The Method QLD Police Used To Catch Daniel Morcombe’s Alleged Killer Will Blow Your Mind

The tragic death of Sunshine Coast teenager Daniel Morcombe has never erred far from the forefront of both mine and Australia’s suspicious minds from the time of his disappearance on December 7th, 2003 – thanks in no small part to the ceaseless efforts of his parents Denise and Bruce, who have campaigned tirelessly for both justice and raised awareness of child safety for over a decade since. 
Prosecutors have this week opened their case against his accused murderer Brett Peter Cowan, and yesterday the Brisbane Supreme Court and the Morcombes heard for the first time the circumstances surrounding Daniel’s death and the incredible sting operation Queensland police have conducted over a number of years to bring his alleged killer to justice. It’s incredible detective work of the truest kind that deserves both recognition and commendation. 
Crown Prosecutor Michael Byrne QC yesterday described for the assembled jury and presiding Justice Roslyn Atkinson the elaborate undercover operation police used to net Cowan – who has pleaded not guilty to murder, interfering with a corpse and indecently dealing with a child under sixteen – and leading to his recorded confession, beginning in August 2011 shortly before Morcombe’s remains were found in bushland near the site of his disappearance. 
Cowan emerged as a suspect as early as two weeks after Daniel’s disappearance on December 21st 2003 and was called on in 2011 to give evidence at a coronial inquest. On a flight back from Brisbane to Perth, Cowan was befriended by the passenger sitting next to him who introduced himself as Joe and who later introduced Cowan to a group of his friends, including a man called Fitzy, who were supposedly part of an “organised, wide-ranging and very powerful criminal gang” whose mantra was “Loyalty, Respect and Honesty”. 
Joe and Fitzy were, in fact, undercover police officers; the gang and its tripartite code of honour an elaborate ruse.
Over a period of several months, Joe and Fitzy inducted Cowan into the ‘gang’ through a series of twenty-four staged criminal scenarios of increasing daring and significance, with the endpoint being a “big job” that would require Cowan prove his fealty. On August 9th, 2011, Joe and Fitzy took Cowan to meet the gang’s leader Arnold – needless to say, also a cop – who promised he could make Cowan’s problems disappear in return for a display of loyalty, which amounted to Cowan’s complete recorded confession that he noticed Daniel waiting at a bus stop on his way to Nambour, stopped, parked his car and offered Daniel a lift. He was then taken to a house half an hour away near a Beerwah macadamia farm where Cowan “never got to molest him or anything like that. He panicked, then I panicked; I grabbed him around the throat and before I knew it he was dead. I was starting to pull his pants down and he said ‘Oh no’ and he started to struggle.” 
Arnold told Cowan he would need to see the crime scene to ensure no incriminating evidence had been left behind; Cowan then lead police posing as gang members directly to the site where, over the next fortnight, Daniel’s remains were found in an “exceptionally intensive search” involving metal detectors, cadaver dogs and divers.
Cowan’s defence has so far revolved around the possibility that he may have given a false confession in exchange for a $100,000 cut of the purported “big job”; his lawyer Angus Edwards has also asked the jury to consider another suspect with a record of child abduction who was in the area on the same day. 
Denise and Bruce Morcombe were also cross-examined yesterday in front of their two sons, vouching for Daniel’s character as a shy thirteen-year-old who would never approach a stranger. The trial has resumed this morning, and the jury are currently hearing forensic evidence related to the search on the third day of a hearing expected to last six weeks.

Photos: Supplied, Police Handout and Chris Hyde via Getty