A supplied image obtained Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. Accused murderer of Queensland schoolboy Daniel Morcombe, Brett Peter Cowan.
A supplied image obtained Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. Accused murderer of Queensland schoolboy Daniel Morcombe, Brett Peter Cowan. QUEENSLAND COURTS

Fake gang's false promise led to Morcombe accused's arrest

BRETT Peter Cowan was happy.

He was happier than he can ever remember being in his new home.

"I'm lovin' this," he told his new mate Paul 'Fitzy' Fitzsimmons while they were driving around Perth.

"It's not just the money, it's the … mateship."

Mr Cowan spent three months driving around the Western Australian capital doing cash jobs with his new friends after a "chance" meeting with a bloke named Joe Emery on a plane.

He dined at fancy restaurants, drove around in nice cars and got a taste of the high life.

Mr Cowan watched as thick wads of cash - often as much as $10,000 in a transaction - changed hands.

Sometimes the money was to bribe corrupt officials - a customs officer, a port worker, district court worker and a police officer - to keep his new friends safe.

But most of the time it was sourcing income for the gang he hoped to become a part of.


Mr Cowan helped collect debts, including picking up a Mercedes-Benz after someone did not pay up, and regularly picked up money from a brothel madam and other prostitutes working for the organisation.

He helped clean illegal firearms before they were on-sold to bikies, went to Melbourne to pick up $40,000 worth of blood diamonds from Africa and acted as a lookout while others stole stacks of cigarettes from a customs warehouse.

Mr Cowan transported illegal crayfish to restaurants and collected 5000 ecstasy pills, actually made from chalk, as a sample of a $1 million drug deal on the horizon.

"I'd always wondered how the other side lived and now I can find out for myself," he said during a recording played in Brisbane Supreme Court this week.

"I found my calling. I found the job I've been waiting for all these years.

"I want to be an asset.

"I'm willing to do virtually f***ing anything.

"The world is our oyster."

But then his new world got a shake-up that left him with that feeling "in the pit of me stomach".

Mr Cowan realised his past might have caught up with him.

The "big boss" Arnold requested a private meeting in the Swan River room at the Hyatt Hotel.

Arnold, also known as covert operative #483, told Brisbane Supreme Court this week that he made up an email from another fictional character to pretend he had no doubt Mr Cowan was the one who abducted and killed Daniel Morcombe.

"The purpose of my role was to establish, to either exonerate or implicate him in the matter, in the disappearance or murder of Daniel Morcombe," he said.

"If he implicated himself, my role was to try and obtain a confession from him.

"If no confession was made, he would have left the room and ceased to be a part of that crime gang."

But Mr Cowan wanted desperately to be part of the gang and to get his $100,000 windfall from the impending "big job".

"This is, you know, like, it'd be the only thing that stuffs me up with youse, this'd be the only thing that stops me from comin' in," he earlier told Fitzy after learning he might be called to give evidence at an inquest into Daniel's disappearance again.

It takes just over 10 minutes before Mr Cowan spills his guts to Arnold in a secret video recording.

"Yeah, okay, yeah I did it," he says.

Mr Cowan goes into great detail about how he abducted Daniel, his unsuccessful plans to molest him, and where he dumped the body and clothes.

With his hair slicked back in a ponytail, wearing a brown zip-up jacket and jeans, he casually answers Arnold's questions one by one.

He believed Arnold could buy him an alibi and could "clean up" his mess.

Mr Cowan knew this crime syndicate could make people "disappear" and saw them source blank passports to send his mate Joe to London when he was "too hot".

His mate Fitzy repeatedly assured him his bosses could make anything go away.

"Sh** disappears and um mate they got rid of sh** for me brother and I'm f**in' telling ya it disappeared and I was sweet man," he said.

In hindsight, if you take away the swearing of the covert officer in character, it must be obvious to Mr Cowan that he was in a police interview.

The questioning was similar to a police video shown earlier in the week where Mr Cowan admitted he looked like one of the comfit sketches of a man witnesses saw at the Kiel Mountain overpass where Daniel went missing.

But it is Mr Cowan's conversations with Fitzy after meeting Arnold that seem to reveal so much more.

He had lost his appetite.

"It is my deepest darkest secret," he told Fitzy.

"That's been my safety net that nobody else knew.

"Today's the first time I've ever told anybody."

You never told your ex missus or anything, Fitzy asked.

"No one," Mr Cowan said.

The accused man repeatedly boasted he was confident police could not pin anything on him and told Fitzy how the witnesses got it so wrong. It was just he and Daniel, he said.

"This is what pisses me off, all the witnesses said there was two people … everybody said there was a blue car with two blokes talking to him, this that and everything else," he said.

"He got in willingly into the car because he thought he'd missed the bus cos the bus drove straight past him.

"I knew this place (at Glasshouse Mountains) had a worker's quarters on it.

"I do know it was there because I had been in there and had me man fun.

"Knew it was safe. F***ing four people can say I been in there, you know."

Fitzy asked him whether Daniel had any idea what was coming.

"No he didn't realise that anything was really wrong," Mr Cowan said.

"I went into the house and then came back and said 'the missus said do you want a drink before we go?'.

"He came inside and I went to pull his pants down, he panicked and I grabbed him."

Fitzy asked: "And that was it? Ya didn't even get any fun out of it mate?"

"In a way that's probably a good thing," Mr Cowan said.

Worried that his actions might affect his role in the new gang, Mr Cowan reflected about how different December 7, 2003, could have been.

"I wish I was f***ing 10 minutes later going to get that wood chipper," he said.

"If I was 10 minutes later getting the wood chipper I wouldn't have seen him.

"Ever since him I haven't touched another kid ... it's only 'cause he's struggled and I panicked.

"Otherwise he would still be here today.

"It was a spur of the moment.

"If the bus hadn't broken down he wouldn't have been there.

"If I'd been in the other lane I mightn't have seen him.

"I could've been a lot longer, like, if he, if I didn't panic, I could've been there for an hour doing stuff.

"I was 10-15 minutes and (then) I was back in the car and driving home.

"If he didn't wanna run I would have had my fun with him and I would have taken him back to near where I got him and dropped him off."

Mr Cowan said after "it's sorted" it was never "getting mentioned out of my mouth ever again".

Knowing he would have to go back to the area where he confessed to killing and dumping Daniel put Mr Cowan in a tail spin.

"I don't know how I'm gonna react going back to the same area," he said.

"Mentally and spiritually you know."

The flip side

THE jury sitting in the Daniel Morcombe trial must decide whether Brett Cowan's confession was fake.

Was the lure of a $100,000 windfall and entry into the "brotherhood" too much for him?

"Part of the operation was to dangle the carrot of big jobs and big money," defence barrister Angus Edwards said while cross-examining Arnold.

"And promises that you could buy him an alibi if necessary and the threat that he would be dropped like a hot potato if it couldn't be sorted."

Mr Edwards also pointed the finger at convicted child rapist Douglas Jackway this week, suggesting he had a five and a half hour window he could not account for on a day he was supposed to travel to the Sunshine Coast.

Jackway, who spent more than eight years in jail for abducting a boy from a bike path near Gladstone and trying to sodomise him, denied any involvement in Daniel's abduction and murder.

Mr Edwards suggested during his opening address to the jury that somebody else could have told Mr Cowan where Daniel's remains could be found and that was why he could lead police straight to them.

Les McLean, who the court heard knew Jackway and Cowan, emphatically denied he took Mr Cowan to a Glasshouse Mountains site and pointed out where Daniel could be found.

Daniel's remains were found at the site where Mr Cowan took police in August, 2011.


Shaddo N-Unyah Hunter


SHADDO: The name the dog who used to follow him around like a shadow.

N-UNYAH: None ya f***in' business.

HUNTER: Heard "hunt" on the television or radio, thought of Hunter and decided it just "f***in' flows nicely".
Brett Peter Cowan had good reason to change his name.

He lost his first job in Perth because of his association with the Daniel Morcombe case.

Mr Cowan lost the second because that boss rang his new boss.

"We will have to let you go, you know what it's about," his boss apparently said.

Mr Cowan said he planned to sever all ties with Queensland when he came to Western Australia and would do it any time to the point of a death certificate if necessary.

"The only ties I've got there are my parents and my kids," he said.

Mr Cowan said he was not worried about the new subpoena the Queensland state coroner had ordered for him to reappear at an inquest into Daniel's disappearance.

"None of their subpoenas will work anyway… 'cos I've changed my name legally," he said.

"It'll be null and void if it came over as Brett Cowan.

"If I thought there was gonna be another subpoena for f***in' court I wouldn't have changed me name. I would've left it.

"I changed it because I thought that it's all f***in' finished and done with, I can change me name and if that name ever came up, me old name ever came up, it's like nobody knows it."

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