Reporting restricted on Morcombe trial

Bruce and Denise Morcombe will have their own private room away from the glare of the media to watch the long and complex criminal trial of the man accused of abducting and murdering their son.


The media has closely followed the Daniel Morcombe story since the 13-year-old went missing while waiting for a bus on the Sunshine Coast in December 2003.

But reporters will be limited in what they can say about a pre-trial hearing due to start in Brisbane on Wednesday.

In a directions hearing on Tuesday, Justice Roslyn Atkinson warned media about the difficulty of reporting on the pre-trial hearing, which could involve up to 12 witnesses.

It will hear arguments about evidence which could be presented at the trial of Daniel’s accused abductor and murder, Brett Peter Cowan, which is set down for February.

Justice Atkinson says any inadmissible evidence published would adversely impact the trial.

“That effects the capacity of the court to give a trial to the defendant which of course would be damaging to everyone,” she explained.

Justice Atkinson will on Wednesday decide whether any non-publication orders will be imposed for the pre-trial.

The level of publicity surrounding the case is such that potential jurors could be questioned in an attempt to eliminate any who may be prejudiced by pre-trial publicity.

During the trial, selected jurors may visit the bushland site where Daniel’s remains were found.

Justice Atkinson said the trial would be a trying time for the Morcombe family.

She warned media to respect their privacy and to steer clear of the room set aside for their private use to view the trial.

After an exhaustive search, Daniel’s remains and his shoes were found in bushland at Beerwah in August and September 2011, not long after Cowan was charged.

The Morcombe family was finally able to lay him to rest in December last year.