Police chase new Daniel lead
POLICE have obtained phone records in their hunt for a mystery caller who may provide fresh leads in the investigation into missing Sunshine Coast boy Daniel Morcombe.
A coronial inquest heard today that police obtained the reverse call records for Sunbus between midday and midnight on December 7, 2003 - the day Daniel went missing.
Police are sifting through the people who called Sunbus, focusing on between 330 and 530pm, to try to track down the mystery woman.
The new lead comes after a senior officer in the investigation agreed yesterday the case should be be independently reviewed as a “cold case”.
Lawyer Peter Boyce, acting for the Morcombe family, had asked Detective Sergeant Tracey Barnes whether anyone had ever reviewed all of the 18,000 job logs and 35 dossiers on persons of interest in the 13-year-old's abduction.
Mr Boyce focused on why police did not follow up on a phone call from the mystery woman who inquired about a missing child an hour before Daniel's parents realised their son had disappeared on December 7, 2003.
Sunbus duty controller Jeff Norman told the court this week that a woman waiting at a Woombye bus stop where Daniel was last seen had phoned the office to ask if a child had been reported missing.
Mr Norman said the woman terminated the call when he told her there was no report and did not identify herself.
Mr Boyce said Denise Morcombe, Daniel's mother, did not make the call, as the Morcombes were in Brisbane at the time Daniel disappeared and did not return until later that day.
He said one person of interest was a woman and that numerous associates of persons of interest were women.
“It could be a vital piece of information if someone else called,” he said.
Sgt Barnes said that at Mr Boyce's request, police this week made a request to search an unnamed telco's phone records in an attempt to identify the caller.
But she said that in 2003, Optus only kept call charge records for about eight weeks while Telstra and Vodafone kept records for three years.
Sgt Barnes told the inquest today police had now accessed the reverse call-charge records from that day.
“The [latest] information on those [matters] is that the reverse CCR has been obtained for the bus company and at this stage we are in the process of speaking to the subscribers who called during those times,” she said.
Detective Sergeant Barnes said calls were made to Sunbus between 3pm and 5pm, but as expected the Morcombes were not among the callers in that time.
She said more information “should be available later today”.
Sgt Barnes said yesterday Mr Norman could have had the time wrong or it could have been another mother inquiring about her son.
But Sgt Barnes admitted: “In hindsight the reader (of Mr Norman's statement) at the time could have instigated CCR records”.
“I agree the investigation should be the subject of a review ... by investigators not involved in the original investigation,” she said.
When questioned why so many people did not create comfit photos of the suspects they saw, Sgt Barnes said many people could not remember enough detail.
She said comfits were important and impressed upon investigators twice daily.
“We didn't have a body or a scene, we needed a comfit, we needed to identify that guy,” she said.
Sgt Barnes was also questioned about why photo boards of suspects were rarely used.
She said photo boards often clouded people's fragile memories and if a selected person was later exonerated, it could affect the whole case.
“If it's a fishing expedition, then photo boards aren't the most reliable tools,” she said.