Why did Queensland police miss clear clues about the identity of the killer of 13-year-old Daniel Morcombe back in 2003?
Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) could cast some light on that last remaining mystery of the Morcombe murder case.
Two former detectives claim the head of homicide at the time, Mike Condon, was
too quick to dismiss their suspicions about known child sex offender Brett Peter Cowan, the man who was eventually convicted of Daniel Morcombe’s murder.
One of those detectives, Dennis Martyn, lodged a complaint against Mr Condon for allegedly trying to stop him giving evidence about the Morcombe case to a coronial inquest.
This originally sparked an internal police inquiry, but now the CCC has confirmed it is taking over the process.
Why the corruption watchdog would take this significant step is unclear. A spokesman would only say it is “due to the level of public interest in this matter”.
Questions about the Queensland police handling of the Morcombe murder investigation were first raised on 7.30 three years ago.
Former detective senior constable Kenneth King told the program how he and Dennis Martyn were the first police officers to interview Cowan in late 2003, and found a 45-minute gap in his alibi.
Denise and Bruce Morcombe have spent thousands of dollars and countless hours teaching children how to stay safe.
“I thought he was a red-hot prospect,” Mr King said.
“I would have thought that the appropriate thing at that point in time would have been to execute search warrants at his home address — I didn’t see evidence of that activity.”
Queensland police have never fully explained why they appeared to ignore this hole in the alibi of a known child sex offender who had admitted to being near the scene of the crime.
In a 2014 interview with 7.30 Queensland, Mr Condon argued the critical turning point in the investigation came during a 2011 coronial inquest, when Cowan’s alibi about picking up a mulcher at a friend’s place fell apart.
“That completely changed our position in relation to Mr Cowan,” he argued.
In 2011, Cowan confessed to the crime in a secret recording made by undercover police posing as criminal gang members.
Cowan was sentenced to life in prison in March, 2014.