The West

From the dark comes strength for Morcombes
Lessons: Bruce and Denise Morcombe. Picture: AAP

Unaware of the elaborate undercover sting under way in WA that would finally ensnare the man who murdered their child, Queensland couple Bruce and Denise Morcombe flew to London in May 2011 for a family holiday.

As always, Daniel was never far from their minds.

And while there, the song Bring Him Home at a Les Miserables West End show had Mr Morcombe transfixed, its words resonating with how he felt about his son's disappearance on the Sunshine Coast on December 7, 2003.

The next day, as covert WA officers carefully developed the complicated plot that led to Perth man Brett Peter Cowan's arrest and conviction, the Morcombes met Gerry and Kate McCann, the parents of toddler Madeleine, who vanished in Portugal in 2007.

"The conversation centred around comparing experiences with the media and the police," reveals a book the couple launched yesterday.

"They were so much in the same space that all four of them were wearing rubber wrist bands. Bruce and Denise took off their Daniel Morcombe Foundation bands and Kate and Gerry took theirs off, and they swapped them in a gesture of friendship and hope."

Less than three months later, on August 13, 2011, Cowan was arrested at the Glass House Mountains where he killed the 13-year-old and dumped his body.

The convicted child molester's arrest gave the Morcombe family the news they had been waiting to hear for more than eight years.

Cowan, who will serve at least 20 years of a life sentence, was convicted of murder after a Supreme Court trial in March. He was also found guilty of indecently dealing with a child under 13 and interfering with a corpse.

The trial revealed a sophisticated four-month sting for which covert WA operatives posed as a brothel madam, prostitute, corrupt police and crooked court, customs and port officials.

Cowan, who has a shocking history of abducting and molesting children, was enticed by the belief he was joining a powerful crime gang.

He eventually confessed to the murder and led WA police to the scene of his crime.

Yesterday, Mr Morcombe said he hoped others could draw strength from Where is Daniel?, co-written by the couple and author Lindsay Simpson.

Mr Morcombe said Cowan's conviction had brought profound and overwhelming relief.

He said the couple were blind-sided by the covert operation but understood the officers had put their lives on the line.

He said it was an extraordinary operation and they still struggled to believe it cracked the case.

The West Australian

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