Brett Peter Cowan
Brett Peter Cowan

Defence says Cowan is a "convincing liar" not a murderer

THE man accused of killing Daniel Morcombe used details of where to find the body and clothes to "spice" up his confession, his defence team has told the jury.

Defence barrister Angus Edwards told the jury Brett Cowan "played his part just a little too well" but there were many convincing liars in the world.

"How can you reject beyond reasonable doubt the possibility Mr Cowan heard about those locations and used them to spice his lies, spice his false confession?" he asked.

"There is a lot of pressure to convict Mr Cowan to bring an end to this tragic episode in the lives of the Morcombes and the people in the state of Queensland but follow the evidence.

"Don't be pressured, look what the evidence proves.

"You would not be doing anyone any favours by closing this chapter in convicting the wrong man.

"Brett Cowan …. thought he could use what someone had told him to make himself millions of dollars, to get out from the problems he was having with the inquest, the problems with he was having with his true alibi not remembering him being there.

"To get away from the focused attention of the police and the coroner.

"You might think he thought he could kill all these birds with one stone.

"Not just foolish to falsely confess but a good liar."

Mr Edwards suggested the confession came from "a naïve fool blinded by the promises of millions of dollars of ill-gotten gains".

He said Mr Cowan would have been dropped from the gang if he had not confessed.

Mr Edwards said his client was "skint" and "had nothing before the gang got its claws into him".

"That would have been it, down and out,"  he said.

"For Brett Cowan - that was all he had ever wanted.

"He said things like that all through his conversations with police officers

"Easy work making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

"He played a convincing part

"He would not be the first convincing liar in the world."

Mr Edwards said the Crown had to prove convicted child rapist Douglas Jackway was not involved in Daniel's disappearance before the jury could convict his client.

He said the Crown was wrong to suggest Jackway was a cheap target because he could not prove his whereabouts the day Daniel went missing.

"He was targeted by police for very good reason not because he's a cheap target but because of the obvious evidence implicating him in the abduction and killing of Daniel Morcombe," he said.

"He repeatedly lied to police, changing his version about where he was.

"He just can't keep it straight what he was doing the day Daniel Morcombe went missing.

"That's because it was lies.

"Unless they have proved there is no possibility that Jackway was involved in the abduction and killing of Daniel Morcombe you will find Brett Cowan not guilty.

"Unless they have proved no possibility that a blue sedan was involved in the abduction and killing of Daniel Morcombe you will find brett cowan not guilty.

"It's for the prosecution to disprove those two possibilities.

"Because it's only in disproving those two possibilities that they prove Brett Cowan's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

"They attempt to do so by asserting your will accept Brett Cowan's confession as the truth.

"There's no room in this trial for both Cowan and Jackway.

"There is no room in this trial for both Mr Cowan and a blue sedan.

"Brett Cowan has no connection to Jackway and he has no connection to a blue sedan.

"You know there is no forensic evidence, no fingerprints, no DNA, no hairs, no tyre marks, no shoe prints … linking Brett Cowan to the abduction of Daniel Morcombe.

"You know very well that every detail of Brett Cowan's confession was out in the public arena except the location of the bones and the clothes.

"The third issue is whether you find the only rational explanation for Brett Cowan being able to take the police near to the location of the bones and near to the clothes is because he is the killer

"Unless you are satisfied that has been proved, that it's the only rational explanation for how he could add those details to his confession, then you must find Brett Cowan not guilty.

"The defence case is that we have little trouble deciding that Daniel Morcombe met his death by way of foul play.

"The real question in this trial is 'who did it?'.

"Cowan, Jackway, people in a blue sedan?

"I, of course, suggest to you the evidence strongly points to Jackway and a blue car."

Prosecution urges jury to find Cowan guilty of murder

IT was eight years after Daniel Morcombe went missing and five years after a "supposed conversation", which has been emphatically denied, with a friend who the accused claimed told him where the remains were.

But Brett Peter Cowan was able to point undercover police to a spot just 50-75m from where Daniel Morcombe's remains were ultimately found.

"You might think no one is that unlucky," Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne said.

"To compound his misfortune, he manages to go along isolated tracks (to the creek where clothes were found).

"You might think… he could only have known that from his personal involvement in the events, because he killed

Daniel, he dumped his body, he threw away his clothing."

Mr Byrne told the jury Mr Cowan wanted to join the phony gang police had conjured up.

He said he talked about wanting a better lifestyle, a car and a house as well as  mateship and family.

"At no stage was it suggested this was a gang in the business of killing or murder," he said.

"Do not think for one minute he had to confess to a homicide to prove himself.

"You might think it must have been an important part of the police operation to reinforce the need for honesty.

"He must have least wondered if he lied about his involvement would he be found out, would his honesty be called into question?

"You might think he must have wondered if his payday was in danger."

Mr Byrne said Mr Cowan, at first, denied any involvement in Daniel Morcombe's disappearance which showed he was not immediately overcome and forced into confession.

He said Arnold simply asked Mr Cowan "what do I need to fix?".

Mr Byrne said the question permitted an answer of "nothing, I didn't do it" if that was the truth.

He said it also allowed him to say he did not do it but he had heard where the remains and clothes were.

Mr Byrne said Mr Cowan had been steadfast in his denials until that point and that he denied it for so long because it was his darkest secret and he was the only person who knew.

"Those areas are isolated, they are a secluded spot," he said.

"You may think that to get to those places - he would have to have been more likely to have been there than told about it.

"There is no evidence he was told about it."

Mr Byrne said Mr Cowan admitted he collected watches but repeatedly denied ever seeing a fob watch Daniel was believed to be carrying the day he went missing.

He questioned if Mr Cowan really felt under pressure to conform to what Arnold wanted to hear, would he not have just told him he took it?

Mr Byrne said he talked about picking Daniel up in his own car but suggested, if he was being coerced, would it not be easiest to put himself in a blue car somehow?

He said the Crown case was that Mr Cowan intended to kill Daniel Morcombe, that it was not an accident.

Mr Byrne said, if the jury, could not find intent, then they should assess whether Mr Cowan could foresee Daniel's death as a consequence when he grabbed him around the neck to stop him escaping.

He said they could also convict on murder if they assessed an ordinary person who applied for the force around

Daniel's neck with sufficient time for him to lose consciousness and die could have foreseen death as a real possibility.

Mr Byrne said the way Mr Cowan confessed he callously disposed of the body spoke volumes about whether it was accidental.

He said if it was truly accidental, a person stop to think about what he had done or might panic and run.

"You might think that speaks of the natural reaction to an intended and foreseeable death," he said.

"When Daniel resisted, struggled, the defendant realised this was a child who would report what occurred and he was f***ed.

"We suggest he panicked and he deliberately killed him as an act of self-preservation."

Mr Bryne urged the jury to find Mr Cowan guilty of murder, indecent dealing of a child and interfering with a corpse.


Jury asked to look closely at accused killer's body language

DOES the demeanour of Brett Peter Cowan while confessing seem like a man being forced into it?

Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne has asked the jury to look closely at his body language during the confession video with "big boss" Arnold at the Hyatt Hotel in Perth on August 9, 2011, as well as the words he used.

"We submit he appears relaxed notwithstanding the physical limitations of seeing his face when he confesses for the very first time," he said.

"But look later on, the footage of his face is much clearer when he's outside smoking. We submit he's relaxed, smiling chatting.

"He's interacting with Arnold in a manner that suggests anything other than he was effectively forced into a false confession to horrendous crimes."

Brett Peter Cowan, as filmed by police, during an undercover operation.
Brett Peter Cowan, as filmed by police, during an undercover operation.

Mr Byrne said the confessional evidence was clearly an important part of the Crown case and jury should consider them a powerful aspect of the evidence.

"They are so powerful they overcome any lingering questions about the descriptions of the male at the overpass at 2.15pm and what I've submitted is the red herring of the blue car or cars," he said.

"Ladies and gentleman, just stop and think for one moment about the magnitude of a confession to the killing and sexual molestation of a young boy.

"We submit to you it's not the sort of thing you would do lightly.

"It's the sort of thing you in fact are unlikely to do unless what you say is true

"It is clear (Mr Cowan) contends … the confessions are false.

"We accept it's not impossible to falsely confess.

"You've heard Ray Davey and a man named (Edward) Kneebone did that.

"But you're heard both confessions were able to be shown to be false by police investigation.

"They were both demonstrably false.

"Nonetheless while it is not impossible it is unlikely to occur.

"Unless you accept the relevant confessions were both made and honest in their content you will acquit.

"That is, in the absence of relying upon confessions, which were made and were honest in their content, there is insufficient evidence to convict Brett Peter Cowan.

"However you don't have to accept absolutely everything he said is accurate and truthful.

"For example he told undercover police officers that he took all of Daniel's clothing from his body at the old sand-mining site, including his shoes, and threw it them in the creek.

"You know the shoes were found at the old sand-mining site rather than in the creek.

"If you think that means they weren't thrown in the creek, that does not mean you cannot convict him

"You might think there are reasonable explanations for why he was mistaken about that.

"I don't want to speculate, there's any number (of possibilities)… he dropped them, he didn't realise, anything could have happened.

"You do not need to reach a concluded view on that because it is not a feature that goes to the very heart of the confessions that he said he killed Daniel, we say murdered, that he said he indecently dealt with him and that he interfered with his corpse."

Mr Byrne said there was other indicators in the recordings as well, asking the jury also to consider his repeated confessions to Fitzy after telling Arnold.

He conceded it was most through questioning from undercover police officer Fitzy that those further confessions came.

But Mr Byrne submitted Mr Cowan remained relaxed and did not try to avoid the conversation.

"Consider the apparently relaxed manner in which he can be heard to confess," he said.

"You might think that he would be unlikely to repeat confessions or at least to provide more intimate detail than he had initially if they were untrue.

"You might think if effectively forced into false confession he'd want to minimise the number or times and the number of people he confessed to but he did not.

"Remember that when he left Arnold from the Swan Room at the hotel he was under no obligation to tell anyone what they discussed but he willingly, we submit, told Fitzy."

Mr Byrne asked jurors not to put too much stock into the descriptions of the man standing with his leg "cocked" under the overpass near a boy in a red t-shirt.

He said, similarly, jurors could not be sure what length Mr Cowan's hair was at the time.

"There were almost as many descriptions of what the male was wearing as there are witnesses," he said.

"It's an unsatisfactory foundation for reasonable doubt."

"Indeed there is no satisfactory evidence of what the defendant was wearing that day.

"Don't exclude (Mr Cowan), don't have a reasonable doubt about (Mr Cowan) being the man under the overpass at the relevant time on the basis of what are widely changing clothing descriptions in circumstances where even he can't be sure."


Jackway, blue car, a 'red herring', murder trial told


CONVICTED child rapist Douglas Jackway is a "cheap target" and the jury should not let it distract them from the rest of the evidence in the Daniel Morcombe trial, the Crown says.

Prosecutor Michael Byrne said Jackway was "one of the more colourful and spectacular characters" in the trial and he was not going to defend him.

He said his terrible criminal history might lead the jury to believe he was a "vile individual" but holding his past against him would be a stereotypical assumption.

Mr Byrne said Jackway fell into the same category of thousands of other sex offenders who could not be shown to be on the Nambour Connection Rd the day Daniel disappeared.

A 2003 police photo of Douglas Brian Jackway, as tendered to the Supreme Court during the trial of Brett Peter Cowan.
A 2003 police photo of Douglas Brian Jackway, as tendered to the Supreme Court during the trial of Brett Peter Cowan.

"Our case is, of course, that Jackway was not involved at all," he said.

"There is simply nothing in the evidence, put aside the speculation, that puts him on the Sunshine Coast on December 7, 2003.

"There is evidence he told people he was intending to go there but he changed his mind.

"That history makes him a cheap target to suggest he was responsible for Daniel's death.

"Don't be distracted by the blue car. Don't be distracted by Jackway's blue car either."

"There's nothing to put him or that car on the Sunshine Coast the day he went missing."

Mr Byrne also told the jury to not let the males described near blue cars distract them because it was "nothing but a red herring".

He said Brett Peter Cowan told undercover police the blue car and the two men had "nothing to do with it".


A reanactment of day Daniel Morcombe disappeared FILE
A reanactment of day Daniel Morcombe disappeared FILE

Jury told to carefully consider conflicted accounts from witnesses

SOME saw a blue car, some a white van. Some saw two men and a boy, others saw one man and a boy.

Some saw just a boy in a red shirt with no-one else or any nearby.

Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne asked the jury tasked with determining the guilt or innocence of the accused man in the Daniel Morcombe murder trial to concentrate on the people who were travelling on a replacement bus.

Those people, he said, saw one man, a boy and no vehicles at the Kiel Mountain overpass about 2.15pm on December 7, 2003. Neither person was there two minutes later when another bus came by looking out for them.

"So you might think, in light of that, that consistency gives you a reliable platform to work from," he said.

Mr Byrne asked the jury to consider whether some of the other witnesses' recollections had changed over time or whether their recollections had any logical connection to the issues in the trial.

No doubt people genuinely wanted to help and they should be applauded, he said but "that doesn't make it relevant".

Mr Byrne said the man who gave a spectacular account of a child abduction at 10.30am could not have related to Daniel.

He said it was human nature to draw sinister connotations from innocent events.

Mr Byrne said he accepted there was a blue car, likely many given witnesses' various registration recollections, on the Nambour Connection Rd that Sunday summer afternoon.

"You might think there is a likelihood there was a good volume of traffic. The odds of blue car being there was astronomically high," he said.

"We don't deny a white van in the area. It had probably broken down.

"We don't deny there was a man or possibly men in the area of these cars when they were seen.

"At some stage .. it's possible this man or men spoke to Daniel.

"It's speculative to say any of these vehicles or people had anything to do with Daniel's disappearance."

Mr Byrne said the jury should accept that the human remains found at the Glasshouse Mountains site where Brett Peter Cowan took undercover police belonged to Daniel Morcombe.

He said it was an overwhelming proposition when you considered evidence about the 17 bones and shoes found at the site.

Mr Byrne said all were partial, degraded bones which were affected by acidity in the ground, exposure to the elements and wild animal interference.

"All of that can account for why there were not more bones found and why those found were partial only," he said.

Mr Byrne said experts concluded there were no duplicate bones, they were from a juvenile and they were all found in the same general area.

He said DNA experts, using four different techniques, concluded there was a strong likelihood the samples came from Daniel Morcombe.

Mr Byrne said only two pairs of the Globe shoes found at the scene went to the Main Beach store where Daniel bought his.

He said the wear patterns matched Daniel's other shoes.

"The odds of that other pair turning up almost adjacent to where Daniel's' remains were found, you might think astronomical," he said.

"You might think that leads to the inevitable conclusion they were his shoes found at the scene."

Mr Byrne said the underpants found at Coochin Creek matched other samples from Daniel's bedroom in terms of styles, size and labelling as well as one colour match.

The Crown closing address will also cover the confessional evidence and submissions on how everything tied together to prove Mr Cowan's guilt, Mr Byrne said.

Daniel Morcombe.
Daniel Morcombe. Contributed

Cowan acted with 'murderous intent', Daniel jury told

THE jury in the Daniel Morcombe murder trial has been asked to draw an inference that the accused man acted with "murderous intent, an intent to kill".

Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne also asked the jury to infer Brett Peter Cowan must have had special knowledge of where Daniel Morcombe's remains and clothing could be found which could only be gained if he was involved in abducting and murdering Daniel.

But he said the jurors could not draw any detrimental inference from Mr Cowan's decision not to call evidence in the trial.

Mr Byrne said what that did mean, though, was that the differing accounts Mr Cowan had given to police in interviews and to undercover police in secret recordings was unsworn and untested in a courtroom setting.

He said it almost meant the Crown case went unchallenged except for any inroads defence barrister Angus Edwards made through cross-examining witnesses.

Mr Byrne noted Mr Cowan told police during one interview that he "probably" would not tell them if he was involved in Daniel's disappearance.

He said the jury was entitled to give less weight and less credence to the accounts where Mr Cowan denied involvement.

"You will discard them as being unreliable when you look at all of the evidence, including the fact … he is more likely to tell the truth to his supposed friends than to people he actually knows are police officers

Mr Byrne said the jury must decide what they accept and reject from the various witnesses and confessions.

"There is no evidence to explain how (Mr Cowan) came upon the knowledge of the whereabouts of Daniel Morcombe and the place where his clothing was," he said.

"There is no evidence to contradict what is the natural arising inference, that is that he knew where these things are because he is the one that killed Daniel Morcombe and put them there."

Mr Byrne drew the jury's attention to Les McLean, who was asked in cross-examination whether he told Mr Cowan where Daniel's remains could be found and showed him the Glasshouse Mountains site.

"He adamantly denied it," he said.

"There is no evidence that conversation ever occurred. That may be important."

Mr Byrne told the jury they must assess what evidence they thought was reliable.

He said there was a huge public appeal for information and people genuinely wanted to help when they went to police with information but many accounts must be "either mistaken or irrelevant" when compared against the whole of the evidence.

"We have here… people trying to remember back 10 years," he said.

"The human memory is fallible.

"The recordings of Brett Cowan were made at the time, there can be no mistake about what he said."

Mr Byrne said there were some curious features to the Crown case that he could not close off completely but the confession was compelling and repeated over several days.

He said once the jury assessed those compelling confessions, they would be left with no reasonable doubt Mr Cowan was involved.

The Crown is expected to take until at least lunch time to close its case.

The defence will then deliver closing submissions to the jury.

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