The  Coochin Creek in the Glasshouse Mountains where police and SES searched for the remains of Daniel Morcombe.
The Coochin Creek in the Glasshouse Mountains where police and SES searched for the remains of Daniel Morcombe. Brett Wortman

No trace of Daniel's blood or DNA found in car of accused

A POLICE scientific officer said he did not find any sign of Daniel Morcombe when he searched a white four-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Pajero.

Ashley Martin Huth said he took swabs from a large number of places inside the vehicle from the front passenger and driver seats right through the back of the car where a mulcher apparently was put.

Brisbane Supreme Court heard during opening addresses that accused man Brett Peter Cowan was driving a Pajero in 2003, which he alleged he picked Daniel up in.

The officer said he also used A4 pieces of sticky tape to capture hair, fibres and botanical material and did presumptive testing for blood.

He said there was no DNA profile, no blood and no other items of interest located.

The court heard he examined the car in August, 2011, and again that September. But it had already been examined before in December, 2003.

The officer said he was also present with another specialist to examine shoes found at the Glasshouse Mountains search site and two pairs of Daniel's shoes his parents had given for analysis.


Bone believed to be Daniel's had been chewed by a dog

A FORENSIC osteologist has told a court how juvenile bones did not attach to the shafts at the end until growing had ceased.

Walter Barry Wood, a retired medical practitioner, said he specialised in juvenile skeletal remains after studying children in Papua New Guinea for 10 years in the 1960s.

He said those studies were to age children who had no birth certificate, particularly to help with the legal system.

Mr Wood said police attended his home in August, 2011, with three bones they had found during a search at Glasshouse Mountains.

He said they were the left fibular of a child, juvenile left tibia and a juvenile left humerus.

Mr Wood said a leg bone had been partly chewed by a dog or some other carnivore.

"The bones were in a deteriorated condition," he said.

"With juvenile bones, the ends of bones are separate from the main shaft while the bone is growing.

"Once growth ceases, those ends unite with the mains shaft of the bone.

"These bones were all missing their growing ends."

Mr Wood said using his knowledge of the development of those bone caps, he believed the bones came from a child aged 12 to 15 years.

He said he could not assess gender through bones.


Water expert reveals why clothing did not wash away during floods

A WATER scientist told the court there had been two significant flood events through the Glasshouse Mountains search site since 2003.

Jonathon Martin Olley, a water science professor at Griffith University who has studied sediment movement by water for 29 years, said nearby Coochin Creek would have flooded on May 21, 2009, and January 21, 2011.

He said described the creek as windy with lots of fallen trees and many roots encroaching on the channel.

"One of the reasons we did the flow analysis was to determine the size of the flows that had come down Coochin Creek between December, 2003, and the large flood event in 2009," he said.

"All those flows we believe were small flushing flows … so the flows would be confined to the channel.

"So if you threw fabrics, materials into the stream in December, 2003, it wouldn't have transported.

"There were no big flows to move it through.

"The small flows would have pushed it downstream just a little bit and the probability is that it would have been hooked up in that vegetation relatively quickly.

"So it wouldn't have gone down too many of those bends in the river before it actually hooked up against some of it."

Police diver follows fine black thread to Daniel's clothes

A POLICE diver has described seeing a small black thread that he followed down to find clothing believed to belong to Daniel Morcombe.

Senior Constable Chae Philip Rowland, based at a police diving unit in Brisbane, said the thread lead to a bundle of twigs resting in Coochin Creek, about 15m downstream of a low bridge about 10.15am on August 18.

He said the underpants were partially above and below the thigh-deep water level.

"It wasn't a spiders web it was actually a fabric," he said.

"That led me to an elastic waist band that belonged to underpants.

"I could see a label on it and I believed it was an item of clothing."

Snr Const Rowland told Brisbane Supreme Court that under a certain light he could faintly see the word Bonds which he believed was the brand name.

The kind of terrain along Coochin Creek in the Glasshouse Mountains area where the police and SES searched for the remains of Daniel Morcombe.
The kind of terrain along Coochin Creek in the Glasshouse Mountains area where the police and SES searched for the remains of Daniel Morcombe. Brett Wortman

Bruce Morcombe had previously told the court that Daniel wore Bonds brand underwear, noting his twin Bradley wore the Rio brand.

Fellow police diver Gordon Paul Thiry told the court about finding shorts and a belt on September 26 after logs and other debris had been removed.

Sergeant Thiry said he was doing a "wading search" along the creek bed where they were trying to find items without putting his head under water.

He said he saw something pressed up against what we believed was a stump and began searching around that area.

"About 20cm under the creek bed in the soft and hard sand … I've located a piece of material I could feel under the water," he said.

"We dug around that and eventually we recovered a pair of shorts (at 9.55am)."

Sgt Thiry said they had a break and then went back and recovered a belt which was semi-submerged in the water, which was less than 30cm deep, about 10.35am.

"You could see part of the belt was protruding," he said.

"You could see it wasn't a natural item - it was on the surface and part of it was under the surface.

Mr Morcombe and wife Denise had previously described to the court how Daniel commonly wore dark shorts, that hung below the knee.

They could not confirm whether there was a belt missing from Daniel's clothing when he disappeared.


Daniel Morcombe trial hears how police lay in wait

A SUNSHINE Coast detective has described hiding behind a log pile at Glasshouse Mountains with another detective moments before police arrested Brett Peter Cowan over Daniel Morcombe's disappearance.

Detective Sergeant Graeme Farlow said he and Detective Senior Sergeant Daren Edwards had received information from other police to be at Lot 1 at 510 Kings Road at Glasshouse Mountains about 9.30am on August 13.

He said he saw a Toyota Hilux drive onto the property with Mr Cowan and two other men he believed were undercover police men from Western Australia.

Sgt Farlow said he saw police officers Stephen Blanchfield, who was videoing, and Ross Hutton approach the vehicle shortly before Mr Cowan was placed under arrest.

He said following numerous briefings, he became the crime scene manager responsible for co-ordinating the searches at the Kings Road sites -  Lot 1, Lot 2 and Coochin Creek.

Sgt Farlow said he also was responsible for maintaining an accurate register of what was found and for securely transporting items found for further analysis or for secure keeping.

He said he went to Brisbane, Adelaide and New Zealand with bone samples, as well as transporting DNA samples from Daniel's family.

Search for Daniel Morcombe at Kings Road, Glasshouse Mountains. Photos: Jason Dougherty
Search for Daniel Morcombe at Kings Road, Glasshouse Mountains. Photos: Jason Dougherty

Daniel Morcombe's body left on forest floor, says expert

DANIEL Morcombe's body was most likely left on the ground of the forest at Glasshouse Mountains, rather than being buried, a police scientific officer has told a court.

Donna Marie MacGregor, who specialises in human anatomy and forensic anthropology, said that conclusion was reached because all 17 bones were found in the top 10cm of leaf and soil on the forest floor.

She said there was a collection of other bone fragments that were significant sizes but they could not be identified properly as human bones because of their degradation.

Brisbane Supreme Court was shown a photo of the bones found laid out in their anatomical positions and then in a graphic matching a 12-year-old boy which was used to work out what bones were missing.

"The size and shape of these bones are all consistent as coming from one person," she said.

"There was no duplication."

Ms MacGregor said she was able to determine the bones belonged to someone aged 9.5 to 14 years but could not narrow it down further because of bone degradation.

She said she used the length of the bones to establish the person was 127.3cm to 135.6cm in height but she could not determine gender with any certainty.

Ms MacGregor said she had been involved many cases where human remains had been exposed to the elements and it was not unusual for them to be pulled out of their anatomical position in the skeleton.

But she said the positioning of the bones, close to the surface of the soil, meant she could conclude the body had been placed on the surface.


Brett Peter Cowan, who has pleaded not guilty to murder, indecent dealing and interfering with a corpse, has told undercover officers he dumped the body at the site the bones were found and simply covered him with leaves and branches from the forest floor in December, 2003.

The bones were found between August 20 and September 9, 2011.

Ms MacGregor said the soil had a 5.5 pH level which meant it was acidic and would have had a "dramatic effect on bone preservation".

She said it would have caused the bone remains to break down "reasonably quickly" over time.

DNA from Daniel Morcombe's toothbrush used to ID bone

A NEW Zealand forensic scientist believes an upper arm bone is 540 times more likely to come from Daniel Morcombe than from the rest of the Queensland population.

Catherine McGovern Elizabeth, from the Institute of Environmental Science and Research in Auckland, said she analysed a thigh and upper arm bone police delivered to her using two techniques, including the more sensitive low copy number used for older human remains.

Ms McGovern, appearing via video-link in Brisbane Supreme Court, said it was a method used to identify nuclear DNA which is inherited equally from a person's mother and father.

"It means except in the case of identical twins each person has a new and unique version of the genetic code in their DNA," she said.

Ms McGovern said she found no DNA profile from the thigh bone but obtained six out of 26 possible results from the upper arm bone.

She said she tested this against a full DNA profile she obtained from Daniel's toothbrush.

Ms McGovern said the DNA detected could have originated from Daniel or an individual who shared the same profile as him at the sites where results were available.

But she said the DNA evidence provided strong scientific support the bone belonged to Daniel.


'Nurse training helped me identify arm bone'

SES volunteer Jasmine Sky McGregor said her nursing training helped her identify an upper arm bone while she was searching for Daniel Morcombe's remains at Glasshouse Mountains.

Ms McGregor, who was living on the Sunshine Coast during the search in 2011 but is now living at Longreach, said she was searching near the water's edge on August 21, 2011, when she found a bone about 11.42am.

"At first I thought it to be a tree root but the end of it looked like a socket," she said.

"At that point I raised my hand for the team leader."

"Police came over and put the markers down."

More to come

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