Witness saw 'grubby' man near Daniel

The media chases former Sunbus driver Ross Edmonds as he leaves the inquest.
The media chases former Sunbus driver Ross Edmonds as he leaves the inquest. BRETT WORTMAN

A MOTORIST has spoken this morning about "activity" he saw in a lane way near the Kiels Mountain overpass when he spotted Daniel Morcombe nearly seven years ago.

Andrew Jackson told an inquest into the 13-year-old's death that he noticed the commotion because the whole situation seemed suspicious to him. 

Maroochydore Coroners Court has heard other motorists were cut off by a blue car as it raced into that lane way about 2.20pm.

"There was some activity in the lane way but I can’t be specific about what it was," Mr Jackson said.

"That's why I’ve referred to it as clutter."

Mr Jackson helped police with a comfit image and artist sketch of the man he saw with Daniel just before 2pm.

"I noticed Daniel standing pretty close to the edge of the road with his head bowed and a man to his right," he said.

"It didn't match.

"I wasn't aware that was a bus stop and I couldn't figure out why they were there.

"I was uncomfortable with what I saw.

"I said to my son Nick that I didn't like what we'd just gone past.

"(The man) looked like a grub. The style of dress was out of kilter with people who live on the Sunshine Coast.

"It was completely out of sync, out of season, out of fashion.

"He looked like he'd been locked in a cupboard somewhere."

Mr Jackson said he had also been "haunted" by another memory soon after the sighting as he was driving south on the Bruce Highway.

He said he saw a car with three occupants speed past him with a young boy fighting with an older male.

"It's in the quiet times that I sit back and think about it and wonder (if it's connected)" he said.

"It bugs me every time I have a spare thought."

But the incident has been ruled out because Mr Jackson, according to receipts, must have seen that no later than 2pm.

Daniel was sighted on the Nambour Connection Road after that time.

We failed Daniel: witnesses

IF I had just stopped.

If he had just waved in panic.

If I had gone to police sooner.

Hindsight has proved painful for many of the people who saw Daniel Morcombe in the hour before he was abducted and never seen again.

Katherine Reynolds said she was so concerned about the man with a ponytail and “evil” eyes near the “panicked” 13-year-old that she pulled over on the side of the road near the Kiels Mountain overpass on December 7, 2003.

“I slowed down because I saw a young child on the side of the road,” she said.

“I thought ‘where's his parents?'. He had a strained look on his face. A mother's instinct told me something was not right. A man was watching him but didn't appear to be with him.”

Ms Reynolds, who was testifying during an inquest into Daniel's disappearance in Maroochydore Coroners Court, said she pulled over 50 metres away and watched in her rear view mirror. She said she searched for a lipstick or a pen to write down the registration of a blue car near the boy but did not find anything.

“The child's face told me something wasn't right but he didn't wave his arms,” she said.

Ms Reynolds, who had her three-week-old baby in the back, said he did not show any further signs of panic so she tried to remember the number plate which she believed was Western Australian.

She said she came up with “Weetbix” to remember the WBX or WHX she thought she saw on the plates.

“I actually drove to the Nambour police station but I thought ‘they're going to think I'm crazy if I go in there and say this has occurred',” she said.

Ms Reynolds spent about 15 minutes in a shop and then drove back past again.

“There was no one there at all,” she said.

Ms Reynolds was recounting the story to her cousin a few days later and learned a missing child had been in the media. She said she had undergone hypnosis to try to remember the number plate and had helped create a comfit sketch of the man she saw.

Joan Anderson and her husband also drove past Daniel and a “scruffy” man with “messy” hair.

She said she had also undergone hypnosis in attempts to recall the car and registration.

“As we drove by, I had a sense something was wrong because the young boy was dressed so neatly and the man was so scruffy,” she said.

“They just didn't go together.

“The situation didn't look right. I believe the back rear door was open slightly.

“I sensed there was a second person on the back seat but I couldn't see his face.”

Mrs Anderson said she did not report what she had seen to police until February, 2004, because the guilt was too great.

“I was feeling guilty because I had this feeling there was something wrong and I didn't stop,” she said.

David Franklin said he was a passenger in a car when he saw Daniel on the side of Nambour Connection Road seven years ago.

“I got an absolutely all consuming overwhelming feeling something bad was going on which made me look back multiple times,” he said.

“He looked like a bad looking bastard, the one who approached the boy.”

Mr Franklin did not go to police until 2005 after advertisements and TV commercials with the Morcombes prompted him.

He said past dealings with police had prevented him from handing over information before that.

“The biggest single regret of my life is that we didn't stop. It bugs me every day,” he said.

Claude Hamilton, a former car salesman in the 1980s, said he was sure the car was a 1983 or 1984 Datsun Bluebird and that he could still recall what the two men near Daniel were wearing about 1.25pm.

“The lad was talking to him like he knew him,” he said.

But he said he did not report the matter until October, 2004, when his secretary finally convinced him his information could be useful.

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Future of telecommunication

Kristy Sparrow from Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia (BIRRR).

Survey allows rural Australians to voice their concerns.

Taking a national stand

NO WAY: Students from Year 8 created 'No Way' bullying posters to show bullying has no place at Emerald State High school.

Local high school raises awareness against bullying.

Inland Port announced

ECONOMIC BOOST: Federal Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd makes the funding announcement at the Central Highlands Development Corporation's Economic Futures Forum on Monday.

Ken O'Dowd announced federal funding for two major projects.

Local Partners