The jury in the trial of Daniel Morcombe’s accused killer has been warned that his decision not to testify shouldn’t influence their verdict.
A Supreme Court judge has told jurors in the trial of Daniel Morcombe’s accused killer that his decision not to testify proves nothing.
Brett Peter Cowan, 44, has pleaded not guilty to murdering and abducting the Sunshine Coast schoolboy on December 7, 2003.
Cowan has chosen not to take the stand during his trial, which is drawing to a close in Brisbane’s Supreme Court after four weeks of evidence.
Justice Roslyn Atkinson on Tuesday warned jurors against letting his decision influence their verdict.
“The fact that he did not give evidence is not evidence against him,” she told jurors, adding Cowan was not bound to give or call evidence.
“It doesn’t constitute an admission of guilt by the conduct and it can’t be used to fill any gaps in the evidence led by the prosecution.
“It proves nothing at all”.
In her summing up, Justice Atkinson also urged jurors to rely solely on the facts and to ignore media reports when assessing whether Cowan was guilty.
Prosecutors say Cowan’s confessions about abducting and killing the boy are so compelling they leave no doubt to his guilt.
In video and audio recordings of a 2011 confession played to the jury, Cowan says: “yeah ok … yeah I did it”.
“He panicked and I panicked and grabbed him around the throat and before I knew it he was dead.”
But defence barrister Angus Edwards says Cowan had falsely confessed to powerful gang members, who were really undercover police, in bid to prove himself so he could join the gang and make millions.
Mr Edwards said it was obvious Cowan lied because he didn’t have time to do all the things he said he did to Daniel and had got a lot of things wrong, like the exact location of Daniel’s remains.
He said the only reason his client knew roughly where the remains were was because a friend of convicted pedophile Douglas Jackway had told him.
Mr Edwards said Jackway had driven a boxy blue car like the one many witnesses saw at the scene of Daniel’s abduction.
Jackway was convicted of the brutal sexual assault of a boy and had been released from prison one month before Daniel vanished, the court heard.
“For a fellow like him to have been driving down that stretch of road and to have driven past Daniel Morcombe would have been like a snake going past a wounded mouse,” Mr Edwards said.
But the prosecution says suggestions of Jackway’s involvement is a distraction because there is no evidence placing him at the scene of Daniel’s abduction.
Jackway angrily denied discussing Daniel Morcombe with a fellow prison inmate in 2006 when he testified as a witness in the trial.
Justice Atkinson told jurors that just because Jackway has previous convictions doesn’t mean he is lying in this case.
The trial continues.