COWAN WILL NOT TAKE THE STAND IN HIS OWN DEFENCE
11.50am: The man accused of murdering Sunshine Coast teenager Daniel Morcombe has elected not give or call evidence in his defence.
Brett Peter Cowan, 44, who later changed his name to Shaddo N-unyah Hunter, has pleaded not guilty in the Brisbane Supreme Court to murder, indecent treatment and misconduct with a corpse on December 7, 2003.
Justice Roslyn Atkinson asked Cowan to stand in the prisoner’s dock shortly before midday.
“Brett Peter Cowan, also known as Shaddo N-unyah Hunter, the prosecution having closed its case against you, I must ask you if you intend to adduce evidence in your defence,’’ she said.
“This means you may give evidence yourself, call witnesses or produce evidence.
“You may do all of these things or none of them.’’
Cowan, wearing a light grey suit, white shirt and tie, clasped his hands together in the dock.
Barrister Angus Edwards answered in his stead.
“I have instructions to answer on my client’s behalf, Your Honour,’’ he said.
“Mr Cowan will neither give evidence nor call evidence.’’
Justice Atkinson told the 12 jurors and three reserve jurors counsel would begin their closing addresses on Monday.
She said she would also address the jury before they retired to consider their verdict.
The trial, which is in its fourth week, will resume on Monday at 10am.
11am: The 116th witness in the trial is Detective Sen-Sgt Stephen Blanchfield, who said he was appointed the Operations Investigations Leader in the Daniel Morcombe case in March, 2011.
In questioning by Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne QC, Sen-Sgt Blanchfield said there had been a number of public appeals for information from people concerning Daniel’s disappearance since December 7, 2003.
He said many members of the public had come forward with information over the years.
He said a reward of $250,000 was offered for information by the State Government.
“That occurred in 2008, running for a six-month period, where, if it were to be claimed, it was to subsidised by a consortium of individuals,’’ he said.
Sen-Sgt Blanchfield said the additional amount offered as part of the reward was $750,000.
He said he was provided information by Western Australian police asking him to attend the sand-mining site off Kings Rd on August 13, 2011.
Sen-Sgt Blanchfield said three people arrived in a vehicle about 11am.
He said Cowan was one of the three people in the car when he spoke to him and informed him of his rights.
He said Cowan exercised his right not to speak.
He said Cowan was arrested at 11.15am and then transported to the offices of the Homicide Investigation Unit at Police HQ on Roma St.
“We permitted him to have a smoke in the car park before taking the lift up to the office,’’ he isad.
Sen-Sgt Blanchfield said he noticed Cowan take up an unusual stance, with one leg raised up as he leant against the exterior of the lift shaft.
He said Cowan’s height measurements were taken and he was 190cm tall.
The jury was shown a photoboard where the person labelled number 9 was identified by Sen-Sgt Blanchfield as Douglas Brian Jackway.
Mr Byrne told him some witnesses in the trial made reference to seeing a person standing beneath the overpass who looked like the individuals labelled number 2 and 3 on the photo board.
“Had inquiries been made as to the whereabouts of person in position number three on 7th of December, 2003?,’’ Mr Byrne asked.
“Records indicate he was in jail at that stage at the Wolston Correction Centre,’’ Sen-Sgt Blanchfield said.
Sen-Sgt Blanchfield said the individual in number 2 was living in the Townsville area at that time.
He said a vehicle was found at the Brisbane Transit Centre in March or April of 2004 that received a lot of media coverage.
He said the car’s owner was able to be identified.
“My understanding was the vehicle had been left by a female who had separated from her partner and travelled to Victoria, she had driven the vehicle to the transit centre, parked it, left it and went to Victoria, not informing her partner that she’d done so,’’ Sen-Sgt Blanchfield said.
He said there were no other reports of a child going missing from the Woombye area around December 7, 2003.
Sen-Sgt Blanchfield told the jury he had access to a satellite photography program called “Nearmaps’’.
He said it allowed access to specific areas with a time-stamp as to when it took place.
He said the program showed in a photograph the demountable building at the macadamia farm was still visible in an image date stamped July, 2010.
It was gone in a second image dated May, 2011, he said.
In cross-examination by Angus Edwards, for Cowan, Sen-Sgt Blanchfield agreed it would not be possible to conduct a scenario-based investigation with Douglas Brian Jackway because he was in custody at the time.
He agreed he took part in an interview with Jackway on May 27, 2009.
Mr Edwards said Jackway was asked about his movements on December 7, 2003, even taking police to the place where his car broke down on the Nambour Connection Rd on his way to a court hearing in Maroochydore the day after Daniel Morcombe went missing.
“The area he took us to was on the Nambour Connection Rd almost opposite the Big Pineapple,’’ Sen-Sgt Blanchfield said.
Mr Edwards said Sen-Sgt Blanchfield told Jackway about the statements from Michael Harbon and another person who claimed to have been threatened by Jackway in order to secure an alibi.
Sen-Sgt Blanchfield said secret surveillance photographs of Jackway, Paul Carrington and Michael Harbon were taken in January, 2004.
He agreed Paul Carrington’s hair appeared to be long and brown and pulled back into a pony tail.
Sen-Sgt Blanchfield said police conducted timings from the Kiel Mountain Rd overpass to Jackway’s home at Bertha St in Goodna and found it would have taken an hour and 24 minutes to drive between the locations at the speed limit.
He agreed Cowan was questioned at the inquest because he was a person of interest in relation to the investigation.
He agreed the questioning dealt with, in parts, Cowan’s alibi for the afternoon of December 7, 2003.
Sen-Sgt Blanchfield said Cowan’s phone was seized when he was arrested and he told police he did not want to answer questions until he received legal advice.
He agreed that legal advisor told police Cowan would not be taking part in an interview.
He agreed Cowan was allowed to use a police phone to make a phone call to a woman.
He agreed Cowan told the woman he had been arrested in relation to the Daniel Morcombe investigation.
Sen-Sgt Blanchfield said a man he was able to later identify as Les McLean made several calls to Cowan’s mobile phone as they were driving to Brisbane from the Kings Rd crime scene.
“Our understanding of the amount of money Daniel had on him comes from, I believe they were paid for fruit picking that morning, possibly $90 to $100,’’ Sen-Sgt Blanchfield said.
He agreed a lot of information was put out into the public arena regarding the Daniel Morcombe investigation, including that he was catching the bus to get a haircut, may have had a fob watch and surf wallet on him and more.
Mr Edwards asked whether, apart from the location of the bones and the clothes, much of the information provided to police by Cowan was already in the public arena.
“As far as I am aware that would be right,’’ Sen-Sgt Blanchfield said.
He agreed men known as Ray Davey and Kneebone made false confessions and admissions to the crime.
Sen-Sgt Blanchfield agreed the Pinkenba boat ramp was searched by police divers for the remains of Daniel Morcombe as a result of admissions made by Kneebone.
He agreed an area of bushland at Beerwah was searched by cadaver dogs and SES volunteers for remains as a result of information given to police by Davey.
Sen-Sgt Blanchfield said nothing was found.
He agreed further information came forward in 2006 regarding the location of Daniel Morcombe’s body but it instead related to the location of a different homicide victim, Donald Rogers, whose body was found near Beerburrum.
He agreed that information also contended Daniel Morcombe’s body lay on the other side of the Bruce Highway, further towards the north and a creek that ran into Pumicestone Passage.
The jury was shown a map of the area.
He agreed there were no other reports of abductions from the Woombye area on December 7, 2003.
In re-examination by Mr Byrne, Sen-Sgt Blanchfield agreed the subpoena mentioned on August 4, 2011 had not yet been served but had been issued by the Coroner in Queensland.
He said Cowan was given access to a police telephone at the Kings Rd crime scene and told a woman on the other end of the line he had been arrested in relation to the Daniel Morcombe investigation.
“He talked about contacting his parents,’’ Sen-Sgt Blanchfield said.
He said a man named Edward Kneebone was charged with perjury for making a false confession.
“Mr Kneebone was charged with perjury as a result of evidence he gave at the coronial inquest and pleaded guilty to that charge,’’ he said.
Sen-Sgt Blanchfield agreed the body of Donald Rogers was found on the left-hand side of the Bruce Highway.
He said Daniel Morcombe’s body was also found to the left of the highway.
Both counsel tendered admissions in the case of matters that could be accepted beyond reasonable doubt.
The Crown closed its case.
10am: The 114th witness in the trial, an undercover police officer from Western Australia known as Paul “Fitzy’’ Fitzsimmons, told the jury he picked Cowan up from a motel on August 13, 2011 to head back up to the alleged crime scene off Kings Rd.
He said Cowan was told they had been working “to clear up this problem’’ but they still needed to find a fob watch that Daniel had with him on the day.
Fitzy said they arrived at Kings Rd in a Toyota Hilux just after 11am.
He said Queensland police were waiting for them and arrested all three men; Cowan, Fitzy and Ian.
Crown prosecutor Glen Cash: “It was a pretence because of your purported role in a criminal organisation?’’
In cross-examination by barrister Angus Edwards, for Cowan, Fitzy agreed one of the impediments to Cowan becoming a fully-fledged member of the crime gang was a rumoured subpoena to attend and testify at another coronial inquiry investigating Daniel’s death.
He agreed Cowan was led to believe the so-called “big job’’ would net him about $100,000.
But he acknowledged there could have been further big jobs, perhaps several a year.
Fitzy agreed Cowan had conversations with him about his alibi but didn’t mention Daniel Morcombe until the second meeting with an allegedly corrupt police officer known as Craig.
He said he did not know whether an actual subpoena was ever served on Cowan.
Fitzy disagreed the subject of Daniel Morcombe was introduced in the crime gang scenario in order to apply “pressure’’ to Cowan.
“I wouldn’t say pressure, it was to bring the Daniel Morcombe homicide, or missing person case, into our scenario,’’ he said.