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Perth the stage for murder case sting
Meeting place: Coco's restaurant. Picture: The West Australain

Covert WA operatives posed as a brothel madam, prostitute, corrupt police and crooked court, customs and port officials to elicit an alleged confession from the man accused of murdering Queensland schoolboy Daniel Morcombe.

These were among characters in their 24 fictitious "scenarios" played out across Perth in the elaborate and sophisticated four-month sting.

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The operation centred on a purported "crime gang" carrying out fake jobs across Perth, including in Claremont, Fremantle, Scarborough, Sorrento and Armadale.

The Supreme Court in Brisbane was told details yesterday of the operation at the trial of Perth man Brett Peter Cowan.

Undercover police from WA and Queensland told the jury of fictitious scenarios, including the payment of bribes, debt collection, blackmail and a prostitution racket controlled by the "crime group".

The sting included fake deals involving blood diamonds, black market crayfish, stolen cigarettes and illegal firearms.

The officers told of scenarios acted out with the aim of developing a rapport with the Bunbury-born accused, who they say was led to believe he was getting increased responsibility in a gang which operated under the mantra "honesty, trust and loyalty".

The jury was told Mr Cowan was gradually introduced to more senior gang members and given the impression they would look after loyal cohorts if they became a liability.

Now in its third week, the trial has so far heard from 113 witnesses.

The jury was told the sting was building up to a purported $1 million ecstasy deal which would net the unemployed Mr Cowan $100,000.

Mr Cowan, 44, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Daniel on the Sunshine Coast on December 7, 2003.

He also pleaded not guilty to indecently dealing with a child aged under 16 and interfering with a corpse.

The sting is central to the prosecution case.

Mr Cowan is alleged to have given a "full confession" of the 13-year-old's murder to the fake crime gang's so-called "big boss" Arnold in a bugged Perth hotel room.

Prosecutors also allege Mr Cowan, whose defence is that his confession is false and made up because of the lure of the $100,000 job, was so keen to ingratiate himself with the gang he took two WA operatives to a secluded site in the Glass House Mountains in Queensland, where he is alleged to have killed Daniel and admitted dumping his body.

Yesterday, a Queensland undercover officer testified he struck up a conversation with Mr Cowan on a Qantas flight from Brisbane to Perth in 2011.

Referred to only by his assumed name, the officer said he sat next to Mr Cowan and they swapped telephone numbers after he claimed to be considering a move to Perth.

The officer described befriending Mr Cowan over the next two-and-a-half-months, starting with "rapport building" exercises that progressed to small jobs for the group that each paid "easy money" of about $150.

The officer said he introduced Mr Cowan to another member of the group, who was more senior in the gang's hierarchy, on May 4, 2011.

He told of jobs including a fictitious debt collection and the surveillance of the prostitute, who was caught out doing work "on the side" so her car and $3650 was taken.

The jury was told the pair were in reality undercover WA police and part of the sting.

The officer said he had his last meeting with Mr Cowan and two other operatives on June 16, 2011, at Coco's restaurant in South Perth.

He said the meeting, known as scenario 10, involved him being handed $10,000 and a fake passport to get a plane to Sydney and then head to London because of a "problem".

One of the pair, referred to only as undercover operative 452, said that in the ruse he was the more senior of the pair but subservient to the WA boss and the national boss.

He testified that each time he met Mr Cowan, he reinforced the mantra of honesty, trust and loyalty.

He began taking over the operation and became the "primary operative" during a meeting at Burswood Casino.

He then drove Mr Cowan to meet a brothel madam and introduced the accused by his other name, Shaddo Nunyah Hunter.

The witness described scenarios from the following months which included black market sales of crayfish to a Northbridge restaurant and the collection of blank passports from an operative in the entertainment precinct.

The blackmail of a bank manager who did a "big no no" of sleeping with one of the group's prostitutes, collecting warehouse keys from a corrupt customs officer for a burglary and a deal at Deep Water Point involving illegal firearms were among more than 24 scenarios the covert police acted out.

Operative 452 said Mr Cowan waited outside the District Court in Perth while he paid $30,000 to a worker named "Ian" who could get the gang "favours".

On June 29, he began talking of the "bigger job" that could net the gang $1 million and promised Mr Cowan a 10 per cent share.

Operative 452 said he then went to Albany where a purportedly corrupt port official was given $8000 for empty canisters to be filled with drugs in the job.

He described a trip to Melbourne in July 2011 to collect blood diamonds, which also involved Mr Cowan meeting gang bosses.

Operative 452 said on returning to Perth, Mr Cowan was introduced to a fake corrupt WA police officer named "Craig" .

Referring to his notes from the operation, operative 452 said Mr Cowan said to him that he had "always wondered how the other side lived" and was finding out.

"I have found my calling, I have found the job I have been waiting for all these years," the operative told the court Mr Cowan said.

A recording of a meeting between the two operatives and Mr Cowan is scheduled to be played to the jury when the trial continues today.