Cowan a 'murderous sex offender'
Bruce and Denise Morcombe say it's a "good result" that Brett Cowan was "exposed for his actions" in murdering their son Daniel.PT1M51S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-34pf9 620 349 March 13, 2014
Brett Peter Cowan has been found guilty of the murder of 13-year-old schoolboy Daniel Morcombe.
The six men and six women of the jury have found the 44-year-old father of three guilty of all three charges against him: murder, indecently dealing with a child under the age of 16 and improperly dealing with a corpse.
The man charged with Daniel Morcombe's murder, Brett Peter Cowan. Photo: Supplied
The judge's associate asked the jury: "Do you find the defendant Brett Peter Cowan, also known as Shaddo N-unyah Hunter, guilty or not guilty of murder?"
The jury's speaker replied, "Guilty."
The verdict led to emotional scenes outside the courtroom, where Daniel's parents Bruce and Denise Morcombe embraced their family and supporters.
Murdered schoolboy Daniel Morcombe. Photo: Supplied
The jury delivered its verdict at 1.12pm in Court 11 of Brisbane's Supreme Court.
Mrs Morcombe gasped "yes", as the verdict was announced.
Daniel's twin brother Bradley dissolved into tears. He was comforted by his older brother Dean.
Police Assistant Commissioner Mike Condon gave thanks to investigators and the Morcombe family following the guilty verdict. Photo: Harrison Saragossi
Mrs Morcombe also shed tears, as did Daniel's uncles, aunts and cousins, who had gathered to hear the verdict.
The family then embraced Crown prosecutors Michael Byrne, QC, and Glen Cash, as well as homicide detectives, including Detective Senior Sergeants Ross Hutton and Stephen Blanchfield.
Justice Roslyn Atkinson thanked the members of the jury for their service through the trial.
Bruce and Denise Morcombe speak to media as they enter day 1 of the trial for the man accused of killing Daniel Morcombe. Photo: Harrison Saragossi
"You performed a great service not only for the purposes of this trial but also for the people of Queensland," she said.
"You have brought an end to this terrible case.
"I have noted throughout the trial the careful attention you have given to all the evidence. You've been a truly magnificent jury and I thank you very, very much for what you've done and I excuse you from further jury service."
Brett Peter Cowan's trial for Daniel Morcombe's murder
Assistant police commissioner Mike Condon speaks to media outside the supreme court after Brett Peter Cowan was found guilty. Photo: Harrison Saragossi
Cowan was then asked to stand in the dock.
"Brett Peter Cowan, also Shaddo N-unyah Hunter, you have been convicted of one count of murder, one count of indecent dealing with a child under 16 and one count of improper interference with a corpse," the judge's associate said.
"Do you have anything to say as to why a sentence should not be passed on you?"
Cowan quietly replied: "No."
Police Assistant Commissioner Mike Condon, who oversaw the investigation into Daniel's abduction and murder, thanked the detectives who worked tirelessly on the case for more than a decade.
"They are credit to the Queensland Police Service and they are a credit to the community of Queensland," he said.
Mr Condon was flanked by Detective Senior Sergeants Ross Hutton and Stephen Blanchfield and Detective Superintendent Brian Wilkins as he addressed the media outside the Supreme Court shortly after the verdict was delivered.
He thanked police agencies interstate and overseas, as well as SES volunteers.
"Finally I would like to thank the Morcombe family for their patience, their belief and ongoing belief in investigators and our thoughts are with them right at this moment and I'm sure that they will be happy with the events of today and the verdict, although their journey is not over," Mr Condon said.
Outside the courtroom, gathered members of the public cheered the homicide detectives who had dedicated much of the last decade to bringing the Morcombes justice.
Retired army officer Michael Rodger, 82, shouted: "What about three cheers for our police? Hip, hip!"
The onlookers replied: "Hooray!"
Daniel Morcombe's death was quick, but callous.
Within an hour of being lured from a bus stop on Nambour Connection Road under the Kiel Mountain Road overpass on the afternoon of Sunday, December 7, 2003, he was dead and his body dumped in an overgrown, old sand mining site less than 40 kilometres away.
His disappearance triggered the largest police investigation in Queensland's history, which culminated in an elaborate covert operation that would successfully extract a detailed confession from the schoolboy's killer.
Cowan emerged as a suspect in the case just two weeks after Daniel disappeared. His white Mitsubishi Pajero was dusted for fingerprints and tested for traces of blood, but no incriminating evidence was found and the lead ran cold.
Yet, police never discounted their suspect.
Eight years later, Cowan would become the target of an elaborate and sophisticated undercover police operation in which covert operatives assumed the identities of criminal gang members.
After four months, Cowan led police to Daniel's remains. That would be the decisive factor in the Crown case against him.
Cowan took the undercover operatives to a macadamia farm and a defunct sand mining site off Kings Road in the Glass House Mountains.
"That's where it happened," Cowan told them.
He then led them to a bridge over Coochin Creek where he said he had thrown Daniel's clothes.
Seventeen bones, as well as his two sandshoes, were eventually found at the sand mining site.
His Ripcurl shorts and the elastic band of his Bonds underwear were found in the creek, metres from the bridge.
"So how, you might wonder, did the defendant get the right sand mining site? There are quite a few of them around the Sunshine Coast," Mr Byrne told the jury.
"And yet, he not only got the right sand mining site, he got the right bridge ...
"He travels from the other side of the country, nearly eight years after Daniel Morcombe went missing ... and takes police to an isolated area, a secluded spot ...
"He says where he dumped the body and it turns out to be ... something between 50 and 70 metres away from where the majority of the bones were found. You might think, no one is that unlucky.
"He could have only have known that from his personal involvement in the events, because he killed Daniel, he dumped his body, he threw away his clothing."
Others had previously confessed to Daniel's murder, but none led police to the schoolboy's remains.
Cowan was arrested and charged on August 13, 2011.
Nine years after his disappearance, Daniel was laid to rest on December 7, 2012, at a memorial service attended by hundreds on the Sunshine Coast.
Mr and Mrs Morcombe, ever stoic in their grief, sat in the front row of the public gallery each and every day of the trial, listening to the harrowing details of their son's final moments.
Daniel's fraternal twin Bradley and his eldest brother Dean, now aged in their mid-20s, were also present in the public gallery, a reminder of the young life lost too soon.
For the Morcombes, justice for Daniel was a long time coming.