A MAN committed suicide three days after he was interviewed by police about the disappearance of Daniel Morcombe, a court has heard.
The suicide formed part of the police investigation into the man, who was considered a person of interest in the case.
Detective Senior Constable Ross Hutton, giving evidence in an inquest into Daniel’s disappearance on December 7, 2003, says the man was later ruled out as a suspect.
An interview with the man’s daughter revealed the man had been depressed before he was interviewed by police about a matter in New South Wales that he thought would send him back to jail.
The daughter told police her father had tried to commit suicide on another occasion before he was interviewed about Daniel’s disappearance.
The man became a suspect because of information given to police, including that he worked in the area near where Daniel went missing.
The person of interest also owned a white van. Police investigations found the van looked dissimilar to the van described by witnesses, which is believed to have been associated with Daniel’s abduction.
Witnesses misled Morcombe cops
The police investigation into Daniel Morcombe’s disappearance was clouded by false information from at least one person of interest.
The assertion came as police were yesterday hammered over why some pieces of information – including a report that a woman saw a man punch a white sheet rising up in the back of a blue car at Eudlo the day the 13-year-old went missing – took weeks to follow up.
Detective Sergeant Tracey Barnes told Maroochydore Coroner’s Court there were hundreds of calls daily offering new information, even now seven years later, and police had to manage staff resources, prioritise tasks and discard false information.
She said police did a doorknock in the Bamboo Road area about six weeks after the call – in April, 2004 – about the sheet incident.
Sgt Barnes said police received information in late December that another woman saw a blue car with a young male in the back seat turn into Maroochydore Road from Eudlo Flat Road the day after Daniel disappeared. She said police doorknocked the area about three weeks later.
Lawyer Peter Boyce, acting for the Morcombe family, questioned Sgt Barnes about why some clothing delivered by Mr Morcombe from a person who asserted “it was clothing Daniel may have been in, had worn” had never been tested for DNA.
Sgt Barnes said the items had come from an informant “whose credibility has been completely destroyed”.
“There was no need in my opinion to ask for DNA,” she said.
“The person who delivered the clothing to the Morcombes had obtained them from someone we had reason to believe had no credibility.
“P3 had provided information that was not true.
“She admitted the material she provided to the Morcombes did not have anything to do with Daniel during CMC hearings.”
The court had heard 14 people were compelled to give evidence during Crime and Misconduct Commission hearings about Daniel’s disappearance.
After being grilled on Wednesday over why investigators had not implemented all of the recommendations from an FBI agent, Sgt Barnes yesterday went through every action taken.
She said a recommendation to call person of interest one, P1, on his inconsistencies was realised during a CMC hearing in late 2007.
Police sought help from FBI agent James Beasley to get “fresh eyes” on the case and he delivered 13 recommendations in 2006.
Sgt Barnes said they had looked into the victim’s background and associates, checked out other crimes in the area and reviewed all doorknock material.
She said they had interviewed most parents at the Woombye school, near the abduction site, and photographed and checked every car going to the nearby Christian Outreach Centre the Sunday after Daniel disappeared.
Sgt Barnes said police checked all itinerant workers, such as fruit pickers and people at caravan parks.
She said they had cross referenced all traffic offenders, checked all sudden relocations through social security details and engaged profilers.
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