A roadside tribute to Daniel Morcombe near where he disappeared. FILE
A roadside tribute to Daniel Morcombe near where he disappeared. FILE Brett Wortman

Accused murderer popped in for coffee-chats and drugs

STOPPING to visit a "friend" in Beerwah for a cuppa, chat and drugs was a common practice for accused murderer Brett Peter Cowan.

But his mate Kevin Fitzgerald told Brisbane Supreme Court he could not remember if Mr Cowan, 44, did so the Sunday Daniel Morcombe disappeared.

Mr Fitzgerald, who was living at 154 Peachester Rd at Beerwah in 2003, said he had known Mr Cowan for some months and that he would visit two to three times a week.

"Sometimes he'd just drop in for a cuppa and a chat," he said.

"Other times he'd drop into score marijuana ... $25-30 worth, very little.

"Sometimes he'd just drop in out of the blue.

"We'd known each other for a while, months.

"I thought we were friends."

Mr Fitzgerald said he and his partner Sandra Drummond, who is yet to testify, regularly would head to the Beerwah RSL on Sundays.

He said it was five minutes from his home to the RSL and Ms Drummond's daughter often worked there on Sundays.

Mr Fitzgerald said they would use a rewards card in the pokie machines when they went because he could select a prize from the showcase when he built up enough points.

He said he never lent his rewards card to anyone else.

The reason for this questioning has not yet been explained.

Mr Fitzgerald said he could not recall 100% if he and Ms Drummond went to the Beerwah RSL on December 7, 2003.

Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne asked Mr Fitzgerald: "Do you recall if Brett Cowan came to your house at 154 Peachester Road, Beerwah (that day)?"

"No I don't remember that," he said.

Defence barrister Angus Edwards asked if it was fair to suggest Mr Fitzgerald's memory was not the best.

"You've previously said your memory is not really good because you've had a few knocks to the head over the years and you've smoked cannabis for many years?" he said.

"Yes that's right," Mr Fitzgerald said.

Mr Edwards suggested Mr Cowan did go to Mr Fitzgerald's home on that day.

"I don't remember. He might have, he might not," he said.

Mr Edwards suggested Mr Cowan showed Mr Fitzgerald a mulcher in the back of his Pajero that day.

"Possibly but I don't remember it," he said.

"It's the sort of thing I would remember."

Mr Fitzgerald explained he often played around with "mechanical stuff" and that he had spent five or six weeks rebuilding a mower around that time "so it should stick in my head".

But he said he had no recollection of it at all.

Frank and Hazel Davis, who knew Mr Cowan from the Suncoast Christian Church, said Mr Cowan collected a mulcher from their property at Perwillowen Rd, Nambour, the day Daniel disappeared.

Mr Davis, 80, said Mr Cowan worked for his son Trevor's sandblasting business in 2002-03 and was regular at their family functions.

He said Brett had phoned to borrow the mulcher between 12.45pm and 1pm and was told he must get there quickly as they would leave by 1.30pm.

"It would have been half to three quarters of an hour later and I helped him load the mulcher into his vehicle," he said.

"I now know it was a white Pajero station wagon.

"It went in the back. Because of the size … it was quite awkward to load."

Mr Davis said he thought Mr Cowan was wearing scruffy work clothes, was "fairly slim", usually unshaven and had medium length hair, not below his shoulders.

He said Mr Cowan would regularly pick up his son's equipment or his welding gear.

"It was quite common for Trevor's staff to come down in various vehicles to pick things up and take them away," he said.

Mr Davis said it took no more than 10 minutes to turn the vehicle around and load the mulcher before Mr Cowan left.

Defence barrister Angus Edwards suggested Mr Cowan had cut his hair a couple of months prior and it was short all over.

"That's a possibility," Mr Davis said.

Mr Edwards suggested Mr Cowan would sometimes wear his hair long but when it was hot he would shave it.

"Most of the time I saw Brett he had his hair fairly long but I can't remember for sure," he said.

His wife Hazel said she only poked her head out the door to say hello and could not remember what Mr Cowan looked like that day.

Bus driver was just following instructions

SUNSHINE Coast bus driver Ross Edmonds has testified he was just following instructions when he drove past a boy in a red t-shirt without stopping to pick him up.

He also denied having an argument with a fellow passenger about leaving the boy behind.

Mr Edmonds said his bus broke down near the Blackall Street intersection at Woombye, about a kilometre north of the Kiel Mountain Road overpass where Daniel Morcombe was believed to be waiting, at 1.44pm.

He said he looked at his watch about 2.10pm while he was waiting for a replacement bus and believed it arrived about five minutes later.

Mr Edmonds said fellow bus driver Jeffrey Norman told him to go direct to Maroochydore, that they would do "pick-ups" on the way back.

He said he saw two people when he drove under the overpass.

"A young chap in a red shirt and black trousers and another chap sitting up on the side of the bank," she said.

"He lifted his finger and I pointed to him there was another bus coming."

Mr Edmonds said he called Mr Norman, who was following, on a two-way radio to alert him but did not get a response that he could recall.

He said he saw "another fella" about 3-4m from the boy.

"I don't know if he was talking to (the boy) or not but he was looking that way," he said.

"He had dark hair, I couldn't put a face to him at all.

"I'd say he was somewhere in the vicinity of late 20s or early 30s just by the look and size of him."

Bus passenger Katherine Bird said she had an argument with Mr Edmonds about not stopping to pick up the boy.

She said the driver told her he would throw her off the bus if she did not sit down.

Ms Bird said she did see the driver point his thumb over his shoulder waving side to side to indicate to the boy there was a bus following.

"There was a man standing up against the wall under the overpass," she said.

"He was leaning up against the wall with his arms crossed.

"I remember he had a leg up.

"There was a child standing there waiting for the bus, dark hair, about 13, red shirt, blue shorts, on the edge of the road flagging down the bus."

Her partner Matthew Findlayson said he saw the boy walk towards the road ready to be picked up.

"(I saw) Daniel and the bloke leaning up against the pylon," he said.

"(The man) had shorts on, work boots, flannie shirt.

"He was learning up against (the pylon). His back was leaning against it.

"As we were coming (Daniel) was getting ready for the bus to stop to get on but we kept going.

"He was disappointed, you know, that it didn't stop."

Stuart Rose, who also worked for Sunbus at the time, said he believed the shuttle bus he was following in with Mr Norman was about five minutes behind.

He said he thought the radio transmission was broken and all he heard was that there was something under the bridge.

Mr Norman testified on Tuesday that he would have been no more than two minutes behind the other bus and that he heard Mr Edmonds say there was a boy waiting under the bridge.

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