A judge has reserved sentencing in the Daniel Morcombe case until Friday after hearing four harrowing victim impact statements on Thursday afternoon.
Brett Peter Cowan has been found guilty of murdering the Queensland schoolboy in 2003.
Cowan, 44, has also been found guilty of indecently dealing with the 13-year-old and interfering with his corpse.
The court heard victim impact statements from Daniel’s parents Bruce and Denise Morcombe and his brothers Dean and Bradley.
Daniel’s father has told his son’s killer he picked the wrong family during a raw victim impact statement read out during Cowan’s sentencing.
Bruce Morcombe told the Brisbane Supreme Court Cowan’s actions had ripped his family apart and he was haunted by thoughts of the “unspeakable” things he had done.
He said Cowan had robbed Daniel, a child who would never hurt a fly, of 70 years of life.
You picked on the wrong family. Our collective determination to find Daniel and expose a child killer was always going to win.
“You made one monumental mistake that day,” he told Cowan.
“You picked on the wrong family. Our collective determination to find Daniel and expose a child killer was always going to win.”
Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne read out Denise Morcombe’s victim impact statement.
She wrote about the love for her son, an innocent boy who loved animals and wouldn’t have hurt a soul.
Ms Morcombe still had nightmares and was haunted by images of her son lying in “dark eerie bushland being destroyed by wild animals”.
“I made a vow to Daniel I would find out where he is and justice will be done,” she said in her victim impact statement.
“I have lived and breathed each day to find the answers.”
She said Cowan was a “sexual freak” who had no respect for human life.
“This day hasn’t brought closure, but the streets are safer without you walking them and looking for your next target to destroy.”
Earlier, the jury in Brisbane returned the unanimous verdict to a packed court room after seven and a half hours of deliberation.
Daniel’s parents clasped hands when the jury’s spokesperson announced the verdicts.
Wearing a grey suit, Cowan stared straight ahead and showed no emotion when the verdicts were handed down.
Justice Atkinson thanked jurors before dismissing them.
“You’ve brought an end to this terrible case, you’ve considered all the evidence, you considered your verdict very carefully,” she said.
“I have noted throughout the trial the careful attention you have given to all of the evidence.
“You have 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.”
Asked whether he had anything to say as to why sentence shouldn’t be passed on him, Cowan replied: “No”.
After the judge left the room Mrs and Mrs Morcombe embraced.
Flanked by sons Dean and Bradley, they were congratulated by a number of supporters.
Daniel was abducted while waiting for a bus at Woombye on December 7, 2003.
His disappearance became one of the most high profile missing persons cases in the country.
More than 100 witnesses, including Daniel’s parents, testified during Cowan’s four-and-a-half-week trial.
More than 200 items of evidence were submitted, including video and audio recordings of Cowan confessing to undercover police that he killed Daniel.
Cowan was arrested in August 2011 following a lengthy police investigation and undercover operation.
Covert police officers posing as criminal gang members tricked Cowan into confessing to the murder and revealing where he dumped Daniel’s body.
The schoolboy’s remains were discovered in bushland at the Glass House mountains, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, close to where Cowan said they would be.
The Daniel Morcombe Foundation released a short statement on its Facebook page after the verdict was read out.
“Compelling evidence has proven beyond reasonable doubt Cowan’s guilt,” it read.
“Thanks largely to the Covert Police involved and SES searchers plus scientific experts, a child killer has been exposed.
“On behalf of our entire family we thank everyone who has contributed to finding the answers and especially for never forgetting Daniel. Please support Daniel’s legacy of Keeping Kids Safe through the initiatives of the Daniel Morcombe Foundation. Denise and Bruce x.”