Daniel Mor­combe will never be for­got­ten

The mur­dered school­boy left a huge hole in the na­tion’s heart

Woman’s Day (Australia) - - Contents -

With his big eyes shin­ing with ex­cite­ment and $150 earned from fruit pick­ing in his pocket, 13-year-old Daniel Mor­combe set off from home to catch a bus into town to get a hair­cut and buy Christ­mas presents for his fam­ily.

He never got to buy those gifts be­cause he was killed that day. It was De­cem­ber 7, 2003, 12 days be­fore his 14th birth­day.

His twin brother Bradley re­grets not go­ing with him. His heart­bro­ken mum Denise ad­mits it de­stroyed their fam­ily. His dad Bruce never stops cam­paign­ing to pro­tect other par­ents’ vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren. And not a day goes by when they all don’t re­mem­ber and miss Daniel, who would have turned 29 in three weeks time.

The 15 years since Daniel was snatched by se­rial child rapist and fa­ther-of-three Brett Peter Cowan have been a tor­ment for the Mor­combe fam­ily, with their dev­as­tat­ing loss mark­ing even the hap­pi­est of fam­ily oc­ca­sions with sad­ness and re­gret.

When Daniel’s big brother Dean mar­ried his part­ner Al­ice in Septem­ber, it was a joy­ous mo­ment, yet Daniel’s loss was felt. Denise posted a beau­ti­ful shot of Dean, Daniel and Bradley play­ing in the snow as chil­dren.

“My boys are now grown up or gone. En­joy time with them,” Denise tweeted in a touch­ing tribute.

WORST NIGHT­MARE

When Bradley and his wife Anna an­nounced the birth of their first child in 2016, they called their son Win­ston Daniel Ge­orge Mor­combe, and Denise felt her loss even more.

‘No­body will ever know the love I felt for Daniel’

“There’s al­ways so much hope and prom­ise around the birth of a baby,” she said at the time.

From the mo­ment Daniel van­ished, in what has to be any par­ent’s worst night­mare, the Mor­combes’ plight touched peo­ple around the world.

The na­tion prayed when Denise broke down, say­ing, “I just want him to come home – we want Daniel back”. back .

But that was not to be, and af­ter what be­came the big­gest in­ves­ti­ga­tion in Queens­land’s his­tory, with the post­ing of an un­prece­dented $1 mil­lion re­ward and a coro­nial in­quest, the fam­ily’s heart­break­ing search came to a tragic end. Cowan con­fessed to un­der­cover de­tec­tives to stran­gling Daniel af­ter kid­nap­ping and sex­u­ally as­sault­ing him.

Denise told just how de­struc­tive “evil, evil, in­hu­man thing” Cowan’s mur­der of Daniel had been.

“You are a per­verted soul and didn’t re­alise that his mother would never give up search­ing for an­swers and how much I loved him,” Denise ex­plained in her vic­tim im­pact state­ment to the court af­ter Cowan was found guilty of mur­der­ing Daniel.

The fam­ily were fi­nally able to bury the son who was so cru­elly taken af­ter two shoes be­long­ing to Daniel and 17 of his bones, in­clud­ing a rib, hip, leg, arm and ver­te­brae, were found at Glass House Moun­tains in Au­gust 2011.

More than 2000 peo­ple at­tended Daniel’s funeral at Siena Catholic Col­lege on De­cem­ber 7, 2012 – nine years af­ter his dis­ap­pear­ance.

AN IN­NO­CENT LIFE

“No­body will ever know the love I felt for Daniel,” Denise said in the im­pact state­ment. “He was an in­no­cent boy, start­ing to grow up and learn about life. He was gen­tle, he loved an­i­mals and wanted to be a vet. He would never hurt a soul. He was scared of the dark and of­ten slept on the floor next to me.”

Bruce told the court Cowan “ripped our fam­ily apart”.

Cowan is serv­ing a life sen­tence in Bris­bane’s Wol­ston Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre, where he has been the sub­ject of at­tacks from fel­low pris­on­ers.

Daniel’s fam­ily es­tab­lished the Daniel Mor­combe Foun­da­tion in 2005 to ed­u­cate chil­dren about per­sonal safety and to raise aware­ness about the dan­gers of preda­tory crim­i­nals. They are ded­i­cated to in­spir­ing com­mu­ni­ties around the coun­try to keep chil­dren safe.

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