The West

Murdered boy Daniel Morcombe

Sitting in the Swan River Room at Perth's Hyatt hotel with a man he believes is the head of a powerful crime gang, Brett Peter Cowan appears composed as he reveals his "deepest, darkest secret".

Undercover police know it as the "big boss scenario" and part of their elaborate, covert, four-month sting.


It leads to Mr Cowan being secretly recorded telling "Arnold" he took Queensland schoolboy Daniel Morcombe to a secluded spot on the Sunshine Coast and killed him in a panic.

The covert video was played to a Brisbane Supreme Court jury yesterday in the third week of Mr Cowan's murder trial.

"I guarantee I had nothing to do with Daniel Morcombe's disappearance," Mr Cowan said at first.

Arnold, a WA police officer known only as undercover operative 483, then talks to him about contradictory information he has from a well-paid source and the need to keep the so-called gang clean.

"Yeah, I did it," Mr Cowan confesses, telling Arnold he offered the 13-year-old a lift to a shopping centre after a broken bus passed his stop.

"I took him to a secluded spot that I knew of. I never got to molest him or anything like that. He panicked and I panicked and I grabbed him around the throat and before I knew it, he was dead."

Mr Cowan describes dragging the boy down a bank, covering his body with trees and branches and throwing his clothes in a creek.

He tells Arnold that when he returned about a week later, he could only find a small fragment of bone and he smashed it with a shovel.

Bunbury-born Mr Cowan, 44, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Daniel on December 7, 2003. He also denies indecently dealing with a child aged under 16 and interfering with a corpse.

This week, the jury was told details of the sting involving police from WA and Queensland.

It involved officers posing as a brothel madam, prostitute, corrupt officials and members of a crime gang which Mr Cowan was repeatedly told could fix things and make any problem disappear.

The court was told the fictitious characters acted out at least 24 scenarios across Perth and regional WA, building a rapport with Mr Cowan and convincing him the gang's mantra was for loyalty, honesty and respect.

The ruse was building up to a "big job" - a $1 million drug deal which promised to net Mr Cowan $100,000.

Yesterday, the jury also heard secretly recorded audio of Mr Cowan explaining to another gang member, "Fitzy" or covert operative 452, why he changed his name to Shaddo Nunyah Hunter.

He said Shaddo was his dog's name, he had heard the name Hunt on television and Nunyah stood for "Nunyah business". Mr Cowan said he believed the change meant any subpoena for him to appear in court under his previous name would be invalid.

In another recording with Fitzy after Mr Cowan left the Hyatt, he said it was the first time he had told anybody about Daniel's death and he was "not proud" of it.

He described it as "spur of the moment" and that he "choked" the teenager. "It is my deepest, darkest secret," Mr Cowan said.

The West Australian

Latest News From The West

The Jamie’s Italian chain and the Chophouse grill in Cloisters Square have been excluded from an agreed sale of eateries and bars owned by the collapsed Keystone Group.

Popular videos

Our Picks

Follow Us

More from The West