License article

Family sees disturbing images of crime scene in son's death

FOR the first time, Bruce and Denise Morcombe saw photographs of the crime scene where the remains of their son, Daniel, were found.

Their eyes ranged over images of underpants, shorts and a belt unearthed from the bottom of a creek in the Glass House Mountains on the Sunshine Coast. Police had previously said only shoes and bones of the 13-year-old were found in the bushland in August last year.

On the opposite side of the Brisbane Magistrate's Court, Brett Peter Cowan, 42, sat motionless. He is accused of killing the Morcombes' son.

Mr Morcombe said seeing the images had been ''difficult'' for the family, although they had visited the site several times.

''Obviously the family is very pleased that we're able to stay and listen to the evidence first hand,'' he said outside the court. ''Clearly some of those photos capture images that are disturbing to family members and are difficult for us to cope with.''

Police divers found the remains of the underpants at the bottom of Coochin Creek on August 20. Some time later, they unearthed a pair of Rip Curl shorts and a belt from 25 centimetres of sand deposits in the creek.


The items were detailed by the forensic crime scene manager, Inspector Arthur Van Panhuis, during the first day of the committal hearing of the man accused of abducting and murdering Daniel in December 2003.

The 13-year-old vanished while waiting for a bus in Woombye on the Sunshine Coast, sparking the largest missing-person investigation in Queensland police history.

Mr Cowan has been in custody since his arrest in August last year, when he was charged with murder, child stealing, deprivation of liberty, indecent treatment of a child and interfering with a corpse.

The court heard the remains were found uphill and up to 50 metres from the site where forensics officers had been told to focus their search - around what was described as a pond.

Inspector Van Panhuis, who arrived at the search site on August 14, said he was told the area, off Kings Road in the Glass House Mountains, was under two to three metres of water earlier in the year, when much of south-east Queensland was flooded.

More than 40 witnesses will give evidence during the committal hearing, which will run for two weeks. A further two weeks have been set down to continue the hearing in February.