THE first court appearance of a man accused of murdering and sexually abusing Daniel Morcombe almost went ahead as a mere administrative formality.
But Chief Magistrate Brendan Butler asked for the 41-year-old man, who has long been a person of interest in the 13-year-old’s disappearance in 2003, to be brought into courtroom three at Brisbane Magistrates Court.
As the clock struck 9am, the former tow truck driver entered the prisoner’s dock wearing a prison brown windcheater and blue jeans.
The gaze from his expressionless face was directed at the ground.
During a coronial inquest earlier this year, the accused man had his hair straightened in an attempt to avoid being recognised.
Although a suppression order prevents his identification, he told Morcombe family lawyer Peter Boyce he was worried media sketch artists would draw his pony tail.
“I know my face is blocked out but they might recognise my hair and pony tail,” he told the inquest.
There was no pony tail yesterday. His was hair was straggly, not straightened.
The man has been charged with murder, deprivation of liberty, child stealing, indecent treatment of a child and interfering with a corpse.
The case was adjourned to the new magistrates courthouse, a few blocks away, on September 26.
Outside court, lawyer Tim Meehan said he could not reveal why his client had returned to Queensland from Western Australia, where he lives now.
He said his client would defend the charges against him and would apply for bail in the Supreme Court.
“I do hold instructions to make application for bail ... when we’ve undertaken all the necessary work to be prepared properly for that,” Mr Meehan said.
“Under the circumstances, he is doing all right.”
When asked about extra security for his client in custody, Mr Meehan said watchhouse keepers and prison management at Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre would make those decisions.
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