Updated with covert confession from court today
Video of a police interview with the accused in 2005 has been released by the court. Watch it below
Part 1 and 2 (split for you tube)
4.45pm: The trial has ended for the day and will resume on Monday at 10am
4.40pm: In the audio conversation with undercover West Australian officer Paul “Fitzy’’ Fitzsimmons, Cowan laughed with him about the world being his oyster.
Mr Fitzsimmons told him he could expect a cut of the planned big job.
They played pinball together and then returned to the hotel room where Arnold was waiting.
Arnold told Cowan he was glad he had told Mr Fitzsimmons about it.
Arnold told him he was to take Cowan to the Mullaloo Hotel for the night and book three flights to Queensland the next morning for the two of them and another undercover operative known as Ian.
“When you get to Queensland, give Mal a call, I’ve got his number here,’’ Arnold told them.
He told him that once he got to Queensland they would help him “make all this sh*t go away’’.
Cowan said he collected watches but he did not have Daniel’s watch, “I swear that, 100 per cent’’.
Arnold told Cowan he had made some calls and put back what the gang was “gunna do’’.
“If they had anything out of my car I wouldn’t be sitting here today cause it’s been eight years since they had my car…’’ Cowan said.
He told Arnold he had a floral bed sheet in the back of his car that the mulcher was placed on.
“I ripped it up afterwards and used it for rags and used it for tying stakes and that as well,’’ Cowan said.
Arnold asked Cowan whether there was potential to “pay off’’ the drug dealer.
“Because she uses heroin, cocaine and speed,’’ Cowan said.
Arnold instructed Cowan to backtrack and take Mr Fitzsimmons and Ian every place he went in December, 2003, “every step of the way’’.
Cowan told him he thought the shovel might still be Murwillumbah.
Arnold told him that might cause problems.
4pm: In the audio conversation with undercover West Australian officer Paul “Fitzy’’ Fitzsimmons, Brett Peter Cowan told him it was a “spur of the moment thing’’.
“Ever since him I haven’t touched another kid because … it’s only cause he struggled and I panicked,’’ he said.
“If the bus hadn’t of broken down he wouldn’t have been there … if I had of been in another lane, I mightn’t have seen him.’’
Cowan told him about his experience being “hammered’’ by solicitors at the inquest into Daniel Morcombe’s disappearance.
He told Mr Fitzsimmons he spent just 10 to 15 minutes with the boy.
“I could’ve been a lot longer like if he, if I didn’t panic, I could’ve been there for an hourdoing stuff,’’ Cowan said.
“It was 10 to 15 minutes and I was back in the car and driving back home.’’
He said he “choked’’ the boy.
“There was no screaming or nothing,’’ Cowan said.
He detailed how his car had been coated in fingerprint by police looking for evidence.
He said he was “pissed off’’ all the witnesses said there was two people seen near to the area where Daniel went missing.
“Always believed when they first came, you know when the coppers first came around it was just like oh f*** … they got me,’’ Cowan said.
He said he had trepidation about a law in Queensland that meant you didn’t need a body to charge a person for a crime.
He told Mr Fitzsimmons the boy had willingly got into his car.
“He got in willingly into the car because he thought he’d missed the bus cause the bus drove straight past him,’’ Cowan said.
“It’s hard it’s the most publicised case.”
Cowan said he lost his job in Perth because the Coroner’s office had to be told who he was working for.
“He tried to get away,’’ Cowan said.
“I knew if he got away I was f***ed. Panicked. No, no, no, this was all at the end, I took him out of the car and into a house…’’
Cowan said Beerwah was a spread-out farming community with a lot of bush tracks and “dead-end orchards’’.
He said he “had me man fun’’ at the workers quarters there.
“He came inside and I went to pull his pants down he panicked and I grabbed him,’’ Cowan said.
“It is my deepest, darkest secret.’’
3.35pm: The 114th witness, undercover Western Australian officer Paul “Fitzy’’ Fitzsimmons returned to give evidence from the witness box.
The jury was played a recording of Cowan and Mr Fitzsimmons going for lunch at the Como Hotel following the accused’s confession to undercover crime boss Arnold.
Cowan tells him the so-called “big job’’ might have to be put off for a couple of weeks.
“Just sorting a couple of things out,’’ he said.
Cowan tells him he’ll probably be going to Brisbane the next day to “sort out some stuff … to do with the Daniel Morcombe case’’.
“I’m not proud of it,’’ he said.
“Arnold is the only other person other than you who now knows that I was involved in Daniel Morcombe.’’
Cowan said he was “pissed off’’ his dealer had lied about his alibi, adding “45 minutes of my alibi is blown out of the water because she said I wasn’t there’’.
“I wish I was f***ing 10 minutes later going to get that fucking wood chipper, I wouldn’t have seen him,’’ Cowan said.
“I offered him a lift, he got in my car and, um, I took him somewhere, I was going to molest him.
“He struggled and before I knew it my arm was around his neck.’’
He told Mr Fitzsimmons: “Today’s the first time I’ve ever told anybody’’.
“They’ve got nothing,’’ he said.
Cowan said there was nothing left except for a little bit of bone that he “crushed up with a shovel’’.
“There’s no body to turn up,’’ he said.
3pm: In the secret video, covert operative 483, known to Brett Peter Cowan as Arnold, the crime gang’s Big Boss, told Cowan to have faith and he would make some calls to “sort all this s*** out’’.
“I’ve cut ties with my family before and I’ve got no problem with cutting ties to everybody… even to the state of a death certificate, dead,’’ Cowan said.
Cowan said he didn’t remember seeing a watch that might have belonged to the boy.
“We’ll sort it, alright,’’ Arnold told him.
He said it was up to Cowan what he told the other crime gang members about their conversation.
They went out onto a balcony to have a cigarette.
Cowan, with a cigarette in his right hand, wearing a brown leather jacket and his hair pulled back in a ponytail, said he was “confident’’ the police “can’t pin me for it’’.
Cowan chats with Arnold on the balcony, telling him about how he came up with his unusual new name and laughing as they flick the ash of their cigarettes into an ashtray.
He has his left hand shoved in the pocket of his pants and shifts from side to side during the chat.
He tells Arnold his car, the Pajero, ended up on Russell Island.
The pair of them talk cars for a period.
Arnold tells Cowan again he can sort out his problem for him and they go back inside.
Cowan told Arnold his car was seized by police but they found nothing.
“I didn’t even wipe my car, vacuum it out nothing and they took my car, like, on Christmas day,’’ he said..
He told Arnold what happened inside the demountable.
“When he started to struggle I started to pull his pants down and he said ‘Oh no’… I was standing, squatting and then I grabbed him,’’ Cowan said.
He said it would have been around a week, no more than 10 days, when he went back to the sandmining property with a shovel.
The jury was shown a hand-drawn map Cowan gave to Arnold during the hotel meeting, where “Roys Rd’’ was written near two sheds and a line veered off to indicate a bridge over a creek.
In cross-examination by barrister Angus Edwards, for Cowan, Arnold agreed he met with Queensland police and received a general briefing from them the night before the scenario was to play out on August 9, 2011.
He said he used another assumed identity to draft an email that was sent to him about Cowan.
“The purpose of my role was to … if he implicated himself, try and obtain a confession,’’ Arnold said.
“Should he have implicated himself, definitely yes.’’
He agreed Cowan initially guaranteed he had nothing to do with Daniel Morcombe’s disappearance but his alibi was “shot to pieces’’.
Arnold agreed he told Cowan he could sort it out for him or otherwise he’d have to “drop him like a hot potato’’.
“I said `if necessary we could buy him an alibi’, yes,’’ Arnold said.
Arnold agreed he directed the conversation to areas that could potentially be corroborated by forensic investigations, such as whether there was a weapon used, locations, the whereabouts of the watch and clothing.
“The whole scenario was about him gaining our trust, loyalty and getting involved in our organisation, yes,’’ Arnold said.
He agreed the gang “dangled the carrot’’ of “big jobs and big money’’.
Mr Edwards: “I put to you it was designed to get a confession from him?’’
“It was designed to obtain the truth from him,’’ Arnold said.
In re-examination by Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne QC, Arnold conceded there had been a plan if Cowan did not confess.
“If no confession was made, he would have left the room and ceased to be a part of that crime group,’’ he said.
1pm: In the secret video in the Hyatt Hotel, Brett Peter Cowan told covert operative 483, known to Cowan as Arnold, the crime gang’s Big Boss, that he carried the boy and threw his body down an embankment.
“I went down there and I dragged him through I don’t know how far it was,’’ he said.
He said he covered the body with trees and branches.
“His clothes I took back with me and threw ‘em in a creek,’’ Cowan said.
He said they floated away and “none of that has ever been found’’.
Arnold told him he heard something about a watch that belonged to the boy.
Cowan said it all went into the creek.
Cowan said he stopped at his dealer’s place to pick up some “gear”.
“Went home, went inside, said g’day to my wife, told her I was back and went out and started chipping the timber,’’ he said.
Cowan said he went back to the place where he left the body “about a week later’’ with a shovel.
“Went down to where I put him and only found a fragment of bone, the rest of it was gone … in a week,’’ he said.
“You could tell like there was some … fat on the ground.
“There was a lot of yabbies and animals and that sort of thing.’’
He said he found what he thought was a piece of a skull and he “broke it up’’ with the shovel and buried it.
Cowan used his hand to show Arnold with both hands roughly how big the piece of bone was.
12.50pm: Covert operative 483, known to Brett Peter Cowan as Arnold, the crime gang’s Big Boss, told Cowan to come clean so he can “sort it out’’.
“Like I said, honesty, trust, respect … I pay people good money to keep us clean,’’ Arnold said.
“I’m told you’re a good worker and you’ve built up a good relationship with some of the boys.”
Cowan: “Yeah, ok, you know, yeah, I did it.’’
He told Arnold the police took his car and searched it but “got nothing’’.
“I seen (sic) him standing there, I did a loop around,’’ Cowan said.
He said he went to his bosses’ father’s place to get a wood mulcher and on the way home he saw a broken-down Sunbus.
“And then I seen (sic) Daniel,’’ he said.
“I went up and around and parked in the church car park … it wasn’t sitting on the highway at all.’’
He said he didn’t talk to Daniel until after the bus passed.
Cowan said he asked Daniel if he wanted a lift to the shopping centre.
“Instead of taking him to the shopping centre I took him to a secluded spot I knew of, to Beerwah, just near Coochin Creek,’’ Cowan said.
Arnold reassures Cowan he’s not judging him “at all’’.
Cowan tells him he took the boy to an abandoned house without furniture.
“I never got to molest him or anything like that, he panicked and I panicked and grabbed him around the throat and … he was dead,’’ he said.
He said he took the boy outside and put him in the back of his Pajero with the mulcher.
“The house is gone,’’ Cowan said.
He said he drove about 150m away to an old sandmining site.
Cowan drew Arnold a map of where he went.
12.45pm: The 115th witness is covert operative 483, known to Brett Peter Cowan as Arnold – the crime gang’s Big Boss.
He told the jury he met with Cowan in the Hyatt Hotel in Perth, staying at the Swan River room on Tuesday, August 9, 2011.
He said there were audio visual devices placed in the room.
“On one occasion there was a number of other persons in the room, other undercover police officers, a female and my alleged Western Australian underling Geoff and others who were meant to be trained body guards and associates,’’ Arnold said.
He said he spoke with Cowan.
“I asked them to leave so I could have some personal time with the defendant, yes, all other persons in the room, so there was only myself and the defendant there at that stage,’’ he said.
The jury was played a video recording of the exchange between them at 12.35pm.
At its opening, Arnold appeared give a wad of cash to a woman in a blue dress sitting on the sofa who was probably posing as a prostitute.
Cowan sits crouched on the other end of the couch, arms clasped together.
Arnold tells him he’s heard through Fitzy that Cowan is “doing some good stuff’’.
“Listen, one of the reasons I bought you here was, as I said to you before we’ve got to walk before we run and crawl before we walk … and there’s people around the country I pay good money … to get information,’’ Arnold said.
“I got some information through early this morning … and I need to sort this out. Is there something you need to tell me? I’ll let you know that I don’t care what you’ve done, I’ve got no qualms at all, I’ve got a lot of bad people on my books … all I’m looking for is loyalty, respect and honesty.’’
Cowan tells him he lived in the area where Daniel Morcombe went missing in 2003.
“I’ve been interviewed and hounded for ages about that,’’ he said.
“I had nothing to do with Daniel Morcombe’s disappearance.’’
But Cowan said one of his alibis was “shot to pieces’’ because his drug dealer could not remember if he visited her on the afternoon the killing allegedly took place.
“I was called to the Coroner’s inquest in March-April this year and I thought that was the end of it so I was surprised when Craig said to me there was another warrant,’’ Cowan said.
Arnold told him he’d been told Cowan was good for it.
“I’m told that you are the one that’s done it,’’ he said.
12.15pm: An undercover police officer from Western Australia who was known to Brett Peter Cowan as Paul “Fitzy” Fitzsimmons told the jury he picked Cowan up from Belmont in Perth to do more work, “cash pick-ups and the like”, on Monday, August 8, 2011.
The jury was played a recording between the pair on that day.
Cowan told him he’d been “up with the sparrows’’ that morning after a quiet weekend.
He said he saw Craig, the corrupt police officer, on the news on Friday in relation to a “gay fing triangle fing murder’’.
Mr Fitzsimmons tells Cowan Craig is “pretty high up’’.
He told him he sent photos to his parents of his dog and his pet bird.
Mr Fitzsimmons tells Cowan about “the big job’’ and says they might need to go to Kalgoorlie together the next night to help set it up.
Cowan said he was willing to cut all ties to his family, from Tracey even and so “fing Brett and Shaddo can fing die’’.
“I’m loving this, I’m happy and I haven’t been happy like this before,’’ Cowan tells his mate.
“It’s not just the money, it’s f***ing what I’m getting from this.’’
He tells Mr Fitzsimmons he has nothing to hide as “you know it all now’’.
Cowan tells him he wants to be an asset, not a “liability’’ or a “hindrance’’.
“I want to be an asset,’’ he said.
“You know I’m willing to do virtually f***ing anything.
“Still the violence thing I’m, yeah … I’m not big on that but you know if it’s required it’s required at the time, sort of thing.’’
Cowan tells Mr Fitzsimmons he might rent a little unit closer to the city if he had to cut ties with Tracey.
Mr Fitzsimmons tells him that Geoff or Arnold will check out “what needs to be cleared up’’.
“Just let him know that I’m willing to sever all ties with family and friends if need be,’’ Cowan tells him.
“If it has to be, it has to be.’’
Mr Fitzsimmons tells Cowan not to put a new SIM card in his phone yet because the gang had a work-around to avoid the cops.
Cowan tells him he’d have to say no to any business trips to Queensland with “this thing popping its head up again’’.
“I probably wouldn’t even be asked to go to Queensland anyway, so,’’ he said.
Mr Fitzsimmons tells him the bosses tell them where to go.
He tells him: “What a f***ing life we live’’.
“Things that your dreams are made of,’’ Cowan said.
Mr Fitzsimmons asks Cowan for “one hundred per cent honesty’’ from now on.
“Apologies about not, but yeah, it’s a hard thing to f***ing broach with anybody,’’ Cowan said.
Mr Fitzsimmons said he was on his way to Kalgoorlie the next day, Tuesday, August 9, 2011, when he received a phone call from his boss, Geoff, asking him to bring Cowan back to Perth immediately.
The jury heard another audio recording of the moment they were asked to turn around because Arnold, the “Big Boss’’, was in town and staying at the Hyatt.
“Fucking hell, Arnold wants to have a chat to ya (sic),’’ Mr Fitzsimmons told Cowan.
He told Cowan it was probably about him getting a spot on a “decent job’’.
But Cowan asked if it might be about the problem Craig, the corrupt police officer, brought to their attention.
At the end of the recording, Mr Fitzsimmons told the jury he drove back to the Hyatt Hotel, parked in the undercover car park and met Arnold in room.
He said he was asked to leave with a female undercover officer, posing as an associate of the gang, and Cowan was left with Arnold.
11.25am: On the recording, an undercover police officer from Western Australia who was known to Cowan as Paul “Fitzy” Fitzsimmons and Cowan debrief about their meeting with Geoff.
“I tell ya (sic), there’s nothing they don’t fix man, nothing,’’ Mr Fitzsimmons tells Cowan.
Cowan tells him about getting called into speak with homicide detectives in Brisbane where he confronted them by saying: “If you ever want to speak to me again you only arrest me for it.”
“I’ve done shit you know, f***ing cleared me man so you know,” Cowan tells Fitzy.
He tells him he thought Joe Emery was a bit “suss’’ and thought he was “a reporter put on the plane to talk to me’’.
“I thought it was a bit suss this bloke starts talking to me,’’ Cowan said.
Cowan said he was worried about the subpoena.
“I know you say don’t worry about it but it’s still going to be in the pit of my stomach,’’ he said.
“The worse thing that can happen from it is I don’t get a phone call from you again … That’s the worst thing that can happen.’’
Cowan tells Mr Fitzsimmons he had “nothing on my conscience’’ to worry about.
“As long as I contact me (sic) parents at least once a month that’s all I care about,’’ he said.
Cowan said it was “like my dream is coming to an end’’.
Mr Fitzsimmons tells him again there was nothing the gang couldn’t fix.
11am: On the recording, an undercover police officer from Western Australia who was known to Cowan as Paul “Fitzy” Fitzsimmons and Cowan find a park and scramble for a coin to put in the ticket machine.
He tells Cowan just to tell the crime group the truth.
“I’ve talked you up anyway so f***ing everyone knows that you’re a good bloke man, so…’’ he said.
“If I didn’t think you were a good bloke you wouldn’t be running with me, you know, so. Because I’ve got everything to lose otherwise, you know.’’
They met with the state crime gang boss, Geoff.
Mr Fitzsimmons tells Geoff that a chick Craig had “checked out’’ for the gang had turned up all right.
Cowan feeds Geoff information about a car that needs to be “gotten rid of” for another undercover officer, called Jason.
Then Mr Fitzsimmons tells Geoff about the subpoena out for Cowan.
“I’ve come up with a red flag in Queensland, a subpoena for Coroner’s court … in Queensland, ah, it’s about the Daniel Morcombe disappearance,’’ Cowan tells him.
Geoff tells him he appreciates his honesty.
“I’ve always said from the start, Shaddo. You know, we and me, the best way to work is honesty, you know, I’m not about judging people … I’m about getting the job done and getting on with life,’’ he said.
“We can pretty much resolve most of them okay but let me speak to Craig and, ah, I’ll find out what the guts of it is.’’
Cowan tells them he was never arrested and any subpoena for Brett Cowan would be “null and void’’ because now he was legally known as Shaddo Hunter.
He cited another case he’d heard of where police issued a subpoena for a person who had changed their name.
“Because I was living in the area, I lived within a thirty kilometre radius or whatever it was when he went missing,’’ Cowan said.
“But I’ve got an alibi, they’ve been through it all, even the police last time because I was getting hammered at the start of it.’’
Geoff thanks Cowan for being up front and tells him not to stress.
He asks if he’s happy to keep “boxing on’’ with the work and play a part in the so-called big job.
“At the end of the day, you’ve been honest with me and I appreciate that and, mate, we can work with you, so don’t worry,’’ Geoff said.
They laughed that Craig the corrupt police officer was having a “gonk’’ or a sleep in his police car when they met him.
Cowan tells Geoff the corrupt officer had his subpoena information “flagged’’ from Queensland, so it would come to him first.
Geoff tells Cowan if Mr Fitzsimmons is vouching for him, he must “be doing something right’’.
He tells him he wasn’t stressed about it.
“I won’t say there’s nothing we can’t fix but pretty much, well mate, we’ll work across a lot of things,’’ he said.
He tells the gang he’s on sickness benefits with Centrelink and assures them he’s not declaring any income earned through them.
Cowan tells them he thought the Queensland problem was “home and hosed’’.
10.40am: In the recording, an undercover police officer from Western Australia who was known to Cowan as Paul “Fitzy” Fitzsimmons tells Cowan not to stress as he was “part of the brotherhood’’.
“We’re the best blokes in the world at cleaning up s***, you know, any hassles so … and he didn’t say he’d give a f***, Craig didn’t give a f*** so…,’’ he said.
Cowan agreed Craig seemed to think that he shouldn’t worry about the fresh subpoena.
“I am, I’m thinking about it but I’m not letting it get to me,’’ Cowan said.
“This it’d be the only thing that stuffs me up with youse (sic), this’d be the only thing that stops me from…”
Mr Fitzsimmons: “It won’t mate.’’
Cowan: “Coming in, coming in with youse (sic) would be that.’’
Cowan told Mr Fitzsimmons the police had flown him out to Queensland for the inquest.
“Flew me over fing, and I told her when they book me ticket to fly back, I said ‘Book me Qantas’. I sat on a fing plane all the way over and no drinks, no f***ing food unless you pay for it out of ya (sic) own pocket,’’ he said.
“Once I left over there it was just like, I was going to … cutting all ties with Queensland. The only ties I’ve got there are my parents and my kids.’’
Mr Fitzsimmons tells Cowan the gang was the first family he’d ever had.
“They’re my family mate you know what I’m saying,’’ he said.
The conversation between the pair turned to peak-hour traffic in Perth, where they were driving, at 4.50pm.
Then Mr Fitzsimmons asked him about his unusual name change.
Cowan said his dog’s name was Shaddo but “I’ve had like that name for ages’’.
“You know I just changed the spelling of it, ah, and Hunter just fell there one night,’’ Cowan told Fitzsimmons.
“…That f***ing flows nicely and Tracey’s ‘Yeah I like that’. So that’s how I became Shaddo Hunter. It was just going to be Shaddo Hunter.’’
Mr Fitzsimmons: “What’s N-unya?’’
Cowan: “N-unya business.’’
They laughed on the audio, with Mr Fitzsimmons adding Cowan was “a funny bloke’’.
10am: On the stand again is an undercover police officer from Western Australia who was known to Cowan as Paul “Fitzy” Fitzsimmons.
He said he’d been in contact with Cowan since early May.
“He had a long goatee beard and was most times unshaven,’’ Mr Fitzsimmons said.
He said by the time he met Cowan at a shopping centre in Perth on August 3, 2011, the accused had shaved the “wispy’’ goatee he was known to wear.
Mr Fitzsimmons said the audio recordings he took of his time undercover with Cowan were punctuated by bad language and subjects most people wouldn’t ordinarily want to talk about.
The jury listened to an audio recording between Mr Fitzsimmons and Cowan on that day.
They were driving with the car radio on to meet an alleged corrupt police officer known as Craig, played by another undercover operative.
In the conversation, Craig tells Mr Fitzsimmons he’d had checks done on a woman with aliases and warned him to stay away from an area that would be “hot’’ the next night.
Then Craig passes on information he had been told about Cowan.
“There’s a subpoena from Queensland for Brett, it’s yeah, do you know about that?’’ Craig says on the recording.
“For a coroners court.’’
Cowan chimes in “that’s been and gone’’.
Craig: “No it’s … this is fresh.’’
Mr Fitzsimmons tells Craig “no worries’’ and he’ll fill in his superior, Geoff.
As they head off, he asks Cowan what it was about.
“I was living in the area where Daniel Morcombe went missing from and that’s how I met Joe on the plane after being subpoenaed from the coroners court in Queensland,’’ Cowan said.
“I had nothing to do with it and my alibi is one hundred per cent.’’
Mr Fitzsimmons tells him not to stress because there is nothing the crime gang “can’t make go away’’.
He tells him to be honest.
“There’s nothing we can’t get fixed but the thing they want, I know … there’s nothing they can’t fix. Don’t stress about s*** man, but you gotta (sic) be honest, 100 per cent honest,’’ Mr Fitzsimmons said.
Cowan tells him he didn’t think the subpoenas would work anyway, because he had changed his name to Shaddo N-unyah Hunter.
“So if they’re sending out subpoenas under Brett Cowan, well, I’m not that person anymore,’’ Cowan said.
“If I had known there was going to be another subpoena I would have said something to you or Jeff about it.’’