Inadequate resources were directed towards Daniel Morcombe’s killer in the early stages of the investigation, despite a police officer identifying him as a “key suspect”, a coronial inquest has heard.
The inquest has resumed more than five years after it was adjourned, to look at the adequacy of the investigation into Daniel’s disappearance in 2003.
The two-day hearing is underway in Brisbane, despite his murderer Brett Peter Cowan already being behind bars.
At the time of Daniel’s death, Kenneth King was working for the child exploitation branch Taskforce Argo when he was tasked with running the alibis of potential suspects, including Cowan.
Mr King interviewed Cowan and his then wife in the same month Daniel went missing and formed the opinion Cowan was “very suspicious” and should be investigated further.
Mr King said Cowan had put himself travelling the road in the vicinity of Daniel and resembled a police suspect sketch that had been produced.
The inquest heard Mr King passed on the information to other investigators and was told the homicide squad would take over.
To his surprise, to his knowledge no further surveillance or search warrants were carried out on Cowan.
He believed doing that would have yielded more evidence earlier.
“I got the impression of guilt from him,” Mr King told the inquest.
“He seemed like someone who was a little bit too cooperative.”
With all the resources available in the investigation, he would have put immediate surveillance on Cowan.
“Search warrants at every premises that was connected with Cowan, a thorough forensic investigation both of premises and the vehicle,” Mr King added outside court.
Mr King said he felt he made his concerns about Cowan clear.
“I was quite adamant, there was no ambiguity,” he told the court.
“I thought he would be elevated to be a key suspect.
“Inadequate resources were directed to Cowan … in the early stages.”
Daniel was abducted from a Sunshine Coast bus stop 13 years ago on his way to Maroochydore to buy Christmas presents for his family.
It sparked one of Australia’s largest police investigations and led to the conviction of Cowan, who is serving a life sentence.
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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