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No plan to have Daniel Morcombe case thrown out yet

2.30PM UPDATE: LAWYERS for the man accused of murdering Daniel Morcombe say they do not plan to make a "no case" submission after they finish rigorously testing the evidence.

Michael Bosscher, acting for accused man Brett Peter Cowan, said outside court that DNA evidence was not an exact science and it was in everybody's interests that it was thoroughly examined.

He said the possibility of contamination of DNA evidence was an issue that must be explored.

"It has never had been an exact science, particularly in some of the lesser used areas of DNA profiling but it's something that needs to be thoroughly examined and that's part of the process we're going through during this hearing," he said.

"The type of DNA evidence they've obtained in this particular matter is much, much more susceptible to contamination.

"That doesn't mean there has been but it's an area that has to be examined."

Mr Bosscher said the committal hearing was only examining about 1% of the "huge brief of evidence" in the case but it was the most relevant material.

On Thursday, Mr Bosscher is expected to cross-examine another forensic scientist on DNA evidence and two hydrologists involving in assessing water flow at the search site.

 

Bruce Morcombe returns to the Magistrates court after a break (AAP Image/Dan Peled)
Bruce Morcombe returns to the Magistrates court after a break (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

1.20 PM UPDATE: BRUCE and Denise Morcombe have expressed hope they may be reunited with Daniel's remains after the completion of a committal hearing against the man accused of their' son's murder.

 

Speaking outside the court on Wednesday, the Morcombes said they were taking the court proceedings day by day.

"Every day has it's own challenges,'' Mr Morcombe said.

He said the case appeared to be progressing well.

"We are really pleased that day by day we are not losing ground.''

Asked about the release of Daniel's remains back to the family, Mr Morcombe said: "We are hoping that common sense will prevail and we will end up with Daniel's remains sooner than later.''

Mrs Morcombe said she found yesterday's evidence particularly difficult as photo after photo of Daniel's remains were shown to the court.

"Yesterday was just a bit too much,'' she said.

"It was a lot better today.''

Mrs Morcombe left the court while a feral animal expert testified about how Daniel's bones had been scattered over the Glasshouse Mountains search site.

The case has been adjourned until 9am tomorrow. It is expected to continue over coming days and is set down for another two weeks in February.

If it goes to trial, it is expected to continue for months.

Top pathologist says bones found were Daniel Morcombe's

 

Daniel with the family cat.
Daniel with the family cat.

11:50AM UPDATE: QUEENSLAND'S top pathologist believes the bones uncovered at Glasshouse Mountains belong to Daniel Morcombe.

Peter Ellis told Brisbane Magistrates Court he based his assessment on the size of the bones, the size he expected the 13-year-old to be when he went missing, and no repeats in the bones found.

Mr Ellis said he also came to the conclusion after learning the results of mitochondrial and low carbon number DNA tests in Victoria and New Zealand.

"They are Daniel's body, that's my opinion," he said.

Mr Ellis also told the court there was nothing on the bones which revealed how Daniel died.

Lawyer Michael Bosscher asked whether he could still reach that conclusion if the DNA evidence proved unreliable or wrong.

Mr Ellis said he could not. 

The case was adjourned until Thursday at 9am.

Catch up on the first day of the committal hearing here

The coverage from day two of the committal hearing

Wild animals definitely scavaging for food in Daniel Morcombe search area

A WILD animal expert says suggesting wild animals were not scavenging for food in the Glasshouse Mountains area is like implying the sun would not rise tomorrow.

Mark Goullet, who specialises in wild animal control and management, was not grilled on his animal behaviour knowledge, rather what information he had about the Glasshouse Mountains site where Daniel's bones were found. 

Mr Bosscher questioned whether Mr Goullet could state there was animal activity at the site without having visited it.

Mr Goulett, who also does research around animal behaviour for public health purposes, said he was not being cheeky when he stated there definitely was.

"Animals are present at the site.

There would have to be animal activity," he said.

"It's like waking up tomorrow and saying there will not be any gravity."

Mr Bosscher asked whether he could "categorically" confirm that.

"Absolutely. The remains would have to remain in a vacuum for that not to occur," he said.

Mr Bosscher said he could understand it was likely but questioned Mr Goullet's certainty.

"I would like to say it with certainty," he said.

"With respect, we know the sun will rise tomorrow whether we see it or not. A blind person would know."

Mr Bosscher said Mr Goullet did not know where the remains were found, nor if they were "on top of a hill or 10 feet under".

"You can give us detailed information as to what would normally occur or way could occur but you can't, in relation to this particular matter, say what did?" he said.

Mr Goullet agreed.

Daniel's remains were scattered over the search site.

A scientific police officer told the court yesterday, this was likely because of wild animals competing for food.
He said they would move away from the pack to eat in "relative safety".

Forensic podiatrist Paul Bennett, who continued his evidence from Monday under cross-examination, said he had examined the shoes found at the search but could not exclude Daniel wore them.

"That's the highest you can put it?" Mr Bosscher asked.

Mr Bennett agreed.

Ned Kelly DNA testing used to identify Daniel Morcombe

 

Daniel Morcombe with a pony.
Daniel Morcombe with a pony.

10AM UPDATE: THE same DNA test identifying infamous bushranger Ned Kelly's remains at Pentridge Prison in Victoria was used in the Morcombe murder case.

 

Mitochondrial DNA, linking maternal lines on the family tree, has connected bones found at the Glasshouse 

Mountains to Denise and Bradley Morcombe.

Dadna Hartman, from the Victorian Institute of Forensic Science, told Brisbane Magistrates Court the tests could not identify an individual but she could link DNA samples from Daniel's mother and brother to the bones.

The biochemistry and molecular biology specialist said she was able to get a complete mitochondrial profile from bone samples she was given. 

"We would expect the mother to have the same mitochondrial profile as her children ... any maternal relative," she said.

"You cannot positively identify an individual but it can be used as an inclusion or exclusion tool."

Lawyer Michael Bosscher, acting for Daniel's accused killer Brett Peter Cowan, questioned whether the reliance on a European database was "pointless" in making such assumptions.

Ms Hartman pointed to studies her institute had completed on remains belonging to 25 people at Pentridge Prison.

"They were very similar to the patterns seen in Europe," she said.

Mr Bosscher also spoke about island populations having similar mitochondrial DNA and suggested, in the absence of an Australian database, her findings were simply "a guess".

Ms Hartman said there had been heavy migration from around the world, especially from European countries, to Australia.

"In my opinion ... The profiles we see do fit those for a Caucasian population," she said.

"It is an assumption based on our years of our experience."

Morcombes face harrowing day as DNA evidence continues

THE Morcombe family today will face one of the most harrowing court days when a feral animal expert is expected to describe why Daniel's remains were scattered over the Glasshouse Mountains search site.

Mark Goullet is expected to detail how scavenging animals competing for food usually spread themselves around the nearby area.

Police scientific officer Michael Kelly, who specialises in archaeology, has already testified in the committal hearing that he believed the animals would do that so they could eat in "relative safety".

Daniel's father Bruce is expected to sit through today's evidence but Mrs Morcombe is likely to give it a miss.

They understandably struggled to view dozens of photos of bones shown in Brisbane Magistrates Court yesterday as a skeletal expert explained which part of the body they belonged to.

Mrs Morcombe had to leave during the detailed evidence.

"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.

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

Check back throughout the day for updates on today's evidence in court

 

Brett Peter Cowan, 43, stands accused of murder, child stealing, indecently dealing with a child, deprivation of liberty and interfering with human remains.

Human anatomy specialist Donna MacGregor said she had analysed pieces of a hip, rib, leg, arm and vertebrae when she examined 17 bone fragments found at Glasshouse Mountains.

Ms MacGregor said she believed the bones belonged to a child aged 9.5 to 14 years and they belonged to the same child because there were no bone duplications.

She said she determined the bones belonged to a juvenile because of the muscle markings.

The court also heard from forensic scientist Ashley Huth, who tested a Mitsubishi Pajero and a mulcher for blood and other DNA evidence.

He said neither produced any positive results for Daniel.

TODAY'S WITNESSES

DNA evidence from Victorian forensic scientist Dadna Hartman

Shoe evidence continues from forensic podiatrist Paul Bennett

Forensic pathologist Peter Ellis

Feral animal expert Mark Goullet

Topics:  bruce and denise morcombe daniel morcombe



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