4.15pm: Sunshine Coast District Forensic Co-ordinator Inspector Arthur Van Panhuis told the jury “entry points’’ marked on the embankment were the areas where police first gained access to the crime scene, in one photo using a ladder to negotiate the bank.
He said there was a drop-off from the embankment to the water of approximately 5m and it was “very steep’’.
Mr Van Panhuis said there had been flooding at the site.
He told the jury he went to inspect a demountable building on Mills Rd, Landsborough that had been moved from the first crime scene to a new location on August 14, 2011.
Mr Van Panhuis said the building had been “totally renovated’’, stripped and re-painted.
“Because of the amount of renovations which had been conducted and the amount of chemicals which had been used and the time taken to do the renovations … we decided there was no value in looking for forensic evidence,’’ he said.
4.05pm: Sunshine Coast District Forensic Co-ordinator Inspector Arthur Van Panhuis said his role was to co-ordinate the search for Daniel Morcombe’s body that took place and to keep the search area secure.
The jury was shown a to-scale map identifying one of the two plots of land off Kings Rd at Glass House Mountains that showed embankments, clearings, log piles, a sand deposit and the waterway.
The locations of items of interest found in the search, including 17 bones, were drawn on the map.
Other items located included two Globe shoes, and the locations of soil samples.
Mr Van Panhuis said the bones were labelled “body sites’’ with an identification number.
3.50pm: The third witness in the murder trial of Brett Cowan is Sunshine Coast District Forensic Co-ordinator Inspector Arthur Van Panhuis.
He told the jury he was made aware that a person had been arrested for Daniel Morcombe’s murder at 11.30am on August 13, 2011.
He said the first was formerly a tobacco farm off Kings Rd, now a macadamia farm, while the second was a property once used for sand mining and extraction.
He told the jury a third crime scene was established near a wooden bridge over Coochin Creek on Wood Rd.
Mr Van Panhuis said the area was thick with bush, pine forest trees, macadamia nut trees, old tobacco drying sheds and long grass.
3.25pm: The second witness in the murder trial of Brett Cowan is Daniel’s mother, Denise Morcombe.
She told the jury the family planned to go together to the Christmas party in Brisbane but the boys stayed home because the rain had delayed their fruit-picking work.
She said she and Bruce returned home about 4pm and was told Daniel had gone to Sunshine Plaza for a haircut as well as to look for some Christmas presents.
Ms Morcombe told the jury she took some rubbish to the end of her driveway in case Daniel returned early on the bus at 4.30pm.
“I didn’t see Daniel or anyone,’’ she said.
An hour later, she said Bruce went to the bus stop beneath the Kiel Mountain overpass to see if Daniel had caught the 5pm bus.
She said she drove to the Sunshine Plaza bus depot to look for Daniel, asked when the last bus was and checked the timetable.
Ms Morcombe said she made a phone call to Sunbus but “it just rang out’’.
She said they drove to another bus stop at Nambour, as well.
She said Daniel went to the movies the night before and was probably wearing the same clothing on the day he went missing: a Billabong t-shirt, dark shorts and Globe brand shoes.
3.15pm: Bruce Morcombe said he provided police with three pairs of his son’s underpants, which were differentiated from his twin brother’s because they were Bonds brand.
During cross-examination by barrister Angus Edwards, for Brett Peter Cowan, Mr Morcombe said his son had caught the Sunbus 15 times before.
He said Daniel also caught the bus to school.
Mr Morcombe said his son wouldn’t initiate conversations with strangers.
“He was a very shy boy,’’ he said.
He said Daniel was not the type of boy who would get into cars with strangers.
“I don’t believe so,’’ he said.
3pm: The first witness testifying at the murder trial of Brett Peter Cowan is Daniel Morcombe’s father, Bruce Morcombe.
Mr Morcombe said he lived with his wife Denise and three sons on a five acre property on Woombye Palmwoods Rd at Palmwoods.
He said the boys were fruit-picking on a neighbour’s property while he and his wife went to a Christmas party for franchisees of their Jim’s Trees business on December 7, 2003.
Mr Morcombe said he returned home at 3.40pm.
He said one of his sons told him Daniel had gone to Sunshine Plaza at Maroochydore.
Mr Morcombe said it was the usual practise for Daniel to catch the last bus home at 5pm.
He said the boys always caught the bus from the stop under the Kiel Mountain overpass on Nambour-Connection Rd, about 1.3km away from their home.
He said they drove to look for Daniel that afternoon but could not find him.
He said they phoned the Sunbus company to no avail.
Mr Morcombe said he told police at Maroochydore his son was missing at 7.30pm.
Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne QC asked: “Have you ever heard from Daniel since that day?’’
“Not in any way, shape or form, no,’’ Mr Morcombe said.
12.55pm: Barrister Angus Edwards said undercover police made it clear to Daniel Morcombe murder accused Brett Peter Cowan that he would be dropped from the gang because he was “too hot’’.
He said Cowan was about to take part in a $100,000 job with the gang.
Mr Edwards told the jury Cowan was unable to determine the exact location of where the bones were found off Kings Rd, adding that he was around 60m out.
He said the shoes were found in bush when Cowan told police he threw them in the creek.
Mr Edwards said there was a lot in the trial that was not in dispute, including where Daniel was abducted from and the discovery of shoes and clothing.
“The key issue in all of this is whether you think Mr Cowan was telling the truth when he confessed or whether he was not telling the truth, whether he was making it all up.
“That, ladies and gentlemen, I expect, will be the central issue in this trial.’’
Mr Edwards said it was possible there was another explanation.
“How did he know where the bones and clothes were unless he killed Daniel Morcombe?’’ he told the jury.
“Or is there some other explanation, that someone else abducted and killed Daniel Morcombe in a blue sedan and that Brett Cowan somehow came to know, in the eight years following the abduction, of the location?’’
The trial will resume at 2.30pm.
12.40pm: Barrister Angus Edwards turned the jury’s attention to Douglas Brian Jackway, who had only been out of jail for a month for allegedly raping a child, when he was due in a Sunshine Coast court on December 8, 2003.
He said Jackway never showed up on schedule at his sister’s house on December 7, 2003, instead showing up early on the Monday morning.
He said Jackway dyed his hair and changed his appearance in the days after Daniel disappeared.
“Listen to the evidence of how Jackway changed what his car looked like around the time of Daniel Morcombe’s disappearance,’’ he said.
“The car he was driving was a blue sedan.’’
He said he would invite the jury to find Cowan’s confession to police was “a false confession’’.
Mr Edwards said it was a matter for the jury to determine whether Cowan had a motive for making a “false confession’’.
12.35pm: Barrister Angus Edwards, for Brett Peter Cowan, began his opening statement with the words: “Who dunnit?’’
“There is no dispute that he confessed … but does that mean he did it?’’ he said.
He said Cowan was driving a white Pajero on the day Daniel Morcombe disappeared, when countless witnesses saw a blue-coloured sedan.
He said one witness claimed to see a boy being “man-handled’’ into the blue sedan.
“I’d ask you to pay particular attention to that body of evidence,’’ he said.
Mr Edwards said no one had come forward to explain the appearance of a blue car at the place where Daniel was last seen.
12.30pm: Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne QC said the Crown case substantially rested on the confessions Brett Peter Cowan made to Arnold, the crime boss, and Fitzy, an alleged associate, who were both undercover police officers.
He said the jury should be satisfied that the confession was made and it was truthful.
“Our case is there will be little doubt because it was recorded, you’ll be able to hear what was said,’’ Mr Byrne told the jury.
He said the clothing and skeletal remains were located where Cowan told the so-called crime gang they would be.
“Note not only what was said, and that includes the detail of what he says, … but also listen to the way he says things. Whilst you must accept the confessions are honest and reliable you are not obliged to find that absolutely every word of what he said is accurate or honest,’’ he said.
Mr Byrne said Cowan caused the death of Daniel Morcombe by putting his arm around the boy’s neck and “applying pressure’’ with a specific state of mind.
He said in the alternative, the Crown alleged Cowan had an unlawful purpose to indecently deal with Daniel when he applied pressure to the boy’s neck.
“Critically we say he did that to overcome resistance to achieve his unlawful purpose of indecently deal with Daniel,’’ Mr Byrne said.
12.20pm: Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne QC said police divers searched Coochin Creek and found some items of interest on August 18, 2011 and September 16, 2011.
He said police divers located an elastic band and attached material that appeared to be from a pair of underpants about 15m downstream from the bridge.
He said the word “Bonds’’ could be faintly made out.
Mr Byrne said a Pacific Brands manager from Bonds would testify to say the underwear was manufactured between mid-2000 and mid-2002.
He said police found a pair of dark shorts in 20cm of sand and mud, effectively against a log in the creek.
Mr Byrne said they also found a fabric belt with a rusted, metal buckle.
12.10pm: Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne QC said bones found in the bush site during the search for Daniel Morcombe’s body were found in the top 10cm of leaf, sand and vegetable material on forest floor, except for the right femur, or thigh bone.
He said the bones were “scattered’’ a little distance from the area where Cowan told police he left the body.
“We’re going to suggest the movement and scattering of bones is attributable to wild animals and indeed some of the bones showed some signs of markings,’’ Mr Byrne said.
He said exposure, the likelihood of animal predation and the acidity in the ground all attributed to the bones breaking down.
Mr Byrne said bones were found included vertebrae with no duplication.
“The findings are consistent with the remains being of the one human being, who was a juvenile, probably between 10 and 14 years of age at the time of death,’’ he said, according to one expert.
He said another expert told police the bones were probably from one human who was a juvenile.
Mr Byrne said some of the bones were compatible with DNA testing, with a sample from the left humerus indicating a “shared maternal ancestry’’ with Denise, Dean and Bradley Morcombe.
p>He said a partial DNA profile was taken from the humerus bone by an expert in New Zealand, which was matched to a toothbrush that once belonged to Daniel.
Mr Byrne said a comparison of the profiles found they matched.
11.35am: Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne QC said expert hydrologists, scientists, botanists, feral animal experts and geo-technicians to help them locate the remains.
“The Crown’s submission is the search was not only comprehensive, but successful,’’ he said.
He said police found a pair of shoes and 17 partial bones during the search.
Mr Byrne said the Globe shoes found were shown to the vice president of the Globe shoe company, Noel Forsyth, who was able to identify the size and make.
He said Denise Morcombe was able to find a shoe box that would have contained shoes of the same size, range and make at her home.
Mr Byrne said Mr Forsyth traced the distribution of the shoes in September, 2002 to a Main Beach surf store at Sunshine Plaza on the Sunshine Coast.
He said the shoes recovered in the bush site were examined by a podiatrist, who determined the “wear pattern’’ of the shoes matched others worn by Daniel.
“It is our case there can be no reasonable doubt the shoes found in the bush were indeed Daniel Morcombe’s,’’ Mr Byrne said.
11.25am: Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne QC said Cowan took the undercover police officers, who he believed were part of the crime gang in Western Australia, to Kings Rd at Beerwah on August 10, 2011, a “secluded spot’’.
He pointed out to the undercover officers where the building was that he took the boy into, by this time it had been removed and sold.
Mr Byrne said Cowan told Fitzy: “I had no intention of knocking him at all, I just wanted to have some fun with him.’’
“I thought he was going to run and rah rah, yeah, I grabbed him back into the house and choked him out,’’ Cowan allegedly told them.
The undercover policeman said: “It’s just that he wouldn’t play the ****ing game, hey?’
Cowan said: “Yeah.”
Mr Byrne said Cowan showed the undercover police officers the creek where he threw Daniel’s clothes.
He said the next day, the undercover police met with police in Queensland and showed them the area Cowan had pointed out.
He said Cowan and Fitzy met that day at Redcliffe for further discussions.
Mr Byrne said the crime gang returned to Kings Rd at Beerwah with Cowan, where he was arrested, on August 13, 2011
“A very comprehensive search was conducted, it was of a considerable area,’’ he said.
“It involved various techniques, including draining part of a lake near where the defendant said he put the body.’’
Mr Byrne said it included SES volunteers and feeling through sand and leaf matter, as well as manually excavating layers of sand and dirt to estimate the ground level in 2003.
11.15am: Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne QC said the jury would hear recordings of the conversations between Cowan and undercover police officers, who he believed were part of the crime gang,on August 4 and later on August 8, 2011.
He said Cowan went to Fitzy after seeing the so-called bent cop, Craig, on television in relation to a murder.
Mr Byrne said Cowan and Fitzy drove to Kalgoorlie the next day, on August 9, 2011.
He said Fitzy received a phone call from the crime gang’s “Big Boss’’, a man called Arnold, demanding to have a meeting with Cowan in Perth.
At the meeting, which was secretly recorded and filmed, Mr Byrne said Arnold told Cowan he expected loyalty and honesty from Cowan.
He said Arnold told Cowan he could sort out any problems for him in relation to the Daniel Morcome disappearance.
Mr Byrne said Arnold, the “big boss’’, said Cowan was “too hot’’.
He told Cowan if it couldn’t be sorted out, he would “drop him like a hot potato’’.
Mr Byrne said Arnold asked Cowan what he needed to fix.
“You will see the defendant tell Arnold yeah, okay, yeah… I did it,’’ Mr Byrne said.
He said Cowan told Arnold he saw the broken down bus, saw the boy on the side of the road, parked in the church car park, walked up near the boy and “made it look as if he was waiting for the bus’’.
Cowan told Arnold he asked Daniel if he wanted a lift and “he agreed’’.
“He took him to a ‘secluded spot’,’’ Mr Byrne said.
He said Cowan told Arnold he knew the area near Coochin Ck at Beerwah.
“I never got to molest him or anything like that, he panicked and I panicked and I grabbed him around the throat and before I knew it, he was dead,’’ Cowan allegedly told Arnold.
Cowan told Arnold he strangled the boy using his arm.
“Yeah, like sort of, when he started to struggle like, I was starting to pull his pants down… and he said ‘oh no’ and he started to struggle,’’ Cowan said.
“I was standing … squatting and yeah, I grabbed him.’’
Mr Byrne said the passage was relevant to the count of murder and the count of indecent treatment levelled at Cowan.
Cowan told Arnold he put the body, fully clothed, in the back of his car, and drove it 150m away.
He told Arnold he dragged the body down an embankment, stripped the clothes off him and covered him in branches.
Cowan told Arnold he threw the clothes the boy was wearing into a creek.
He said he went to his drug dealer’s hosue afterwards and bought some cannabis.
Cowan told Arnold he went back a week later and claimed there was nothing left.
Mr Byrne said Cowan told Arnold he thought he saw a piece of skull but little else.
He said Cowan went for lunch with Fitzy after the meeting with the “big boss’’ and told him about the conversation they had.
Mr Byrne said it was significant he told Fitzy: “Yeah, he tried to get away, I knew if he got away I was f***ed, panicked…’’
Mr Byrne said Cowan was taken back to see Arnold after lunch, when arrangement were made for him to travel back to Brisbane with Fitzy and another gang member the next day.
Mr Byrne said on August 10, 2011, the three flew to Brisbane and drove to the Sunshine Coast.
He said Cowan showed them where he lived and where his drug dealer, Sandra Drummond, lived nearby.
Mr Byrne said Cowan showed Fitzy and the other man the route he had driven on the day Daniel Morcombe went missing.
He said Ms Drummond would give evidence during the trial that she could not remember Cowan’s visit that day, instead she was likely visiting the Beerwah RSL.
Mr Byrne said police investigation had determined Ms Drummond and her partner, Kevin Fitzgerald, were using gaming cards at the Beerwah RSL on the day.
He said they were removed from the machines at 2.20pm and 2.22pm respectively.
“The Crown case is there was still enough time for the defendant to have killed and abducted Daniel Morcombe that day, and called into Sandra Drummond’s house on the way home,’’ Mr Byrne said.
11.10am: Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne QC said the defendant Peter Brett Cowan was introduced to a corrupt policeman called Craig on August 4, 2011.
He said Craig told the crime gang he became aware another subpoena had been issued for Cowan to return to Brisbane for a court case.
Mr Byrne said Cowan had not informed the gang of his alleged involvement in the disappearance of Daniel Morcombe and they questioned him about it.
He said Cowan was told by gang companion “Fitzy’’, also an undercover police officer, the gang was powerful and there was “nothing they couldn’t fix’’.
11.05am: Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne QC said after testifying at an inquest into Daniel Morcombe’s disappearance on April 1, 2011, Cowan got on a plane to Perth.
He said Brett Peter Cowan met a person on the plane named Joe, who was, although he didn’t know it, an undercover police officer.
He said what followed was a highly-sophisticated, elaborate undercover police operation that resulted in Cowan confessing to killing Daniel and then showing police where he left the body.
Mr Byrne said the place Cowan showed them was where Daniel’s skeletal remains were found.
He said Cowan and Joe “struck up a friendship on the plane’’.
He said Cowan was introduced into an organised gang, and lived by the gang’s mantras: loyalty, respect and honesty.
Mr Byrne said Cowan was slowly introduced to other members of the crime gang by way of 24 scenarios in order to earn the trust of the “Big Boss’’.
“He was willingly taking part in that which was asked of him,’’ he said.
“It is our case he wanted to join the gang,’’ Mr Byrne said.
“It is our case he wanted to share in the financial spoils he believed was coming his way.’’
He said he was lead to believe the gang had access to crooked police in Western Australia.
11am: Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne QC said that at the time of Daniel’s disappearance, Cowan lived at Alps Pinch Rd, Beerwah, with his wife and child, about 34km from the Kiel Mountain Overpass.
He said Cowan went to collect a garden mulcher from Frank Davis, about 41km away, in a white Pajero.
On the way home along the Nambour Connection Rd, he later told police during an interview he saw a broken-down bus.
He said Cowan told police during the interview in July, 2005 that he drove straight home.
10.55am: Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne QC said another man called Douglas Jackway was to be called and cross-examined.
He said it was the Crown case Cowan “probably acted alone, we have no reason to suggest otherwise’’.
“Our case is that Douglas Jackway was not responsible for the abduction and killing of Daniel Morcombe,’’ he said.
10.50am: Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne QC said Bruce and Denise Morcombe got home on the afternoon of Sunday, 7 December, 2003 and were told Daniel had gone shopping.
“He did not come home as per standard arrangements, that he was to be on the last bus,’’ he said.
“When he was late you’ll hear his parents drove around to find him, they couldn’t find him and police became involved.’’
Mr Byrne said a “a long-running, highly detailed police investigation’’.
Mr Byrne said it was important for the jury to notice the time a witness was at the overpass and the time in which they had to take notice.
He said it was important when assessing the witnesses’ reliability.
10.45am: Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne QC said a Sunbus driver, whose bus had broken down, passed a young male wearing a red t-shirt trying to flag him down while standing under the overpass.
He said the bus driver waved that a second bus was coming behind him but did not stop, as he had been instructed to drive express to Maroochydore.
Mr Byrne said the driver also noticed a man behind the boy under the overpass, aged in his late 20s to 30s, with dark hair.
Mr Byrne said that by the time a second bus arrived at the overpass, the boy in the red t-shirt was no longer there.
“Daniel Morcombe had left by whatever means had been employed from the overpass in the space of those few minutes,’’ Mr Byrne said.
He said the Crown case was that there had been no blue car involved in the alleged murder and abduction of Daniel.
10.40am: Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne QC said witnesses recalled seeing a boy who matched Daniel Morcombe’s description standing under the Kiel Mountain Rd overpass between 1pm and 2pm on the day he went missing.
He said Daniel was waiting for a bus and hoped to travel to a nearby shopping centre for a hair cut and Christmas presents.
He said Daniel was wearing a red Billabong t-shirt, dark Ripcurl shorts and Globe shoes.
10.30am: Daniel Morcombe would have died within an hour of his disappearance, a court has heard.
Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne QC this morning opened the prosecution case in the trial of Brett Peter Cowan, 44, who now also calls himself Shaddo N-Unyah Hunter.
Cowan has pleaded not guilty before Brisbane Supreme Court Justice Roslyn Atkinson to the Sunshine Coast teenager’s murder, indecent treatment and misconduct with a corpse.
Mr Byrne said Daniel was 13, soon to turn 14, when he went missing at 2.15pm on Sunday December 7, 2003.
“It was out of character for him, he wasn’t the sort of child who ran away and went missing,’’ he told the jury.
“The object of circumstances at the time spoke strongly of abduction.’’
Mr Byrne said the jury would come to understand in the course of the trial, “he was dead a short time later, almost certainly within an hour’’.
He said that eight years later, police found a series of 17 bones in August, 2011.
Mr Byrne said the bones were found because a month earlier, Cowan told some people he had killed Daniel and took them to where he left the body and a separate place where he left his clothing.
He said Cowan gave a “complete confession to undercover police’’.
indecently dealing with a child and interfering with his corpse at the Glass House Mountains on December 7, 2003.