Day 18 of trial of Brett Peter Cowan
3.30pm: Justice Roslyn Atkinson began her summing up of the evidence heard in the trial at 2.33pm.
She told the jury Brett Peter Cowan, 44, also known as Shaddo N-unyah Hunter, had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Daniel Morcombe, to his indecent treatment and misconduct with his corpse on December 7, 2003.
She used a power point presentation to work through her main points to the jury.
Justice Atkinson said it was the jury’s function to determine the facts on the evidence, to assess the reliability of the evidence and to reach a unanimous verdict.
She said it was the defendant’s right not to give or call evidence.
She said the prosecution bore the burden of proving the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
Justice Atkinson said it should not be assumed that because Cowan did not give evidence, it would add weight to the case against him.
She said the jury could draw logical and rational inferences from the facts.
“You are not to indulge in intuition or guessing,’’ she said.
Justice Atkinson told the jury the prosecution had to discharge its burden of proving the guilt of the defendant by proving it beyond reasonable doubt.
She asked the jury to dismiss all feelings of sympathy or prejudice.
“As I have emphasised to you, you must approach your duty dispassionately, deciding the facts upon the whole of the evidence,’’ she said.
She said the jury had to consider the credibility and reliability of witnesses.
“It is for you to judge whether a witness is telling the truth and correctly recalls the facts about which he or she has testified,’’ she said.
Justice Atkinson told the jury in order to convict the accused of murder it needed to be satisfied of four things: that Daniel Morcombe was dead, that Cowan caused his death, that the killing was unlawful and that the defendant did so intending to cause his death or grievous bodily harm.
She said there was a possibility the death was an event that Cowan did not foresee, that is it was an accident.
In that event, it would need to find Cowan not guilty, she said.
Justice Atkinson said the prosecution had to prove the defendant intended for the death to occur, foresaw it as a possible consequence or prove that an ordinary person would have seen it as a possible consequence.
She said the jury could reach a verdict of guilty on murder if it found that Cowan’s act was of such a nature as it was likely to endanger Daniel Morcombe’s life and that Cowan did that act in carrying out the unlawful purpose of indecently dealing with him.
She said if the jury was not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of Cowan’s intent or unlawful purpose, it could find him guilty of manslaughter.
Justice Atkinson took the jury to count two against the accused, the indecent dealing of a child under 16.
She said the jury needed to be satisfied that Cowan dealt with Daniel Morcombe, that the dealing was indecent, unlawful and that the boy was aged under 16 at the time.
On count three, improper interference with a corpse, she told the jury it needed to be satisfied Cowan interfered with the boy’s body and find it was improper.
She summarised the evidence heard during the trial, beginning with the evidence of Bruce and Denise Morcombe.
1.30pm: Barrister Angus Edwards, for Cowan, said Cowan told police the shoes, socks and clothes were bundled all together and thrown into the creek.
“The reason his confessions don’t match the objective facts is because he’s not guilty,’’ he said.
He asked the jury whether the prosecution had proved beyond reasonable doubt there was only one way to explain Cowan’s knowledge of the location of the bones and clothing.
He directed the jury’s attention to Douglas Brian Jackway, reiterating his evidence and the witness sightings of a blue car near the overpass.
“Does that not all lead you to one rational logical conclusion, that Jackway, together with others, abducted and killed Daniel Morcombe?’’ Mr Edwards said.
“That on heroin he told McLean about it and McLean told Mr Cowan and Mr Cowan made up a story?’’
He told the jury they had to reject the possibility of Jackway’s involvement or the involvement of a blue car beyond a reasonable doubt.
“Unless you can say beyond reasonable doubt that Jackway had nothing to do with it, that a blue sedan had nothing to do with it, that the only explanation for Mr Cowan’s knowledge is that he’s the killer, then you must find Mr Cowan not guilty of all charges,’’ he said.
The trial will resume at 2.30pm when Justice Roslyn Atkinson is expected to begin her closing remarks to the jury.
12.45pm: Barrister Angus Edwards, for Cowan, continuing his closing address to the jury, said Cowan wanted to hold on to the “mateship’’ the gang gave him.
He quoted Cowan telling undercover police officer Paul “Fitzy’’ Fitzsimmons about the new life he’d been initiated into as “the things that your dreams are made of’’.
He took the jury to the confessional video with the crime gang’s big boss, Arnold, on August 9, 2011.
He said Cowan told Arnold he was concerned about his alibi because his drug dealer had changed her story about him visiting her house on December 7, 2003.
Mr Edwards said Cowan, although under pressure, initially told Arnold he did not have anything to do with Daniel Morcombe’s murder.
“That sort of operation, that sort of questioning, you might think is not designed to get the truth but designed to get a confession no matter what,’’ he said.
“The carrots and the sticks which were offered render his confession entirely unreliable.’’
He said someone other than Cowan told police in 2006 the body of Daniel Morcombe was near to a creek at Beerwah that ran into Pumicestone Passage.
“That’s five years before Cowan ever made a confession,’’ he said.
“Daniel Morcombe could have been anywhere in the world, he could have been taken interstate, he could have been in the sea, in a creek, in a lake, he could have been … I don’t mean to be indelicate here but anything could have happened.
“In all the world, five years before Mr Cowan made any confession, somebody else was giving indications of where Daniel Morcombe’s remains would be found.’’
He told the jury Cowan gave undercover police the same details in his conversation with undercover police.
Mr Edwards listed the evidence Cowan had given to police that was inconsistent, including by claiming the body was “off Roys Rd’’, by claiming he took the rear seats out of his car and by taking them to the wrong bridge.
He said Cowan told Fitzy in a conversation after the confession, “From what Arnold told me, I’m good for it’’.
Mr Edwards said Cowan was repeatedly told there would be a “world of hurt’’ for anyone who did the wrong thing by the gang.
“If you cross a national crime gang, what’s going to happen? If you know too much, what’s going to happen?,’’ he said.
“Do you think Mr Cowan knew what ‘dropped like a hot potato’ was a euphemism for?’’
Mr Edwards took the jury to the timeline drawn up by police of the afternoon of December 7, 2003.
“Could he have done all of those things in the time he was away from his home?’’ he said.
He told the jury Cowan claimed he visited his dealer’s house for between half an hour and 45 minutes, arriving home by 3pm at the latest.
“The time just doesn’t fit in, he didn’t have the time to commit the offences,’’ Mr Edwards said.
“It’s the lie of somebody who just hasn’t thought through how long something like that might really take.’’
He tells the jury Cowan learned what he knew of the moment Daniel was killed by “watching it on television’’.
“There’s not a single soul who saw a man and a boy walking to a white 4WD,’’ Mr Edwards said.
He said Daniel’s own father claimed his son was unlikely to get into a car with a stranger.
“Is it not more likely a scenario that these men in a blue sedan stalked and abducted, dragged, pulled Daniel Morcombe to the car then a story that Brett Cowan told?’’ he said.
Mr Edwards said Cowan claimed to have thrown the boy’s shoes into the creek when instead they were found in bush at the sandmining site off Kings Rd.
He said Cowan also took undercover police to the wrong place when leading them to the bones, up to 70m away from where they were found.
“He took them to the wrong spot because he doesn’t know where in that area the bones were, he’s just in that area,’’ Mr Edwards said.
11.15am: Barrister Angus Edwards, for Cowan, told the jury no one had come forward to explain the presence of a blue car near to the overpass, despite numerous public appeals and offers of rewards.
“Not one of those people has come forward … innocent people on the prosecution case, despite the fact they could have excluded this blue sedan and explained it all to the prosecution,’’ he said.
He said the “innocent’’ drivers of the blue car had never come forward because they were involved in the abduction of Daniel Morcombe.
“They have no innocent explanation,’’ Mr Edwards said.
He asked the jury why no one had ever seen a man and the boy walking back to the Christian Outreach Centre car park.
“There’s a very good reason why not a single person saw that. If a single person had seen anything like that, you think they would have been called in this trial,’’ he said.
Mr Edwards said Cowan’s confession was “demonstrably false’’ because not a single person had seen what happened, “it was a lie’’.
He told the jury about the false confessions given to police by Edward Kneebone and another man called Davey.
Mr Edwards said Kneebone gave false versions to police over a number of interview
“You know people can make false confessions, detailed false confessions,’’ he said.
“The difference between those men and Mr Cowan is that he knew a piece of information they didn’t know, he knew the location of the bones and the clothes.’’
Mr Edwards conceded he could not argue the confession from Cowan to undercover police was not compelling.
“That’s a powerful piece of evidence, but it’s only powerful if it’s a reliable indicator of guilt,’’ he said.
He said Cowan had been cross-examined at the inquest over two days in early 2011.
“The only truly unique piece of information that came out of Cowan’s confession to police was the location of the body and the clothes,’’ he said.
Mr Edwards asked the jury if they could reject the possibility beyond reasonable doubt that Cowan made his story up.
“He used the details, you might think, that he’d seen in the media to flesh out his lies and try and create a convincing story,’’ he said.
He said Cowan was offered powerful inducements to make a false confession by the undercover crime gang.
“He was a man who wasn’t a part of anything, he had no money, no place to live, had never really been a part of something like this … what the gang offered was not just money but a chance to be a part of something,’’ Mr Edwards said.
“He was a day away from hitting the big time. They told him the ‘big job’ would be hit tomorrow. They were about to cut him loose and all he had to do to make millions of dollars was tell a lie, a convincing lie.’’
Mr Edwards said Cowan told the undercover police “what they wanted to hear’’.
He said it was different from a confession to police, where the repercussions were only negative.
“Here there were only upsides in confessing, to making up a detailed false confession,’’ he said.
“You might think being a suspect for eight years might lead to some dark thoughts, some speculation about what happened.’
Mr Edwards said the police spent months “sucking him in’’ and “manipulating’’ Cowan to be a part of their scenario.
“Do you think he could make up a convincing story for millions of dollars?
“Now he may not be as moral as you and I, indeed he engaged as you know in those scenarios in crimes he thought were being committed … but in the end he was a man with nothing who was being offered everything.
“That was the carrot.’’
Mr Edwards said Cowan played a part he had been “groomed for’’ and used his “ace in the hole’’ by sharing he location of the body and the clothes.
“Just like the police pretended to be crooks, he pretended to be a person who killed Daniel Morcombe,’’ he said.
He said Cowan was willing to do anything to secure his future with the gang, even fake his own death.
10.30am: Barrister Angus Edwards, for Cowan, this morning continued his closing address to the jury.
He took the jury to the evidence of convicted child sex offender Douglas Brian Jackway and his conflicting stories to police about his whereabouts on the day Daniel disappeared.
He said although there was no direct evidence of a conversation between Jackway and Les McLean, which he alleged was later passed on to Cowan, the jury could draw a “rational, logical inference’’ from the evidence.
“Do you think it is all just some bizarre set of coincidences that the man with the blue car, Jackway, disappeared for hours on the day of the abduction?’’ Mr Edwards said.
“A man with a terrible criminal history for doing something very similar?
“[You know] that McLean knew him in prison, and you know they were in the same prison together … that McLean was with him when he took heroin after Jackway was released from prison, that McLean repeatedly tried to telephone Cowan on the day of his arrest, that Mr Cowan asked but was denied an opportunity to speak to Mr McLean.’’
He said the evidence “overwhelming showed’’ Jackway was involved in the abduction of Daniel Morcombe.
“Everyone saw the blue sedan, Jackway’s desperate and inconsistent lies and attempts to provide him with a false alibi in the hours after the abduction of Daniel Morcombe,’’ he said.
He said a man like Jackway driving past Daniel Morcombe as he waited beneath the Kiel Mountain Rd overpass “would have been like a snake going past a wounded mouse’’.
Mr Edwards told the jury a blue car may have “stalked’’ Daniel as he waited for the bus.
He took the jury to the evidence of witnesses who saw a blue car parked on either side of Nambour Connection Rd on December 7, 2003.
He said the evidence from Jessiah Cox of a white 4WD pulled up on the side of the road, not far from overpass, was “spurious’’.
“It’s not the smoking gun the Crown want it to be,’’ Mr Edwards said.
He said the same could not be said for the blue sedan.
Mr Edwards took the jury to the evidence of witnesses who were on the Sunbus when it drove past Daniel.
“In the moment when that went past, there were no vehicles,’’ he said.
He said the passengers on the bus gave differing and varied descriptions of the man they saw standing near to the boy.
“Their descriptions and the persons they saw are so varying you might think that maybe they saw more than one person,’’ he said.
Mr Edwards drew the jury’s attention to the different descriptions of the man they saw standing there.