Daniel Morcombe’s accused murderer described to undercover police how he broke the boy’s neck as the child tried to escape being sexually abused.
Brett Peter Cowan said he had only meant to molest Daniel but ended up killing him out of fear of being caught.
Police, posing as criminal gang members, secretly recorded the August 10, 2011 conversation, Cowan’s murder trial heard on Monday.
Cowan had taken them to the alleged crime scene in the Sunshine Coast hinterland believing they would help him clean up evidence.
Daniel’s parents Bruce and Denise Morcombe listened from the public gallery of the Brisbane Supreme Court as the recording of the conversation was played to the jury.
In it, Cowan said he had planned to return Daniel to his local shopping centre after abducting him and taking him to an abandoned house to molest him.
He’d had “no intention” of killing him, Cowan said.
“When I started pulling his pants down he went ‘oh no’,” Cowan said.
“When he … struggled … I thought he was going to run and rah rah rah and yeah and grabbed him back in the house and choked him out.
“… that bone that’s in there, I felt that snap in me arm when I pushed it.”
He said there was “no scream, no nothing”.
“I probably would have been caught in the end if I’d … let him go.”
Earlier, Cowan had indicated to officers the spot where he’d seen a “cute” boy in a red T-shirt waiting for a bus.
He said that when the bus drove past without stopping he offered the boy a lift to the shopping centre.
Once on the road, Cowan allegedly told Daniel he needed to “duck home quickly and let me missus know what’s going on”.
“He was all right with it,” Cowan said.
When they arrived at the abandoned house he invited Daniel inside for a drink with the “missus” before attempting to molest him.
Cowan showed undercover police where he’d driven Daniel’s body to nearby bushland and covered it with branches.
He said he was nervous about returning to the spot, adding: “I don’t really want to be here”.
Cowan, 44, has pleaded not guilty to murder, indecent treatment of a child and interfering with a corpse.
The trial continues.