little boy in Darwin. But by 1998, only four years later, Cowan was out of jail and living in the Sunshine Coast community of Bli Bli with his aunt and uncle who were pastors at the Suncoast Christian Church (formerly the Christian Outreach Centre).

It was to be a new start for the convicted paedophile and small-time drug dealer, a 190cm-tall man with a goatee, two silver earrings, a tattoo of a clown on his shoulder and two upper-arm tattoos –  one of a skull holding a smoking gun with skeletal fingers, the other of a skull in a top hat.

At one point Cowan was going to church three times a weekend. He met a girl through church and, in September 1999, after a church wedding ceremony, they celebrated at a reception at the Big Pineapple, a remnant of gaudy 1970s tourism on the Nambour Connection Road.

The couple started their life together in Beerwah, an old sugarcane town spliced by Steve Irwin Way and with a view of the jagged Glasshouse Mountains. Cowan smoked pot and did a bit of this, a bit of that — odd jobs, tow-truck driving, industrial spray-painting — until someone hooked him up with local businessman Trevor Davis. “I thought quite a lot of Brett,” says Mr Davis, who owns a sandblasting business.

By all accounts, Cowan had a disciplined upbringing. “He was an army brat,” says Mr Davis of his former employee, who was born in Bunbury, Western Australia, in September 1969. He and his three brothers spent much of their childhood in Brisbane’s Everton Park. Cowan’s father, Peter, retired from the Army having achieved the rank of major.

Mr Davis says Brett Cowan was intelligent and hard-working, “an open and friendly chap” who got on with customers and “never forgot anything I taught him”.

Mr Davis was so impressed by his employee that he bought a second sandblasting business with the intention that Cowan could run it independently. “I figured that I could front him into it,” says Mr Davis.

Tracey Lee Moncrieff gave birth to the couple’s first child, a little boy, in mid 2003, about six months before Bruce and Denise Morcombe’s little boy vanished from a bus stop under an overpass at Woombye on the Nambour Connection Road.

Police quickly identified Cowan as a person of interest in their investigation. Cowan was interviewed and, just before Christmas, his white Pajero was carted off to Nambour police station where it was scoured it for evidence. Nothing was found.

Cowan denied having anything to do with the case. He would later officially change his name in a vain attempt to avoid further scrutiny. His new name was “Shaddo N-unyah Hunter” — “Shaddo” because it was his dog’s name and his dog followed him around like a shadow. When undercover police asked what “N-unyah” was all about, he replied “Nunyah business”.

In 2004, Moncrieff gave birth to his second son but the marriage was soon over. At some point Cowan’s spiritual observance had come to an end too.  “Something was preached over the pulpit that I didn’t agree with and (I) went and spoke with the pastor about it and he wouldn’t change his mind so…” he would later tell police.

“He just didn’t appear at a job site one day and that was the last I saw of him,” says Trevor Davis. “He just did a bunk.”

The Darwin judge who sentenced Cowan after his sex attack on the six-year-old boy described Cowan as a “pathological liar and a person who is prepared to steal even from his own parents”. He had lived a “parasitic existence, relying on social security and his parents”, the judge said, listing offences including stealing, break and enter and unlawful use of motor vehicles.

After he left Moncrieff, Cowan seems to have resumed that behaviour, drifting through a drug-hazed underclass, from what he described as “Nam-boring”, to Moranbah in north Queensland and then, by the time of the Nerang interview in 2005, to Uki in the Tweed Valley.

In 2008 he was living with 18-year-old Leticha Anne Harvey in Durack, Ipswich. By December 2009 she’d given birth to their son and they were living in a caravan park on Bribie Island in Moreton Bay off Brisbane. Cowan would later tell undercover police that he’d lost access to his two oldest children and that his brother and his wife had custody of his youngest son.

By March 2011 when Cowan was called to give evidence at the inquest into Daniel Morcombe’s disappearance, he was living in yet another caravan park — this time in Perth with another woman, also called “Tracey”, a woman he described as “a friend with benefits”, and his pet “birdie”, a “twenty-eight” or Australian ring-neck parrot.

At the inquest in the Brisbane Coroners Court, Cowan was Dubbed “P7”, “Person of Interest 7”. He had been bullied at school, Cowan told the court, and came to struggle with his bisexuality.

He admitted to smoking “cones” of marijuana in his hotel room each morning he was required to give evidence.

He admitted something else as he tried to convince the inquest he wasn’t involved in Daniel’s disappearance. “I wasn’t interested in teenage boys. I was interested in six, seven and eight-year-old boys.”

On April 1, excused from the inquest, Cowan caught a flight back to Perth. On the plane, he sat next to a bloke who introduced himself as Joe Emery. They got chatting and swapped numbers. “Joe Emery” was the false name of an undercover police officer. One of the most extraordinary undercover police investigations in Australia’s history had begun.