Day 13 of Daniel Morcombe Murder trial

Courtroom sketch of Daniel Morcombe murder accused Brett Peter Cowan.

Courtroom sketch of Daniel Morcombe murder accused Brett Peter Cowan.

Cowan has pleaded not guilty to murder, indecent treatment and misconduct with a corpse on December 7, 2003.

4.30pm: The trial has been adjourned for the day. It will recommence at 10am tomorrow.

In the last part of the secretly taped audio recording heard by the jury today, Cowan tells undercover detective “Fitzy” he was looking at starting up a sandmining business from the site off Kings Rd.

Cowan told Fitzy about a woman who claimed to have buried Daniel Morcombe’s clothes and was apparently charged by police.

“I knew the clothes weren’t buried, you know, people wanting to earn notoriety,’’ he said.

He said the shoes the boy was wearing weren’t “Nikes or anything like that’’, just lace-up sandshoes.

“The only other thing is that I’ll have to get done to myself, is I’ve got to get these tattoo, this tattoo covered up, just straight over the top, just get something black,’’ Cowan said.

Cowan said he was cooking a barbecue for dinner on the night he killed Daniel Morcombe and burned his clothes in it.

“Threw it in there, it got burnt and it all went into the compost bin, all the ashes,’’ he said.

Cowan said he thought it was clever he went to the inquest stoned because if he was called up again, he could claim what he said last time was “drug-induced’’.

He said his palms were “wet’’ during the last inquest.

Fitzy dropped Cowan back at the hotel at 4.34pm.

4.10pm: On the walkthrough video played to the jury, undercover detective “Fitzy” walks the Queensland detectives back towards their car and a clearing with drums, sand blasting frames, machinery and metal structures.

Fitzy told the jury that was the place where Cowan told them he used a tree branch to clear the tracks left by his car.

The video then jumped to a bridge on Kings Rd at Coochin Creek, the one Cowan later told Fitzy and Ian was the wrong one.

It then cut and jumped to a different bridge.

“That first bridge we went to Mr Cowan quite quickly recognised it as not being the bridge where he threw the clothes,’’ Fitzy said.

He said the second bridge was just 500m or 600m away on Woods Rd.

The video showed trees and branches in the creek, which Cowan said were not there in 2003.

“He stopped his car on the bridge, didn’t get out, just reached over and grabbed Daniel’s clothes then threw them out of the car window into the creek,’’ Fitzy said Cowan told him.

The video then jumped to a big mango tree where Cowan told the undercover police the demountable building had once been on the macadamia farm off Kings Rd.

“That was a tree that was indicated was within the vicinity of the demountable building where Mr Cowan said he took the Daniel to,’’ Fitzy said.

Fitzy told the jury he returned to Brisbane and met Cowan again that day, stopping at a cafe at Redcliffe.

The jury heard an extract of the conversation, secretly recorded, on the afternoon of August 11, 2011.

Cowan said he burned the clothes he was wearing on the day he killed Daniel Morcombe.

“The ashes are f—ing through me garden and me garden, I had to rip up and f—ing to taken elsewhere (sic),’’ he said.

Cowan told Fitzy he thought he was “gone’’ when the police came and questioned him.

“I thought I was gone man, really…’’ he said.

“I just stuck to me story…”

But he said he couldn’t sleep that night.

“There’s no proof it was me,’’ he said.

He told Fitzy the only way out he could see would be to for “Brett Shaddo’’ to die and to go overseas and return with a new identity.

Cowan said he read the paper the previous Saturday and it said there were 25 detectives working on the Morcombe case.

He said he thought he was wearing shorts and a singlet the day Daniel was killed.

On the recording, Fitzy receives a phone call and tells Cowan again that his bosses were worried about the missing watch and wallet.

Cowan said he didn’t have it and had never seen it.

“I just went in I paid no attention to his clothing whatsoever, I just took `em off,’’ Cowan said.

“Everything of his went into the creek. I don’t have any of it … whatsoever.’’

Cowan swore he did not know the whereabouts of the watch.

On the recording, Fitzy makes a call and passes on what Cowan told him.

Cowan said he thought he was at the Kings Rd crime scene for 15 or 20 minutes with the boy.

He said he stopped at Sandra Drummond’s home to pick up some pot afterwards.

“I can’t believe I’m just talking so matter-of-fact …’’ Cowan said.

“It’s just like … how it’s coming outta me mouth you know it’s just so, it’s just like nothing.’’

He said he only thought about it when it was mentioned in the news.

“I’ve always been a news watcher and shit,’’ he said.

Cowan said he picked Daniel up from the bus stop and made general conversation with him like “the sky’s blue today and that sort of sh–’’.

He said nobody needed to know.

“Once, once it is sorted well that’s it as far as I’m concerned,’’ Cowan said.

He said he thought he crushed the boy’s airway.

“Cause it crushed that and I, like only goin’ by CSI and sh– like that once that’s crushed, you’re gone. You die from lack of oxygen,’’ he told Fitzy on the tape.

He said the boy was heavy but the sandmining site wasn’t as overgrown as it was in 2011.

Cowan said he positioned the boy so he was lying on his back or his side, with his body positioned from east to west, “so the rising sun rises in their faces’’.

“What I’ve done is f—ing 100 per cent protect myself …” he said.

“I wasn’t out to kill him either you know, or that was definitely not on the cards.”

He said he would have taken the boy back to the shopping centre.

Cowan said he was shocked the body had broken down less than two weeks later.

3.30pm: The jury has continued listening to an audiotape of Cowan secretly recorded by undercover detectives “Fitzy” and “Ian”.

Cowan said he was unsure if any hair, skin or DNA belonging to him would be on the clothes when he threw them into Coochin Creek.

Fitzy told the jury Cowan was taken to a hotel near the airport that same night.

“We got back late, it was dark,’’ he said.

He said the following day, Cowan was told he could do his own thing during the morning.

Fitzy said he met with Queensland detectives and walked through the Kings Rd crime scene, including the bridge over Coochin Creek.

The jury was played a silent video of the walk-through with Queensland detectives and the undercover officers from Western Australia on August 11, 2011.

The video showed the men walking down towards the embankment where Cowan told them he left the body, fringed by long grass, thick foliage and tree trunks.

At the four-minute mark of the video, the men walk towards the area where Cowan told them he entered the sandmining site.

The video showed a steep descent where the officers had to first sit down and hold on to a tree trunk in order to navigate the way down.

“This area is quite thick scrub … I think this is the path Mr Cowan said he dragged and carried Daniel through,’’ Fitzy told the jury.

The jury was told the 10-minute mark showed the men walking along the same path Cowan had led Fitzy and Ian down the day earlier.

“That body of water is where Mr Cowan mentioned in the audio that’s where he thinks he put the body,’’ Fitzy said.

He said it was adjacent to a larger water body.

Fitzy said the day before he had left a stick in the fork of a tree, near to the pond area, and the officers picked up the same stick and held it up for the camera.

The men pointed to the place where Cowan told them he found a piece of skull.

On the video, Fitzy was making an up and down motion to describe the action Cowan told him he used to break up the piece of bone with a shovel.

The jury saw the brown, muddy pond, an overgrown island and ferny, muddy and pine-needle covered forest floor.

At 19 minutes and 30 seconds into the video, the men look up at the embankment, which looked steep and rocky, and then begin to walk up it.

1.15pm: In the secretly recorded audiotape played to the jury, Cowan told the undercover officers he knew as Fitzy and Ian that there used to be a mobile timber mill on the sandmining site.

Cowan told them he moved his car and walked back to where it was initially parked in order to “scrub out’’ the tyre tracks with a branch.

The three men returned to the car and drove off, back past the old tobacco drying sheds on the macadamia farm where the demountable had been.

By this time it was 5pm on August 10, 2011.

Cowan told them he couldn’t remember which bridge it was from that he threw the boy’s clothes into the creek.

“I just grabbed it and threw it out the window,’’ he said.

“Yeah, it all went out the driver’s window so…’’

He took them to a different bridge.

“Not that bridge, it was this bridge,’’ Cowan said.

“It floated and then as it was floatin’ away it was sinkin’. It’s said every year that it rains really hard that bridge goes under water, so …’’

Cowan said there were no logs or trees in the way, “it was just water’’.

Footsteps and crickets could be heard on the tape, trudging near to the bridge over Coochin Creek.

“Just f—in’ threw it out, how it would have landed like down to here,’’ Cowan said.

He said he didn’t take the boy’s fob watch.

“If it fell out in me car they would have found it,’’ he said.

“He went ‘oh no’ and struggled and I thought he was gonna get away,’’ Cowan said.

“Um, just struggled. I had a hold of his pants and when he went ‘oh no’ and pulled his pants back up and tried to get away, that’s when I went (noise) and we both went into the ground and yeah just pulled me arm in tight and heard a ‘ch’.

“I probably would have been caught in the end if I’d … and I let him go.’’

Fitzy: “It’s just that he wouldn’t play the f—in game, eh?’’

Cowan: “More or less.’’

Cowan told them he expected to find a skeleton and a skull when he returned to the sandmining site.

“But there’s big wild dogs f—in everything out here,’’ he said.

Ian told Cowan they would drive back past Sandra Drummond’s house at Beerwah and then he’d organise a hotel for him for the night.

He said Arnold wanted to meet with him again.

“I stopped at me dealer’s place on the way home. They are saying that I didn’t. And I know I took em out to the car and showedem the chipper,’’ Cowan said.

He told the undercover officers the sheet that was in the car was “long gone’’, ripped up for rags.

Cowan said he wasn’t sure why he took the boy’s clothes off.

“Well um, I don’t know, f—in, it’s red, easily seen … Sorta thing, yeah. Clothes take longer to break down,’’ he said.

12.40pm: On the secretly recorded audiotape, Cowan said he was talking to the boy as they drove.

He said it would have only taken around 10 minutes to drive to the Sunshine Plaza but they had, by then, driven further.

Cowan directed the undercover cops through the back roads of Beerwah, telling “Ian” at intervals to either keep going straight or turn left or right.

“I came out here to enquire about a block of land out here to do sandblasting,’’ Cowan said.

He said he hadn’t been back to the Kings Rd site as they take a wrong turn.

“I haven’t been down here since. Yeah, so no, we’ve gotta go back to the other one…,’’ he said.

He tells “Fitzy” and Ian he was “just driving normally’’ with the boy.

Cowan said it was private property and there used to be a demountable house.

“There was a house, like a relocatable, that’s where it happened,’’ Cowan said.

“That’s where it happened. I thought he was going to run and my arm went around his neck and I choked him out, I actually felt that break in there,’’ he said.

Cowan said he went inside the house to make as though his missus told him to come inside for a drink.

He told them he put the boy’s body in the back of his car, with the mulcher.

He said he “blacked out’’ his tyre marks using a tree branch and carried the boy’s body.

“And I dropped him down there,’’ Cowan said.

He took Fitzy and Ian traipsing through the scrub and down the embankment.

He said he went back to the crime scene off Kings Rd 10 days later.

“There was no bones, no teeth, nothing, there was just what I thought was a bit of skull. Then I crushed it with the shovel and f—ing shovelled into the ground,’’ he said.

“I took the clothes and everything with me. I stripped him.’’

Cowan said he dragged the body near to a tree.

“I came back to like bury him,’’ Cowan said.

“And found nothing except for … what’s left of the body when it breaks down. Nothing grows for four or five years because of the body fats.’’

The undercover officers asked Cowan if he was OK.

Cowan: “Yeah, I’m nervous, just wanna, yeah I don’t really want to be here.’’

He told them he used a palm tree to scrub out his tracks through the scrub.

“Oh, I didn’t go through his wallet or nothing like that … I just wanted to get out of here after. I had no intention of knocking him at all, I just wanted to have some fun …’’

He said the demountable farmhouse was relocated.

“And even if my DNA was, if they had that house and my DNA was found in it, I’ve had my man fun in there,’’ he said.

He said the boy was scratched up when he moved him.

“He got scratches and shit like that but like it’s been eight years, there’s not going to be anything here,’’ Cowan said.

“I was dragging and carrying.’’

12.20pm: On the secretly recorded audio tape, Cowan tells undercover police officers “Fitzy” and Ian where he saw the broken-down Sunbus on Nambour Connection Rd.

“I can’t remember whether I seen the broken-down bus on the way in, into town or not, I know there was a broken down bus,’’ he said.

“It was just on the side of this road.’’

He said he didn’t deviate from Nambour Connection Rd until he reached the Kiel Mountain Rd overpass.

“Along here somewhere I spotted him,’’ Cowan said. “About here probably. Yeah, he was standing like close to the road.’’

He said he drove past Daniel before parking his car.

“Looking for the bus, the bus had broken down, it was late. He was a f—ing cute little and I parked right here that’s where I parked there,’’ he said.

“I sat up against the, the wall you know waiting and um yeah when um the bus drove past he was like ‘oh f*** what am I gonna do?’ and I offered him a lift. Came and got in the car and we left.’’

He said Daniel sat in the front seat and there was “no struggle or nothing’’.

Cowan said the boy who got into his car told him he was going to get a haircut at Sunshine Plaza.

“I told him I’d give him a lift but I had no intention of taking him to the shopping centre,’’ he said.

“I really don’t know what I was thinking; I’m an opportunistic offender.’’

Cowan said he wanted to move from where they had parked: “I just don’t want to sit here for too long.”

He said did not talk much to the boy.

“Like it was more in my head where I’m goin’, what am I doin’,’’ Cowan said.

“I just said, ‘I’ve gotta duck home quickly and just let me missus know what was going on.’ And that’s why we’re going down the hill and not straight ahead. He didn’t ask me where I was goin’, I said that to him and explained that to him.

“Yeah, he ‘All right, no worries,’ I don’t know exactly what he said but he was, he was all right with it.’’

Cowan told them said he pretended he was waiting for a person to get off the bus, and made as though he would have to go into town to pick them up.

He said the boy did not fight him.

“He just more or less sittin’ the way I’m sittin’,’’ Cowan said.

“The only thing he would have touched would be the door handle and the seatbelt.’’

Cowan told Fitzy and Ian to keep driving until they reached Roys Rd at Beerwah.

11.30am: Cowan tells the undercover police he knows as Ian and Fitzy they will get to see “Queensland’s biggest attractions’’, even the Big Pineapple.

He introduces Nambour as “Nam-boring’’.

“Nam-boring. It’s like Perth, you know, after f**kin seven, eight o’clock at night,’’ he said. “It’s dead. Just a ghost town.’’

He points out the Big Pineapple and tells them that’s where he had his wedding reception.

“It used to be a f**king real big tourist attraction,’’ Cowan said, pointing out that everything had changed since the highway was put in.

He points out the Suncoast Christian Church Christian Outreach Centre near Kiel Mountain Rd at Woombye.

“That’s the church I was married in. That’s where I parked my car, picked him up,’’ Cowan said.

Cowan tells them about a trailer he was towing one day unhitching and a four-wheel-drive coming off it while he was going down a hill.

“I’m going around the roundabout and it’s just like ah `where’s the f*cking trailer’?’’ he said.

Cowan takes them to Frank Davis’ house at Nambour, where he went to collect the mulcher from.

He said he wasn’t there long because they were in a hurry to go out.

“More or less loaded it and left,’’ he said.

11.15am: Still testifying from the witness stand is the 114th witness, an undercover police officer from Western Australia known as Paul “Fitzy’’ Fitzsimmons.

The jury listened to a secret two-hour recording of the journey Fitzy and Ian took with Cowan as they drove through the Sunshine Coast on August 10, 2011.

At the beginning, the trio are at Brisbane Airport after flying in from Perth.

“Longest flight to Perth,’’ Cowan said.

He said he would take the batteries out of his phone in case the police knew his number and were able to track it.

Cowan tells Fitzy and Ian he will take them north to a farm in Beerwah that produced avocado and macadamia nuts and that used to be used for tobacco growing.

The trio get into a car together by 2.30pm.

Fitzy: “By the end of the night mate, it will be done.’’

Cowan tells Ian and Fitzy he lived at Bli Bli with his aunt and uncle before getting engaged and moving to the house on Alfs Pinch Rd.

He said he left in 2003 or 2004 and moved to Nambour, later relocating to Moranbah, west of Mackay.

Cowan tells Ian and Fitzy the area off Kings Rd at Beerwah is where he used to test his Pajero “whenever I did any work’’ on it.

He takes them to his former home on Alfs Pinch Rd and tells them he moved to there in 1998 when he was working there.

Cowan tells them his wife didn’t know about what he got up to that day, only that he was going out to pick up a mulcher.

“Nobody knew anything about what I actually did. This is the first word I’ve ever spoken about it,’’ Cowan said.

He tells them he swapped his Pajero for a Verada on Russell Island but didn’t know if it was still there.

Cowan said he used to drive the car between Beerwah and Moranbah “all the time’’.

He points out his drug dealer Sandra Drummond’s home on Peachester Rd in Beerwah.

“She still lives there, she owns the house,’’ Cowan said.

“I could get anything I wanted, it was mainly pot and I just had a little bit of speed.’’

Cowan told them he left his house between 1pm and 1.30pm on December 7, 2003.

“I wasn’t 100 per cent on the time I left, I wasn’t 100 per cent on the time that I got home either, you know?’’ he said.

He said he never wore a watch because of his sand-blasting work.

10.30am: The jury continued listening to a secret audio recording between undercover officers and Cowan, taken after the meeting with the criminal organisations’ so-called big boss Arnold in which the accused confessed to the killing on August 9, 2011.

Cowan told them he was “either stupid or very smart to say that I was stoned’’ on the day of the alleged murder.

Arnold told Fitzy to take Cowan to the Mullaloo Hotel to stay the night.

Fitzy tells Cowan he booked three flights back to Brisbane from Perth the next morning at 7.30am.

On the tape, they talk about whether or not they will leave the car in long-term parking.

“This time next week mate, it will all be in ‘ya past and we will never f—ing talk about it ever again’,’’ Fitzy tells Cowan.

Fitzy told the court he drove Cowan to the Mullaloo Hotel for the night, returning to pick him up the next morning with another undercover officer called Ian.

He said they arrived in Brisbane in the afternoon of August 10, 2011.

He said they picked up a car from Queensland police that was described to Cowan as belonging to the “Queensland crew’’ of the crime gang.

Fitzy said Ian was driving when they headed north of Brisbane towards the Sunshine Coast.

He said they first drove to Beerwah.

“The accused Mr Cowan directed us along the Bruce Highway and then we turned left along Steve Irwin Way and then we went to where Mr Cowan said he lived at the time,’’ Fitzy told the court.

Fitzy said they then drove past Sandra Drummond’s house, which Cowan identified as belonging to his drug dealer.

He said they then drove back onto Steve Irwin Way, past Australia Zoo, to the Bruce Highway until they reached the Nambour Connection Rd.

Fitzy said they drove past the site where Daniel was abducted from on their way to Frank Davis’ house in Nambour, where Cowan said he picked up the mulcher on December 7, 2003.

“We turned around then and then we headed back out the way we came along the connection road, Mr Cowan identified the broken-down bus and where he’d seen Daniel,’’ he said.

Fitzy pointed on a map to a roundabout just near the Kiel Mountain Rd overpass and showed the jury where he parked near the Christian Outreach Centre car park.

“That’s where the accused says he picked up Daniel,’’ he said.

Fitzy said Cowan then took the undercover officers on the route he drove that day with Daniel.

He said they drove south to Beerwah towards Kings Rd at the Glass House Mountains.

Fitzy said Cowan drove the wrong way on Bassetts Rd initially and they had to do a U-turn when he realised, back towards Kings Rd.

“It’s quite thick bushland so we drove along Kings Rd and went over a bridge and drove to a macadamia plantation,’’ he said.

“Mr Cowan then showed us where it had changed a little bit and he showed us where there were some houses and he indicated where a demountable houses and told us where he stopped … went inside and asked Daniel if he wanted a drink of water … and then he’s got Daniel inside the house.’’

He said they then drove to a clearing in an enclosed bush area.

“Mr Cowan told us that he’d killed Daniel inside the house, carried him out, put him in the back of his Pajero and drove about 200m down to that clearing, a clearing that he knew, parked his car and was aware there was a sand-mining area at that location,’’ he said.

“He showed us where he put Daniel and he indicated that at the time he stripped the clothes off Daniel.’’

Fitzy said Cowan told them about a small creek on Woods Rd where he pulled up and threw Daniel’s clothes into the water.



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