The man accused of abducting and murdering Sunshine Coast schoolboy Daniel Morcombe nearly 11 years ago has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
Brett Peter Cowan, also known as Shaddo N-unyah Hunter, stood in the dock as the charges against him where read in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Monday morning.
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Morcombes have 'a lot of hope'
Bruce and Denise Morcombe attend day one of the trial of the man accused of murdering their son with "a lot of anxiety", and "a lot of hope in finding the truth": RAW VISION.
Wearing a grey suit and blue striped tie, the 44-year-old father of three appeared relaxed as he formally entered a plea.
To the charge of murder, he pleaded not guilty.
To the charge of indecent treatment of a child under 16, he pleaded not guilty.
To the charge of unlawfully interfering with a corpse, he pleaded not guilty.
Daniel's father Bruce Morcombe stared at Mr Cowan as the charges were read aloud, but his mother Denise looked away. The couple left the courtroom with tears welling in their eyes shortly after.
The process of empanelling the 12-member jury then began. Three reserve jurors will also be selected.
The process is expected to take two hours, but the first of the evidence may not be heard until Tuesday.
Earlier, the Morcombe family was greeted by a large media contingent outside the court.
Under grey skies, Bruce and Denise Morcombe, Daniel's twin Bradley and older brother Dean walked into the court, with Bruce pausing to thank supporters.
‘‘Ten years, two months and three days we find ourselves here, so it’s been a long grind,’’ he said.
‘‘But we certainly thank the media, police, the SES and the community for getting us to this point and we’ll see what the next few weeks unfold.’’
Mr Cowan will sit in the open dock, less than one metre from the public gallery.
Up to 200 witnesses including Daniel’s parents could be called to give evidence during the trial.
The trial will be among the most watched in the country, garnering the attention of the public nationwide, who came to know Daniel as the child whose sparkling eyes beamed from the missing persons posters.
Daniel was 13 years old when he disappeared from a Sunshine Coast bus stop under an overpass on Nambour Connection Road on December 7, 2003.
He was planning to go shopping for Christmas presents and get a haircut.
Nearly eight years later, in August 2011, Mr Cowan was charged with Daniel’s abduction and murder.
Daniel’s stoic parents say they were prepared for what they will hear in the courtroom, having made a vow to their lost boy 10 years and two months ago.
“We made a promise to Daniel, in his absence in those very early hours and days, that we would ride this out to the end,” Mr Morcombe told Fairfax Media last week.
“This, going there, being there in the court room, is part of that promise.”
- with Amy Remeikis and AAP