Queensland schoolboy Daniel Morcombe’s parents have told the trial of his accused murderer they searched in vain for him when he first went missing.

More than 10 years after their son vanished, Bruce and Denise Morcombe were the first witnesses called in the trial of the man accused of killing 13-year-old Daniel.

Neither looked toward the prisoner’s dock where Brett Peter Cowan sat on Tuesday, accused of killing their son within an hour of abducting him from a Sunshine Coast bus stop.

Before a crowded Queensland Supreme Court courtroom that included their sons Dean and Bradley and more than a dozen supporters, Mr and Mrs Morcombe remained calm as they separately told how they took their car and searched fruitlessly for Daniel when he didn’t return home from a trip to buy them Christmas presents on December 7, 2003.

They spoke of a shy, polite boy who wouldn’t initiate contact with strangers and of their frantic search for their boy.

Mr Morcombe wore a red badge on his suit jacket while his wife wore red – the colour of the shirt Daniel was wearing when he disappeared, and which has become the colour of the couple’s Daniel Morcombe Foundation.

Mr Morcombe told the court Daniel had been told many times not to talk to strangers and wasn’t the type to get into cars with people he didn’t know.

“He was a very shy boy,” he said.

He said if someone tried to talk to Daniel, he would politely have nothing to do with them.

“He would never initiate conversation,” Mr Morcombe said.

Mrs and Mrs Morcombe were shown a photo of a muddy pair of shorts and both agreed they looked like Daniel’s.

Mr Morcombe said the pair drove to a number of places including the local shopping centre when Daniel hadn’t returned home by 5.30pm, when the last bus was due.

At 7.30pm they contacted local police to report Daniel missing.

Asked by Crown Prosecutor Michael Byrne QC whether he’d ever heard from Daniel again, Mr Morcombe replied: “Not in any way shape or form, no”.