Witnesses recount seeing Daniel before disappearance

TWO teenage girls saw a gaunt man leaning against the embankment under the Kiel Mountain overpass, just metres from a young boy in a red t-shirt, the day Daniel Morcombe went missing.

The girls, now in their 20s, told Brisbane Supreme Court how they were on the bus that Daniel, 13, was waiting for but it just drove straight past him.

The court has heard how a bus had broken down just before reaching the unofficial bus stop where Daniel stood and the replacement bus that passed him was told to head express to Sunshine Plaza

Fiona Crystal Theuerkauf said she saw a "little boy in a red shirt" on the side of the road "waving a stick around" with one hand and trying to wave down the bus with the other.

Ms Theuerkauf said she saw the bus driver make a motion with his thumb back over his shoulder to let the boy know they were passing but there would be another bus on the way.

She said she then turned her attention back to the boy.

"I had seen a male standing some distance behind him," she said.

"I know he had long hair, a goatee, indented cheeks, he was wearing faded jeans, maybe a shirt and singlet, had a tattoo on his (upper left) arm … a black one.

"I know he had a bag on the ground on the bag next to him. Dark sunglasses.

"He was sort of (leaning) back, left leg lifted and bent, arm straight down by side. (Foot) against the back wall."

Ms Theuerkauf said she did not see any other people or vehicles nearby.

Abby Lee North, who was travelling with Ms Theuerkauf, described seeing the boy with a red shirt, dark hair, who was her age or younger, a few metres from a "gaunt" man with "prominent eyebrows".

"I saw a little boy and a man up against the wall," she said.

"I just remember him playing with a stick."

Ms North, who was the same age as Daniel at the time, said she saw the bus driver make a hand gesture and mouth words to the boy but she could not remember the movement now.

She said there was a man standing up against a "dirt wall", pointing a distance estimated to be about 6m in the courtroom.

"All I can remember is a gaunt face and really prominent eyebrows," she said.

"Just leaning with one leg up and leaning back because it was on a slope."

Ms North said she did not see any interaction between the man and the boy.

She said she did not see any other cars near the overpass.

They both provided descriptions to sketch artists.

A third teen, Jessiah Daniel Cocks, saw a boy in a red shirt sitting "on his haunches" on the embankment when he and his mother drove past.

"I'm not sure if he was climbing down the embankment or just playing, sitting there," he said.

"He was on the north side - same side as church - traffic travelling away from Nambour.

Mr Cocks, who was 17 at the time, said he recalled seeing a white four-wheel-drive "50-100m towards Nambour after the overpass".

He said he thought it was a 1990s Landcruiser with "quite rigid angles" that "may have had a black snorkel".

Brett Peter Cowan, who is accused of murdering Daniel, was driving a white four-wheel-drive Pajero at the time.


Animal experts create grim picture of how Daniel Morcombe disappeared

STORIES from animal experts about packs of wild dogs roaming the Sunshine Coast hunting and scavenging for food have painted a grim picture of how Daniel Morcombe disappeared.

Two wild animal experts confirmed large populations of wild dogs frequented the Glasshouse Mountains area where Daniel's body was dumped 10 years ago.

Seventeen bones, which DNA evidence has linked to Daniel Morcombe, were found 50-75m from where accused murderer Brett Peter Cowan said he left Daniel.

The Crown says wild dogs provide an explanation for that.

Daniel's mother Denise Morcombe had left the courtroom before the gruesome evidence unfolded in Brisbane on Monday but his father Bruce remained.

Mark Goullet, from Ferals Out pest control, described how a council worker dived into a motorist's open window to escape a dingo in the area because he felt threatened to within "an inch of his life".

He said no matter the time of day, especially at Glasshouse Mountains and Beerwah, there were dingoes walking the streets.

Mr Goullet said he had no doubt they would have been in the area where Daniel's remains were found at Kings Road.

He said a carcass also could attract birds of prey such as wedge-tailed eagles but also small birds like kites or crows, as well as foxes or feral pigs.

Toowoomba zoologist Lee Allen, who has worked with Biosecurity Queensland and its former departments for more than 30 years, said he had been involved with satellite tracking of more than 100 wild dogs, mostly dingoes, in the Sunshine Coast area since 2003.

Mr Allen said stable wild dog packs tended to stay in a 20sq km range where they defended their territory but satellite tracking showed their offspring could move more than 500km away in 30 days when they became indepedent.

"Wild dogs could smell a carcass or food like that probably half a kilometre or even further in a forest situation, particularly those young dogs when they're starting to become independent," he said.

"They would scavenge as a group on a carcass, they fight and squabble as they do.

"Normally what you find is the carcass is pulled apart; limbs carted off in different directions so they can eat in peace from their siblings and rivals.

"They can be up to several 100 yards potentially but usually you'd expect over a space of days 10 to 50m apart."


Patterns on shoes match shoes from Daniel Morcombe's bedroom

WEAR patterns on size eight Globe skate shoes found at a Glasshouse Mountains search site match shoes from Daniel Morcombe's bedroom.

Podiatrist Paul John Bennett said he compared the "crime scene" shoes with black Clarks brand school shoes and an old size seven pair of Globe skate shoes that Daniel's parents had provided.

Mr Bennett told Brisbane Supreme Court his expertise was in studying the movements and motion of human feet, assessing gait cycles and how an individual's characteristics might affect footwear.

"Effectively the kinds of comparisons you are looking for are consistencies in the way footwear might wear out," he said.

Mr Bennett said looked at wear patterns - their locations, magnitudes and orientations - to form an opinion on the way an individual moved.

He concluded the same wear angles had formed on all three pairs of shoes, which meant the same movement led to the footwear wearing in that way.

Mr Bennett said he believed the Globe shoes found at the search site belonged to a person roughly 12 to 13 years of age.

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