Day 8 of Daniel Morcombe Murder trial

Cowan has pleaded not guilty before Justice Roslyn Atkinson to murder, indecent treatment and misconduct with a corpse.

Brett Peter Cowan is accused of murdering schoolboy Daniel Morcombe in 2003.

Brett Peter Cowan is accused of murdering schoolboy Daniel Morcombe in 2003.

The lawyers defending Brett Peter Cowan, Tim Meehan and Angus Edwards.

The lawyers defending Brett Peter Cowan, Tim Meehan and Angus Edwards.

3.20pm: The 95th witness in the trial is Leticha Harvey, who met Brett Peter Cowan in a share house at Durack when she was 18-years-old in 2008.

“About two months after he moved in, we formed a relationship,” she said.

She said they lived together at a caravan park in Bribie Island in 2009.

She said they had a child in December of that year.

Ms Harvey said Cowan had a red “rocky” or four-wheel-drive and would often go driving.

She said Cowan had taken her to the area off Roys Road on the Sunshine Coast.

“He drove through a background through forestry to a small macadamia farm where there were two demountable buildings,” Ms Harvey said.

“And it seemed very away from everywhere, secluded.”

She said they stopped there at night time.

“There was two demountables (sic), the tree was in the middle,” she said.

“It looked like a really old building that someone had just moved there and left and no one had been there.

“Very broken apart, dusty, there was old car parts shelves, bits and pieces, people had just dumped stuff there,” she said.

She said the second demountable had a log on the ground in front of it but also had a bathroom with a broken toilet, broken headlights from cars, buckets and rusty bolts covered in dust.

“There was storage sheds near where the buildings were, on the right side of the buildings, they had machinery but they were very overgrown with vines,” she said.

She said some of the doors were padlocked closed but others had “big cages” inside them.

Ms Harvey said Cowan was with her but would occasionally walk away and do “I don’t know what”.

She said she’d been back to the area once, accompanied by two police officers, on August 19, 2011.

In cross-examination by barrister Angus Edwards, for Cowan, Ms Harvey agreed Cowan moved to Western Australia in April, 2010.

In re-examination by Crown prosecutor Glen Cash, she agreed the place Cowan took her to had changed when she returned with police.

“The buildings were no longer there but the grass looked like it had been slashed,” she said.

2.55pm: The 94th witness is Tracey Lee Moncrieff, who married Brett Peter Cowan in September, 1999.

She said they separated in June, 2004 and the divorce was finalised in 2008.

Ms Moncrieff said she met Cowan at his aunt and uncle’s place, the Philbrooks, in 1998.

She said they were pastors at the Christian Outreach Centre at Woombye, which she visited each week on Sundays.

Ms Moncrieff confirmed it was the church near to the Kiel Mountain Rd overpass at Woombye.

She said they were engaged and later married after meeting at the church.

“I moved down to Beerwah, (on) Alfs Pinch Rd,” she said.

She said they had two children, a son Peter who was 11 and a son Stephen, 9.

Ms Moncrieff said Cowan was a sand-blaster, welder, and took cash-in-hand jobs.

She said he worked for Trevor Davis, who owned Suncoast Sand-Blasting.

“We only had one car, which is the Mitsubishi Pajero, white,” she said of the family car.

Ms Moncrieff said she went to the 9.30am church service at Woombye with Peter, then six-months, on the morning of December 7, 2003.

She said Cowan did not go and was not in the habit of going to church at that time.

She said she got home about 11.30am and it took roughly 30 to 40 minutes to drive home.

“I settled my son and then I made some lunch for both of us and we ate lunch,” she said.

“He wanted to go and get equipment from Trevor Davis’ father up at Nambour.”

Ms Moncrieff said Cowan left the house about 1pm.

She said she saw Cowan again in the later afternoon when she heard the mulcher running outside about 2.40pm or 3pm.

“I wouldn’t know what time,” she said.

She said Cowan stayed outside.

“There was branches cut down outside, so I assumed it was gardening,” she said.

Ms Moncrieff said Cowan had friends on the main road at Beerwah but she “didn’t like the place”.

She said Cowan would go “a few months” between haircuts, usually after it had reached his shoulders.

“I assume it was shaved in December or close to that when he was growing it again,” she said.

“He had a goatee at that stage, just a thin goatee.”

Ms Moncrieff said Cowan didn’t like long hair if he was welding or sand-blasting.

She said he had two silver earrings, one hoop and one stud, on the left and tattoos on both his arms.

Ms Moncrieff said Cowan had a scar on one of his knees from a childhood injury, about “6cm or 7cm”.

She said Cowan would wear a dark singlet and shorts or thongs or would go barefoot.

The jury was shown a photo of Cowan with his three or four-month-old son Peter sitting on his shoulders, roughly in September or October, 2003.

In it, Cowan was smiling widely as the babe sat on his shoulders.

The jury saw a second photo of Cowan in November, 2003 holding Peter across his arms, and wearing a singlet.

Finally, it saw a family photo of Cowan with Ms Moncrieff and his son taken at Redlands Bay on December 26, 2003.

She said Cowan had a habit of standing on one leg “like a stork”, with the other foot resting on his knee.

“If he’s leaning on something he always seemed to have one leg up,” she said.

In cross-examination by barrister Angus Edwards, for Cowan, Ms Moncrieff agreed two police officers came and spoke with her to ask what sort of clothing her husband had worn on December 7, 2003.

She agreed in an earlier statement she told police Cowan wore a singlet, board shorts and thongs.

“He usually wears that, so I assume that’s what he wore,” she said.

She agreed Cowan would generally grow his hair out long in the winter months when it was colder and shave it short in summer.

“He grew his goatee whenever he wanted to grow his goatee,” she said.

She agreed she gave a statement to police on August 13, 2011, in which she said Cowan would shave his beard off in summer.

12.55pm: The 93rd witness is Kenneth King, who was a plain clothes Constable in December, 2003 when he was tasked to investigate the disappearance of Sunshine Coast teenager Daniel Morcombe.

He said he was asked to conduct an investigation into Brett Peter Cowan by visiting his home in Beerwah with another police officer on December 21, 2003.

He said an electronic recording of the conversation between them had gone missing.

Mr King said he made hand-written notes of the conversation.

He said he asked Cowan whether he left home that day.

“He stated that he’d gone at about 1.30pm to go and pick up a mulcher and he described the route that he’d travelled via the Nambour-Connection Rd, he identified his white 4WD,” Mr King said.

“That was registration 552GLT.”

Mr King said Cowan told them he’d travelled alone to an address in Nambour to get the mulcher.

“That was a specific point that we needed to put to him, whether he’d gone past that location and he said he had,” he said of the Kiel Mountain Rd overpass.

“He claimed not to have seen any people or vehicles.”

Mr King said Cowan told them he left at 1.30pm and arrived home at 2.30pm or 2.45pm.

He said Cowan told them he arrived at Nambour at 2pm.

“He indicated that he’d travelled directly home,” Mr King said.

The jury was shown photographs of Cowan taken on that day, showing Cowan freshly shaved with short, dark hair.

It was also shown photos of Cowan’s tattoos: a skull with a smoking gun on his left upper-arm; and a smoking skull wearing a top-hat atop a scroll with writing on it on his right upper-arm.

Mr King said he returned to Cowan’s home on December 22, 2003.

He said he measured the distances from Alps Pinch Rd to Kiel Mountain Rd overpass as 34km and roughly 23 minutes in duration.

He said he continued to the Nambour address where Cowan got the mulcher from and timed the journey as taking 30 minutes and to be a distance of 41km.

In cross-examination by barrister Angus Edwards, for Cowan, Mr King agreed Cowan’s wife told him he was wearing a dark-coloured singlet, dark-coloured board shorts and thongs on December 7, 2003.

He said a DNA sample was also taken from Cowan.

Mr King said Cowan also consented to having his car, a white Pajero, and the tyre tread photographed.

12.25pm:  The 92nd witness is Peter Murchie, who was 15 when he took a bus to Maroochydore with friends on Sunday, December 7, 2003.

He said he arrived on the train in Nambour around 12.30pm or 12.15pm when he caught a Sunbus in order to continue his journey.

“It broke down at the Woombye turn-off,’’ he said.

Mr Murchie said he waited around half an hour for another bus.

He said he got on a second bus and sat on the left-hand side of the back of the bus when it continued its journey and passed under the Kiel Mountain Rd overpass

“I seen a little 10-year-old boy standing on the side of the road under the overpass, in the shaded area, there was another person to the left of him, about 8m away in the shade,’’ he said.

Mr Murchie said the boy on the side of the road put his arm out in front of him in an attempt to flag the bus down.

“He took a step forward and tried waving the bus down to stop,’’ he said.

Mr Murchie said the other person appeared to be aged in his mid-30s or 40s.

“He was sort of scruffy and a bit of a beard,’’ he said.

“I didn’t really pay much attention to what he was wearing or anything, we just drove past. I think I recall seeing a suitcase or some sort of bag beside him on the ground.’’

Mr Murchie said he saw no cars nearby and the bus didn’t stop.

“We did slow down a bit but we didn’t stop,’’ he said.

He said he heard no passengers ask the driver to stop.

In cross-examination by barrister Angus Edwards, Mr Murchie said he could only remember one other bus arriving at the Woombye breakdown.

He said the man he saw had a full beard but only a little bit of growth.

12.15pm: The 91st witness is Sandra Drummond, who said she lived with Kevin Fitzgerald on Peachester Rd at Beerwah in December, 2003.

She said she knew Brett Peter Cowan, who lived nearby on Alfs Pinch Rd.

Ms Drummond said she was a member of the Beerwah RSL with Mr Fitzgerald and had a membership rewards car that accumulated points for prizes when inserted into the poker machines.

She said she travelled to the RSL by car or bike and it took roughly 5 minutes.

Ms Drummond said she went to the RSL on Thursday nights and Sundays from lunchtime until the afternoon.

“My daughter worked there and she did the Crazy Kerry raffles,’’ she said.

Ms Drummond said she would use her membership card on the machines.

She said she couldn’t be sure she was at the RSL on Sunday, December, 2003.

“I don’t know for sure,’’ she said.

She said she had known Cowan for around two years by that time.

“Just a friend,’’ she said.

“He got some marijuana from me occasionally. Not sure how often, it wasn’t a lot.’’

Ms Drummond said Cowan would buy between $25 and $50 worth of marijuana at a time, “usually about 2g’’ worth.

She said she did not know if Cowan had bought marijuana from her on December 7, 2003.

“I don’t recall,’’ she said.

In cross-examination by barrister Angus Edwards, for Cowan, she said the accused would often drop in at her place “on his way home’’ at least once a week, sometimes more often.

“He did quite often help,’’ she said.

Ms Drummond said she did not remember Cowan dropping by with a mulcher.

“I do remember he was doing mulching at his house one weekend but as for seeing a mulcher, I didn’t see one,’’ she said.

Ms Drummond said usually always stayed at the Beerwah RSL until at least 1pm in the afternoon, for the member’s draw and raffles.

She said sometimes she stayed back playing the poker machines, other days she went home straight away and occasionally waited for her daughter to knock-off and drop her home.

Ms Drummond said it wasn’t unusual for Cowan to pop into her house on a Sunday or “anytime’’.

12pm: The 90th witness is Troy Walters who in 2006 worked at a café on Russell Island when he met Brett Peter Cowan through another man, who was a customer.

He said they bonded over a “car swap’’.

Mr Walters said he had a Mitsubishi Berada that he wanted to swap for a newer model.

He said Cowan had a white 1990 model Mitsubishi Pajero.

“I just knew it was a newer model than what I had,’’ he said.

“He was to bring it over and if I liked the look of it, it was just a straight swap.’’

Mr Walters said he met Cowan at the ferry terminal on Russell Island a few weeks later and swapped cars.

He said he got rid of the Pajero after about a year, again by swapping it.

“I swapped it for a newer model again for another gentleman on the island,’’ he said.

In cross-examination by barrister Angus Edwards, for Cowan, Mr Walters said he met Cowan through another man called Les.

11.55am: The 89th witness is former police officer Malcolm Williams, who worked for 23 years as a fingerprint expert.

He said he spent two days at the Morcombe family’s home to build a database of fingerprints and reference samples for Daniel Morcombe.

Mr Williams said he obtained more than 140 fingerprints.

He said he compared fingerprints detected in a Mitsubishi Pajero with registration 552GLT with reference prints for Daniel on December 24, 2003.

Mr Williams said there were no matches.

He told the jury he also looked for prints on a Holden Commodore with registration plate 996HKL but again, found no matches.

11.25am: The 88th witness is Detective Sgt Gavin Pascoe, who works with State Crime Command, and was working the investigation into Daniel Morcombe’s disappearance in 2011.

He said he received a call in relation to the case on August 10, 2011.

“We did a time trial, for want of a better term,” he said.

Sgt Pascoe said he started under the Kiel Mountain Rd overpass and walked to the car park of the nearby Christian Outreach Centre.

“At that time, we walked along the grass verge beside the road and just down an embankment … down to the car park,” he said.

“From that point we got into the vehicle and drove out of the car park up onto the road and took the onramp from Kiel Mountain Rd there onto Nambour-Connection Rd and proceeded easterly, or towards Nambour,” he said.

He said he had a stopwatch on to track the time the journey took.

Sgt Pascoe said he took the Landsborough Caloundra turn-off and travelled onto Steve Irwin Way to Roys Rd and eventually Kings Rd at the Glass House Mountains.

He said from there he travelled to Sandra Drummond’s house on Peachester Rd and Cowan’s home at Alfs Pinch Rd, both in Beerwah.

Sgt Pascoe said the speed limit on Nambour-Connection Rd had changed between 2003 and 2011, when he timed the distances.

He said it took 12 minutes and two seconds to get to Peachester Rd from the crime scene on Kings Rd.

Sgt Pascoe said he timed an alternate route from the Kiel Mountain Rd overpass to Kings Rd, via the Bruce Highway.

11am: The 87th witness is Toni Lea Lutherborrow, who was driving home from a barbecue sometime between 2pm and 2.30pm on December 7, 2003.

In cross-examination by barrister Angus Edwards, for Cowan, she said she was driving home to Caboolture via Eudlo Rd at Palmwoods when she passed a white ute that was driving erratically and then passed a blue-grey car.

“I actually seen (sic) like a white sheet that moved up,” she said.

“It’s not on the backseat, it’s like, where your feet go on the rear of the blue car. The reason why I seen (sic) it was because it rose up.”

Ms Lutherborrow said there were two males in the front seat.

She said one of the men reached around and “punched” the white sheet down.

Ms Lutherborrow then broke into tears and held her hands to her face.

“There was one that had longer hair and that was a bit of a pony tail, I think that was the passenger and the driver had the curly black hair,’’ she said.

Justice Roslyn Atkinson cautioned Ms Lutherborrow not to say anything if she didn’t know the answer.

But Ms Lutherborrow continued, adding that she thought the passenger had longer hair running down to his chest.

The jury was shown a map which showed Eudlo Rd ran down in the direction of Beerwah.

The court was also shown a sketch of the description given by Ms Lutherborrow.

She agreed the person she saw was also wearing a blue and black chequered flannelette shirt.

She agreed she came forward to police on May 23, 2004.

In re-examination by Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne QC, Ms Lutherborrow said she was driving a Ford Fairlane sedan.

She said Eudlo Rd was a two-lane road.

10.30am: The 85th witness is Wayne Baker who lived at Nambour in December, 2003.

In cross-examination by barrister Angus Edwards, for Cowan, Mr Baker said he drove under the Kiel Mountain Rd underpass sometime after lunch on December 7, 2003.

“I was heading in to Nambour,’’ he said.

Mr Baker said he saw a child on the Maroochydore-bound side of the road, aged between 12 and 13.

He said he also saw a blue car parked on the roadside on the Nambour-bound side of the overpass, near to the back fence of the caravan sale yard opposite the Christian Outreach Centre.

“Square tail light and a square blinker,’’ he said.

Mr Baker said he thought the registration plates were from interstate.

He agreed he saw two men near to the car, one with dark shoulder-length hair and the other with short hair and of a medium-build.

Mr Baker said the man appeared to be wearing a dark T-shirt and jeans but he couldn’t tell if he had tattoos.

“I’m not too sure about that, because I was travelling at speed.’’

He was shown a sketch drawn by a police artist based on the testimony of another witness and said it looked like the second man he saw near to the blue car.

The jury was shown a photocopied drawing of a car similar to the one Mr Baker said he saw.

He added it was similar to a car police found abandoned that was on the news some weeks after Daniel Morcombe’s disappearance.

In re-examination by Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne QC, Mr Baker pointed out where the car he’d seen was on the Nambour-Connection Rd, just after the Kiel Mountain Rd overpass.

“The gentleman standing next to the car had longer hair and the gentleman under the overpass, virtually standing near Daniel, had shorter hair,’’ he said.

“It was as short as mine, maybe a little bit longer, as I said I was driving…’’

Photos of Brett Peter Cowan were tendered as evidence today.

Photos of Brett Peter Cowan were tendered as evidence today.

2 thoughts on “Day 8 of Daniel Morcombe Murder trial

  1. Many thanks for the effort that’s gone into these posts but this one is missing today’s testimony from Kim Guthrie and Kim North. They both say that they saw someone grabbing Daniel & pulling him into a blue vehicle.


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