Warning: This article contains details of sexual assault and could be triggering for some readers.
Tim Nicholls has the face of a broken man.
He could be older than 33 years and yet in many ways he still resembles the little boy who was robbed of his innocence more than 27 years ago.
Nicholls was just seven years old when he was violently assaulted in a child care centre toilet cubicle on December 5, 1987.
The perpetrator of that terrible crime was Brett Cowan – the same man who was last week sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 13-year-old Daniel Morcombe in 2003.
In light of Cowan’s sentencing, we have now learned that Daniel Morcombe was not Brett Cowan’s first victim. Before Cowan abducted and killed 13-year-old Daniel, he had sexually assaulted at least two young boys, aged seven and six years old, respectively.
Last night, in an incredible episode of 60 Minutes, Cowan’s first victim Tim Nicholls spoke to reporter Tara Brown about events that occurred 27 years ago. Those events, Nicholls said, ruined his life forever.
”I was a bright student and after that, my schooling, my, my attitude, my happiness was, didn’t have it no more … He took everything. He took my life.”
Cowan – who was 18 years old at the time – was working in the grounds of the child care centre as part of court-order community service for crimes, including breaking and entering and theft.
Speaking to Brown, Nicholls recalled the events of that day with incredible clarity.
“He just yelled out ‘who wants a golf ball?’ And we all put our hands up and I don’t know why but he just pointed to me,” Mr Nicholls said.
“He said you have to come into the toilets. And I said no. And then he grabbed me and picked me up and took me into the toilets.”
“I couldn’t say anything, he had his hand over my mouth.”
According to the report, Cowan locked himself in the cubicle with the little boy and then repeatedly raped him.
“I told him I was going to tell my mum and he started to strangle me. He threatened he was going to kill me, he grabbed me by the throat and if I didn’t do it I thought I was going to die.”
“I thought I was dying that day. I didn’t know what he was going to do to me.”