'None of us were really expecting to see that many photos'

Denise Morcombe leaves the Magistrates court in Brisbane during the committal hearing against her son's alleged killer.  (AAP Image/Dan Peled)
Denise Morcombe leaves the Magistrates court in Brisbane during the committal hearing against her son's alleged killer. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

2.20PM UPDATE: THE Morcombe family is understandably struggling to view dozens of bone photos shown in the court case about Daniel's alleged murder.

Mother Denise had to leave during the detailed bone evidence but father Bruce pushed on.

"None of us were really expecting to see the number and volume of photos," Mr Morcombe said outside court.

"Maybe that's just naive on our part. it's difficult to sit through, but we do our best.

"Just seeing the mannequin skeleton and the images made it all that much (more) raw and real for her, as it did for all of us.

"We all have different levels of tolerance and it's best, any of us who feel a bit wobbly to excuse ourselves."

Mr Morcombe said it did appear there had been a thorough investigation.

"It's certainly encouraging that the evidence to date is being quizzed intently, and that's the purpose of the exercise here," he said.

"I'm sure the judge will make his decision in a couple of months' time."

Bone expert says all 17 bones found at Glasshouse came from same body

A BONE specialist believes all the bones found at the Glasshouse Mountains search site came from the same body.

Donna MacGregor told Brisbane Magistrates Court there were bones from the left and right side of the body, with no duplications.

She said all 17 bones were consistent with a juvenile, noting she had a reference skeleton at the scene to compare bones as they came out of the ground.

After progressively making their way through all the bones, there were no bones from hands, feet, skull or jaw.

The court is now hearing from forensic scientist Ashley Huth who tested a pair of shoes, a Mitsubishi Pajero and a mulcher.

12:15PM: A SKELETAL expert analysed pieces of a hip, rib, leg, arm and vertebrae when she examined 17 bone fragments found at Glasshouse Mountains.

Human anatomy specialist Donna MacGregor said she believed the bones belonged to a child aged 9.5 to 14  years.

The former police sergeant said she determined the bones belonged to a juvenile because of the muscle markings.

"In this case the muscle markings weren't very large, they were very small and not pronounced," she said.

Ms MacGregor said the gender and race could not be determined because there was not enough remains to analyse.

"The more skeletal elements we have, the narrower we can bring the age range down," she said.

"In this case it was partial and we had only limited  surfaces we could use. "

The disturbing evidence proved difficult for Daniel Morcombe's mother Denise who had to leave the hearing.

Morcombes not allowed in primary search area

Brisbanetimes reported police did not allow the Morcombe family to enter the primary search area where the remains of their son and brother, Daniel, were found in August last year.

The Morcombes had asked to visit the Glass House Mountains Kings Road site, where searchers would eventually find shoes and bones later identified as belonging to the 13-year-old.

The crime scene manager, Detective Sergeant Graeme Farlow, with the Sunshine Coast CIB, said he did not permit the Morcombes to enter the primary search zone during their visit, and instead requested they remain behind a designated boundary.


11:15AM: THE likelihood the DNA profile from bones found at Glasshouse Mountains belongs to anyone other than Daniel is one in 540.

Lawyer Michael Bosscher has questioned whether that meant 8500 people in the 4.5 million Queensland population could share six comparison DNA  points identified in a sample humerus bone, also known as the funny bone in the arm. 

He asked whether a New Zealand specialist could dispute the DNA came from another source.

Forensic scientist Catherine McGovern said she could not look at the analysis that way.

"That is not how anyone would expect a population to behave," she said.

"We would have to assess it probabilistically and from what we know ... It would be highly unexpected."

Mr Bosscher also questioned whether the laboratory could have been looking at more than one DNA profile.

Ms McGovern said the bones had been cleaned thoroughly using ethanol before the bones were crushed and DNA extracted.

"The results are not behaving in a way that there are two DNA species," she said.

"It is consistent with a single DNA species. "

Under further cross-examination, Ms McGovern said she could not categorically exclude a multi-DNA sample but the data was not behaving as if there was more than one.

Daniel Morcombe's toothbrush DNA used to confirm remains

A New Zealand forensic scientist has confirmed the remains found at the Glasshouse Mountains belonged to Daniel Morcombe.

Catherine McGovern, from the Institute of Environmental Science and Research, said her scientific tests, using the Low CN technique, showed the DNA matched the teen.

She said the laboratory matched degraded DNA against Daniel's toothbrush.

Ms McGovern said she re-examined a Queensland laboratory sample from Daniel's green and clear Colgate toothbrush and received 20 out of 30 possible hits on Daniel's DNA profile.

She said she also extracted an independent sample from the toothbrush.

Daniel Morcombe during a 12th birthday party.
Daniel Morcombe during a 12th birthday party.

Ms McGovern said she was able get a full DNA profile on the latter through two test techniques.

"By combining the results of that, a full 15-site DNA profile from the toothbrush," she said.

"These are consistent with the partial profile obtained from the Queensland sample."

Lawyer Michael Bosscher, acting for accused man Brett Peter Cowan, asked whether she had tested the bones against family samples to exclude their DNA profiles.

Ms McGovern said she had not used family DNA samples in her analysis because she had been able to extract a full profile for Daniel.

Mr Bosscher also questioned whether the LCN technique was so sensitive it could result in contamination.

Ms McGovern said there was "the chance for introduction of DNA from merely touch or speaking over an item".

She said only a few scientists were allowed in the laboratory where the DNA was tested.

Ms McGovern said they wore face masks, glasses, lab coats, booties and two pairs of gloves while working with a shield separating them and the sample.

She also told the court she could only control contaminants once it arrived in their laboratory and had no control over potential contamination before it reached them.

Mr Bosscher questioned whether she could have obtained the match with DNA from Daniel's twin Bradley.

Ms McGovern said they were not identical twins so they could share a few DNA profile matches or none at all.

She said it was "highly unlikely" they would all the same DNA across 26 possible results.

She was giving evidence in the second day of a committal hearing against  Brett Peter Cowan, 43, who stands accused of murdering the 13-year-old on the Sunshine Coast almost nine years ago.

Morcombes face harrowing day as Daniel DNA evidence given

BRUCE and Denise Morcombe face another emotional day in court as experts go over the DNA evidence linking clothing, bones and shoes to their son Daniel.

Brisbane Magistrates Court heard police divers searching Coochin Creek, south of Caloundra, found dark Rip Curl shorts, a belt and remnants of underpants Daniel Morcombe was believed to have been wearing when he died.

The clothing discovery was revealed for the first time during a committal hearing for Brett Peter Cowan, 43, who stands accused of murdering the 13-year-old on the Sunshine Coast almost nine years ago.

Police forensic investigator Arthur Van Panhuis told the court searchers found the underpants on the bed of the creek on August 20 last year, a week after Cowan was charged in a massive breakthrough in the case.

But the North Coast inspector said further Coochin Creek exploration was delayed after searchers found two Globe shoes and bones in nearby bushland on Kings Rd at Glasshouse Mountains.

Check back throughout the day for updates in the Daniel Morcombe case

The court was shown photos of the crime scene - including a shoe, believed to have been Daniel's, visible through pine needles and other foliage.

The word Globe, the brand of shoes Daniel was wearing when he went missing, could just be made out.

"Once the location of the shoes and early skeletal remains had happened we redeployed the SES staff into the crime scene to assist us with the searching," Mr Van Panhuis said.

"Once that had been completed, that's when we went back to the Coochin Creek area."

Mr Van Panhuis said the initial search canvassed several kilometres of the steep creek bank, a visual search with people shoulder-to-shoulder, and a dive squad in the creek itself.

He said the dive squad used metal detectors and dug 25-30cm into sand.

"That's where they located the shorts and belt," he said.

Mr Van Panhuis said there were multiple clusters of bone fragments found at the bush search site but they were "extremely fragile".

Cowan is accused of "enticing" Daniel on December 7, 2003, with an intent to deprive Bruce Morcombe of his son, while the boy was waiting for a bus on Nambour Connection Rd.

He is also charged with murder, indecently dealing with a child, deprivation of liberty and interfering with remains.


52 witnesses to be cross-examined

478 witness statements

233 exhibits

Catch up on the evidence given during the committal hearing so far

Topics:  brett peter cowan committal hearing daniel morcombe

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