Daniel Morcombe's killer should serve more than 20 years, says judge

The paedophile found guilty of murdering schoolboy Daniel Morcombe has been sentenced to life in prison, with a non-parole period of 20 years.

Daniel's parents Bruce and Denise Morcombe, and his brothers Dean and Bradley, were at an annual golf charity day for the Daniel Morcombe Foundation when judge Roslyn Atkinson sentenced father-of-three Brett Peter Cowan, 44, on Friday.

''In view of criminal histories and the enormity of the crime that you have committed it is appropriate in my view to set the parole eligibility date after you have served 20 years of your sentence,'' Justice Atkinson said.

''I am not of the view that you should be released in 20 years' time … That is not in my control.''

For the charge of indecently dealing with a child under 16, Cowan was sentenced to 3½ years' imprisonment. For the charge of improperly interfering with a corpse, he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment. Those terms will be served concurrently.

Justice Atkinson warned any parole applications after Cowan has served 20 years should be treated with caution.

''Whenever anyone is considering the prospect of granting you parole they should mark my words: that you are a convincing, plausible and adaptive liar,'' she said.

The Queensland government increased the minimum non-parole period for murder from 15 to 20 years in August 2012. Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said he would review the sentence and seek advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions about a possible appeal.

Justice Atkinson said Cowan looked like an ordinary person, not a monster, when he opportunistically offered Daniel a lift when the schoolboy had been waiting for a bus on the Sunshine Coast on December 7, 2003.

''Everything about what you did to that child was horrific and disgraceful,'' she told Cowan. ''This is not just a murder, but a terrible murder. It has had widespread and shocking impacts.''

She spoke about Cowan's ''apparently normal upbringing''.

''But you have committed terrible crimes throughout your life … escalating in your offending,'' she said.

Cowan was convicted of a sex attack on a boy in Brisbane in 1987 and another on a boy in Darwin in 1993.

The Crown argued that he should be jailed without parole for longer than the mandatory minimum 15 years.

The sting in a tale of horror

-News Review, Page 38

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