Daniel Morcombe.
Daniel Morcombe.

Morcombes relieved about hearing

THE Morcombe family is relieved a committal hearing for Daniel's accused murderer has been listed before the end of the year.

Bruce and Denise Morcombe, who were travelling between Barcaldine and Charter Towers on their tour as child safety ambassadors when they learned the hearing had been set for November 26, said they had hoped the case against Brett Peter Cowan would progress to the next stage but had feared it would be pushed into 2013.

"We always wanted the committal to move along in a timely fashion and we just wanted it sooner rather than later," he said.

"We're looking forward to the end of November when the committal kicks off."

Cowan was charged last year with the 13-year-old's abduction and murder on December 7, 2003.

The Palmwoods teen went missing while waiting for a bus at Woombye on the Sunshine Coast.

His remains was found buried in the Glasshouse Mountains in August last year Chief Magistrate Judge Brendan Butler set the committal date yesterday after hearing lengthy legal argument over 20 witnesses Cowan's defence team wants to cross-examine.

The Crown had consented to more than 30 witnesses being questioned at the committal hearing but argued against the remaining 20.

Lawyer Michael Bosscher told the court he needed to cross-examine people who claimed they saw Daniel Morcombe at the abduction site about whether they had undergone hypnosis or regression therapy.

He said he also needed to know what photo boards of police persons of interest they had seen and whether they identified anyone.

Mr Bosscher said it was important to cross-examine those witnesses to test their memories, their reliability and other issues not "adequately" covered during an inquest in 2010 into the boy's death.

He said some of the witness statements were in "stark contrast" to Cowan's alleged admissions about the crime.

"The defence position will be the person they saw was not Mr Cowan," he said.

"This is not simply a housekeeping matter ... (this is) in the interests of justice."

Mr Bosscher said the Crown case could be broken into several "buckets of evidence" - abduction site witnesses, police officers, coronial inquest transcripts, and scientific material before and after Cowan's arrest.

He said there was also the police case relating to Cowan before and after he gave evidence at the coronial inquest and admissions Cowan allegedly made.

Crown prosecutor Glen Cash said now that he was aware photo boards were an issue he would provide them but he noted "universally" witnesses who did see a photo board did not identify anyone.

He said the Crown had kept some matters to itself as a matter of "privilege", but had otherwise disclosed nearly everything defence had asked for.

"What must be disclosed has been disclosed," he said.

The court was closed when lawyers debated whether three police officers involved in the Cowan investigation should be cross-examined.

Judge Butler will deliver a decision on the witnesses on September 14.



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