"It is haunting". The moment police cornered Daniel Morcombe's killer.


“Police! Stay there, Brett!”

As Queensland Police detectives descended on the clearing at a Kings Road macadamia farm in the Glass House Mountains in 2011, Brett Peter Cowan stood almost nonchalantly, one hand in the pocket of his jeans.

“Brett, we’re investigating the abduction and murder of Daniel Morcombe.

For nine years, the 49-year-old thought he’d gotten away with killing the Sunshine Coast schoolboy. But footage made public by police on Friday evening shows the moment that all changed.

The clip, which was released with the permission of the 13-year-old’s family, shows Cowan being told his rights by detectives, and later speaking on the phone as they surround him.

He pauses the conversation and asks Detective Senior Sergeant Steve Blanchfield, “I’m under arrest am I?”

Blanchfield says that he is not if he’s willing to speak to them in relation to the matter.

Cowan responds, “Ah, youse can arrest me.”


When Blanchfield says the words, providing the breakthrough in one of Australia’s most high-profile missing persons cases, Cowan addresses the person on the other end of the phone with chilling detachment: “Yep, cool. I’m under arrest for Daniel’s murder… Daniel Morcombe’s murder.”

Daniel’s father, Bruce, described the footage as haunting: “It is haunting, it is difficult to watch, but there it was: a trap that got him,” he told Seven News.

Cowan is currently serving life behind bars for the abduction and murder of 13-year-old Daniel, who vanished from a bus stop on Sunday, December 7, 2003, while on his way to buy Christmas presents for his family.

The arrest followed a lengthy undercover operation, which resulted in the convicted sex offender giving a detailed account of his opportunistic crimes. He was ultimately convicted by a jury in March 2014.

Daniel. Image: Getty.

The release of the arrest footage comes after the conclusion of a coronial inquest into the investigation. Queensland Coroner Terry Ryan on Friday found that, given Daniel was likely killed within an hour of his abduction, his death could not have been prevented by police. However, "more could have been done [by police] to focus on Mr Cowan in the early stages of the investigation."

Ryan recommended an independent review of high-risk missing persons cases or murders that have gone unsolved for 12 months, and faster return of remains to families.

Ahead of the delivery of the findings, the Morcombe family told media they acknowledged the extraordinary efforts of police to find their son's killer.

"Today, collectively as a family we move on," a statement read, "but individually we never forget."

To support the Daniel Morcombe Foundation - Keeping Kids Safe!, visit the website.

With AAP.