Day 5 of Daniel Morcombe Murder trial

IT IS day five of the trial of Brett Peter Cowan, 44, who stands accused of the murder of Sunshine Coast teenager Daniel Morcombe.

3.15pm: The trial has finished for the day and will continue from 10am Tuesday.

3.10pm: The 46th witness is Fiona Crystal Theuerkauf, who was a 17-year-old who lived at Palmwoods on the Sunshine Coast on December 7, 2003.

She said she travelled with her brother Terry, his then girlfriend Abby North and another mate called Peter Murchie to Sunshine Plaza via bus.

Ms Theuerkauf said she remembered the bus breaking down around 2pm.

“We had to wait for the other bus to come through,’’ she said.

She said another bus arrived and they got on it and continued to travel towards Maroochydore.

“I saw a little boy in a red shirt,’’ she said.

“He was standing on the side of the road waiting for the bus.’’

She said the boy was waving a stick around and then waved towards the bus.

Ms Theuerkauf said the bus driver motioned with his thumb pointed behind him that another bus was on its way.

“I had seen a male stand some distance behind him,’’ she said.

“I know it was a fair, he was out further, the boy was standing out the front, he was against the wall, behind some trees and things.’’

Police have told how they ambushed the alleged killer of Daniel Morcombe where a body was later found.

She said she vaguely remembered what the man looked like.

“I know he had long hair, he had a goatee, sort of indented cheeks, he was wearing faded blue jeans, maybe a shirt, singlet, he had a tattoo on one arm,’’ she said.

“He had a bag on the ground next to him, as well.’’

Ms Theuerkauf said the man had dark sunglasses on.

“He was sort of back, leg lifted so it was bent, and his arm straight down by his side,’’ she said.

She told the jury she gave a description of the man she saw to police for the purposes of a comfit sketch to be done on December 11, 2003.

Ms Theuerkauf was also asked to identify the man on a police photo board, nominating the person in figure three as someone with “features similar to the person’’, on June 5, 2009.

In cross-examination by Angus Edwards, for Cowan, she reiterated the man she saw was wearing faded blue jeans.

She said the tattoo the man she saw had was a “black one’’ and she couldn’t recall any other colours.

Ms Theuerkauf said the man had a rectangular sports bag at his feet.

2.55pm: The 45th witness is Abby Lee North, who was 13 when she caught a bus from Nambour to Sunshine Plaza on Sunday, December 7, 2003.

She said she was with her ex-boyfriend and two friends when the bus broke down at the Woombye turn-off from the Nambour Connection Rd.

Ms North said another bus came, eventually: “Oh, it was ages, it could have been an hour, longer, but I couldn’t be sure, it was so long ago.’’

She said another bus came and the four of them got on it.

Ms North said she sat at the back of the second bus when she saw something under the Kiel Mountain Rd Overpass.

“I saw a little boy and a man up against the wall,’’ she said.

“Red shirt, dark hair, he was playing with a stick.’’

She said the boy was her age, maybe younger.

“I just remember him playing with a stick,’’ she said.

Ms North said the driver of the bus gave a hand gesture “of some sort’’ as they passed.

She said a man was standing behind the boy a few metres, leaning against a dirt wall.

“All I can remember is just a gaunt face and really prominent eyebrows,’’ she said.

“He just was leaning with sort of one leg up, as if he was leaning back, because it’s on a slope.’’

Ms North said she couldn’t remember seeing any interaction between the boy and the man.

She said she did not see any cars parked nearby.

Ms North said she provided a description of the man to police for the purposes of a sketch to be drawn on December 11, 2003.

She said the likeness to the man she saw was not perfect.

“Now, no, but I remember being happy with it at the time,’’ she said.

Ms North said she was later asked by police to identify the man she saw on police photo boards.

“Photos No.2 and 3 are sticking out to me because of facial features but other than that I can’t say any of the faces are familiar,’’ she signed on the back of the photo board she was shown on June 6, 2009.

The jury was shown a second photo board from March 31, 2011.

Ms North said she was unable to positively identify anyone on the photo board.

In cross-examination by barrister Angus Edwards, for Cowan, Ms North said the bus driver made a motion.

“I just remember a motion of some sort,’’ she said, while gesturing with her arm.

She agreed that in a statement to police on December 10. 2003, she said the bus driver gestured with his thumb towards the boy.

1pm: The 44th witness is Jessiah Daniel Cocks, who was 17-year-old student was living at Mapleton on the Sunshine Coast in 2003.

He said he was at the McDonald’s restaurant drive-through close to Maroochydore about 1.35pm on December 7, 2003.

Mr Cocks said he and his mother drove along the Nambour Connection Rd and travelled under the Kiel Mountain Rd underpass about 10 minutes later.

“There was a boy in a red shirt under the overpass, he was on his haunches on the embankment, I’m not sure if he was climbing down the embankment or just sort of playing, sitting there,’’ he said.

He said the boy was sitting on the same side of the road as the church.

The jury was shown a stick figure drawn on a photograph, sitting just to the side of the overpass on a steep embankment that Mr Cocks sketched to represent what he saw that day.

“The red shirt stuck out in my memory, I saw that on the Sunday and I only remember it because of a conversation I had with my mother after it,’’ Mr Cocks said.

He said he didn’t see anyone else at the overpass but he saw a white 4WD parked 50m to 150m from the overpass in the direction of Nambour.

He said it was a 1990s model “or thereabouts’’ LandCruiser.

“It was facing the Maroochydore roundabout, so it was facing away from Nambour,’’ he said.

He said there was a Caravan World store across the Nambour Connection Road, directly opposite the church, near to Woombye Primary School.

“We kept driving,’’ he said.

Mr Cocks said he saw more than one blue Sunbus parked on a hill, near the intersection of Nambour Connection Rd and Blackall St, and had a discussion with his mum about the fact one of the buses was broken down.

He said the broken down bus was out of the line of sight from the Kiel Mountain Rd overpass.

In cross-examination by barrister Angus Edwards, Mr Cocks agreed he said the boy was climbing down the embankment next to the overpass when he gave a statement to police on December 19, 2003.

He agreed he told police the 4WD he saw parked opposite the Caravan World in 2003 “may’’ have had a black snorkel.

Mr Cocks agreed he told police he saw three Sunbuses parked near the Blackall St intersection.

The 42nd witness is former environmental officer Jessica Johnson.

She said she was called to Kings Rd at the Glass House Mountains to do water sampling on August 15, 2011.

Ms Johnson said the pH of the waterway near the former sand-mining site was 7.15, which was “within the range of neutral’’.

She said Coochin Creek had a pH level of 7.68.

The 43rd witness is Acting Sen-Sgt Melissa Bell, from the scientific section who worked on Operation Vista.

She said she examined carpet that was excavated from the macadamia farm off Kings Rd in August 2011.

“There was quite a lot of dirt from the carpets,’’ she said.

Sen-Sgt Bell said she was unable to find any evidence.

She said she examined tape-lifts that came from a white Mitsubishi Pajero with Queensland registration 552GLT in 2003 for evidence of hairs and fibres.

She said she found a number of hairs in the tape lifts but no DNA profiles were able to be developed.

“Some of the hairs were animal hairs,’’ she said.

12.30pm: The 41st witness is Chantel Hart, a former business manager for the Main Beach Surf Company retail outlet.

She said there was a shop at the Sunshine Plaza in Maroochydore from 1994 until the company ceased trading in 2012.

Ms Hart said she was shown a shoe box for a pair of Globe “Occy’’ size 8 shoes in a blue-grey colour.

She showed the jury that on the barcode tag on the shoe box was the date the goods had been received at her family’s Main Beach Surf shop.

She said the shoes would have been put in the store to be sold from that date, September 30, 2002.

12.15pm: The 40th witness is Adam Matthew Coey, a manager at Pacific Brands in Sydney, the company that owns the Bonds clothing label.

He said he was contacted by police in Queensland to identify a pair of children’s underpants.

Mr Coey said the underwear was a pair of “classics’’ children’s brief-style underpants in a size 12 to 14.

He said that based on unique coding, the blue underpants would have been manufactured after May 2000.

Mr Coey said he was also shown a decayed pair of “remnant’’ underpants.

He said he recognised the label to come from Bonds.

“It looks to be the same label,’’ he said.

The jury was shown a photo of the remnant underwear, where the fabric had worn away, leaving only an elastic waist band and leg holes in-tact.

Mr Coey said based on close inspection, the remnant underpants would have been in a blue colour used in the Bonds range called cobalt blue.

The 39th witness is former Sunshine Coast Regional Council hydrologist and now consultant flood specialist Michael Victor Erpf.

He said he was called by police to Kings Rd at the Glass House Mountains on an ongoing basis from August 15, 2011.

“The particular site of interest is adjacent to Coochin Creek and of course creeks carry flood flows that can interact with the environment or what is placed in the environment,’’ he said.

“It was about getting an appreciation of how the site had been impacted over a period of time.’’

Mr Erpf said Coochin Creek flooded through a break in the northern embankment at the former sand-mining site.

“It was really quite amazing how slow,’’ he said.

“Once the water starts to move into here, the flow velocities, even in a 100-year event were only 0.3m per second, which is very slow.’’

He said the movement was so slow that any sediment in the water would fall away.

Mr Erpf said it was possible for water to come over the high part of the embankment but it wouldn’t change the speed or velocity of the water flow through the area where the bones were found.

11.25am: The 38th witness is Mark Goullet, a pest animal controller with a business called Ferals Out.

He said he has experience observing wild animal populations on the Sunshine Coast.

Mr Goullet said he had experience detailing the movements of feral animals around Woombye in October 2011.

“I was contracted to remove dingoes and other wild dogs right there at the Big Pineapple and across the road at Woombye State School and at a pineapple plantation which is now a development site,’’ he said.

He said he had seen dingoes in the area around the Glass House Mountains and estimated the population to number in the hundreds in 2003.

“It didn’t really matter what time of the day you drove around a property on the Sunshine Coast … there were dingoes walking the streets,’’ he said.

Mr Goullet said wild dogs and dingoes would feed together on animal carcasses and were capable of removing limbs from animal carcasses.

He said pigs were also capable of carrying bones some distance.

“I’ve seen birds of prey picking up large bones, very large bones,’’ he said.

Mr Goullet said crows were also capable of moving bones from a carcass.

He said those animals were all still found in the Kings Rd area of the Glass House Mountains.

“There’s plenty of pigs and plenty of foxes, as there are dingoes, still there at the moment,’’ he said.

11.15am: The 37th witness is Lee Robert Allen, a zoologist with Biosecurity Queensland who specialises in tracking the movements of dingoes and wild dogs.

He told the jury a stable pack of wild dogs would cover an area of about 20sq km.

“In drought time they will chew on carcasses that can be a year or so old in some places,’’ he said.

He said he was called to Kings Rd at the Glass House Mountains in September 2011 to check wild dog movement in the area.

Dr Allen said he found tracks in a nearby creek bed.

“There were dog tracks along that creek bed, from the work we’ve done in radio tracking that’s not unexpected and they use those timbered creek beds as travel ways,’’ he said.

He said he would have expected to see foxes and feral pigs in the area off Kings Rd but found no tracks, although there was a disused fox den.

Dr Allen said wild dogs were capable of removing human remains.

“Wild dogs could smell a carcass or food like that probably half a kilometre or even further in a forest situation,’’ he said.

“Normally what you find is the carcass is pulled apart and limbs would be carted off in different directions.’’

He said the distances a carcass could be spread was between 10m and 50m.

Dr Allen said dingoes had the capacity to chew many of the bones normally found in a human body.

During cross-examination by barrister Angus Edwards, for Cowan, Dr Allen said he could not tell the difference between wild dog tracks and tracks left behind by a police dog.

In re-examination by Crown prosecutor Glen Cash, Dr Allen said it would be unlikely for wild dogs to move a whole carcass but it was possible.

“Usually what you see with a carcass that has been scattered by wild dogs is the main carcass stays together and limbs and bits and pieces get dragged off,’’ he said.

“Once a lot of the weight has decayed away they could drag a fair quantity, a fair weight.’’

The 36th witness is Brian James Ru ss, who bought a demountable building from the macadamia farm at Kings Rd in the Glass House Mountains and shifted it to his place at Landsborough.

“We completely gutted it and tiled the floor, replaced most of the wall cladding, the cupboards and re-plumbed it,’’ he said.

He said he moved the building in late 2005.

The 35th witness is botanist Ralph Mackenzie Dowling.

Mr Dowling said he visited the crime scene search area off Kings Rd at the Glass House Mountains on September 19 and October 10 and 11, 2011.

“The area was an area of pine regrowth with some swamp tree growing in it. The area was densely vegetated for the most part but there had been some areas where police had cut down some trees to allow them better access to the land,’’ he said.

He said there was a body of water to the east of the site, part of the ex-sand-mining site.

Mr Dowling said he was asked to examine the area for anything of interest and to look at an area described as “the pond’’.

He said he compared vegetation at the pond to vegetation elsewhere at the crime scene.

Mr Dowling said the trees in the lower area of the site, near the pond, would have been the same size in 2003.

“I was of the opinion that between those two dates the vegetation on the site was the same,’’ he said.

“I had tracked the growth of the vegetation on that sight from the earliest aerial photography that was available.’’

He said the trees on the site would have started growing in the early 1990s, probably 1992.

“I did see evidence of flooding events, a lot of sand had been moved to the site and to the immediate north of the site there was evidence of flooding where there had been substantial sand deposited,’’ he said.

Mr Dowling said the species of trees across the site were the same and arranged similarly.

In cross-examination by barrister Angus Edwards, for Cowan, Mr Dowling showed the jury an aerial photo taken in 1991 of the crime scene.

He compared it with an aerial photo of the same area taken in 2003 and another taken in 2008.

The jury was shown photos of the pond area and a comparison area elsewhere within the crime scene that Mr Dowling used as a reference point to compare plant species.

In re-examination, Crown prosecutor Glen Cash asked Mr Dowling what species of trees were shown in the pond area.

He showed the jury a photo taken by Mr Dowling where slash pines, tea trees, paperbark trees and Leptospermums were labelled near the pond, with a fallen tree in the foreground.

“The tree had recently been pushed over,’’ Mr Dowling said.

10.20am: The 34th witness in the trial is podiatrist Paul Bennett, who studies the science, motions and movements of the human foot.

He said he was asked to conduct a comparison analysis on three pairs of shoes by police in Queensland in August 2011.

“Effectively the kinds of comparisons you are looking for are consistencies in the way footwear might wear out,’’ he said.

He said he looked for wear patterns to form a picture of how an individual would move.

Dr Bennett said he examined a right Globe-brand skate shoe.

“Effectively using the Bata reference grid it would belong to a person roughly 12 to 15, possibly older,’’ he said.

He said he also examined a left Globe-brand skate shoe.

Dr Bennett said he was also provided with a pair of black school shoes and brown size 7 skate shoes as a reference point.

He said the wear patterns and an “asymmetrical finding’’ were consistent across all the shoes.

“There are locations with inside the footwear that correlate with the mechanism that has caused this particular set of wear patterns,’’ he said.

He said the shoes matched.

 Brisbane Supreme Court evidence photo of a shoe found in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, presented as evidence in the trial of Brett Peter Cowan for the alleged murder of Queensland schoolboy Daniel Morcombe.

Brisbane Supreme Court evidence photo of a shoe found in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, presented as evidence in the trial of Brett Peter Cowan for the alleged murder of Queensland schoolboy Daniel Morcombe.


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