Exclusive: Daniel Morcombe’s killer 'being housed with other inmates'

By Paula Doneman

The man who murdered Sunshine Coast boy Daniel Morcombe is being housed with other inmates for the first time after spending more than 700 days in isolation.

However Brett Peter Cowan, now 46, is still being protected by authorities who have moved him into unit S8 of Wolston Correctional Centre – a safer part of the prison.

The move follows weeks of Cowan’s case management team gradually introducing Cowan to the unit in blocks of two-hour visits.

When Cowan was convicted of Daniel’s abduction and murder in March 2014, he was placed in the detention unit at the jail for his own safety.

Authorities deemed him too higher risk of being attacked by other prisoners wanting to kill the man who murdered Daniel Morcombe.

Brett Peter Cowan prior to his arrest for the murder of Daniel Morcombe. Source: 7News.
Brett Peter Cowan prior to his arrest for the murder of Daniel Morcombe. Source: 7News.

Unit S8 houses up to 60 inmates, many with psychological problems, and it is where Gerard Baden Clay spent his first night after being found guilty of murdering his wife Alison in 2014.

Prison sources said an S8 inmate with a long history of self-harm had “taken Cowan under his wing” and management were closely monitoring the killer.

Cowan’s biggest threat at the jail is child rapist Douglas Jackway who has allegedly repeatedly and openly threatened to kill Cowan, according to prison staff.

Prison sources said Jackway hates Cowan and partly blames him for the backlash he has experienced over being wrongly implicated in Daniel’s murder.

Last month, Jackway, 38, was transferred to another jail after he allegedly tried to ambush Cowan as he was being escorted through the jail.

Prison staff said Jackway walked out behind a cleaner to sneak out of his S7 unit and into an outside walkway in S6 area where they believe he was lying in wait for Cowan.

Officers allegedly found him holding a broom in the area where prisoners are only allowed if escorted.

Prison staff said they believe Jackway moved after he overhead radio communications announce that Cowan was being escorted from S8 back to his cell in the detention unit.

Jackway then trashed his cell and allegedly threaten to kill officers and Cowan.

An inquest in the 2003 abduction of Daniel Morcombe proved instrumental in identifying Daniel's killer.
An inquest in the 2003 abduction of Daniel Morcombe proved instrumental in identifying Daniel's killer.

He was transferred to the detention unit at Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre before he returned to Wolston jail last week.

In another security breach in 2014, Jackway was accidentally placed in adjoining cell next to Cowan at Wolston jail.

Prison staff said Jackway put in an exercise yard adjoining Cowan’s cell.

The pair were separated by a locked steel door, but prison sources said when Jackway realised he was near Cowan, he repeatedly threatened to kill him “when he got his hands on him”.

Jackway has a reputation for violence and standovers behind bars and at one stage, was suspected of torturing and raping a younger inmate at Townsville Correctional Centre.

Prison sources said custodial staff new to the jail placed Jackway in the yard for a two hour exercise session, unaware Cowan was in the neighbouring detention unit.

Jackway has spent all but three months of his adult life behind bars for the violent sexual assaults of two children.

Earlier this year, the Brisbane Supreme Court ruled Jackway was too dangerous to be freed.

Justice Debra Mullins rejected Jackway’s claims that a series of violent outbursts were a result of bullying from inmates over his connection to the Morcombe case.

Jackway was jailed in 1995 for the sexual assault of a boy in Gladstone and was released in November 2003, one month before Daniel Morcombe was abducted.

During the 2014 trial for Daniel’s murder, Cowan’s defence team cross-examined Jackway about his conflicting statements to police over his whereabouts and proximity to the abduction site.

News break – March 3