Brett Cowan was caught on video confessing to killing Daniel Morcombe.
Brett Cowan was caught on video confessing to killing Daniel Morcombe.

Uncle who took in Brett Cowan says parole system to blame

A RETIRED church pastor who took Daniel Morcombe's killer into his home says the community has been let down by shocking failures in the parole system.

Keith Philbrook said he and his wife received a request from authorities to provide a home for their nephew Brett Peter Cowan in early 1998 as part of his early release from prison.

He said he attended a meeting with Brett, his parents and a prison psychologist where Cowan told of 'him digitally raping a young child in Darwin and leaving the child'.

But he said the family was never aware of the sordid details that have been made public in recent days.

"It was inferred to us that in providing a safe home for Brett to live at, we were not responsible for Brett and he was to report to his parole officer regularly,'' Mr Philbrook said in a statement released to APN.

"I was actually surprised at the casual attitude of this department as Brett didn't always attend and no check seemed to be made.''

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Mr Philbrook said he and his wife had only agreed to take Cowan in on the basis that he 'had or was in the process of completing the sexual offenders course, his attending of the Christian meetings, being eligible for parole and having been assessed by the authorities and considered suitable to be released into the community.''

"Maybe we were naïve in thinking that Brett was worth giving a second chance. All impressions were that he was clean (from drugs) and willing to respond to support.

"He attended church with us, as this was one of the requirements of his coming to us, and boundaries were placed around him and he was not to be around young children.

"He was very willing to help, which was his nature and became involved in the video/sound dept as he had some knowledge of IT from his time in prison, being able to build computers.

"Most of this was performed out in the main auditorium in full view of all.''

Mr Philbrook said after a period of time Cowan's behavior began to deteriorate at home, particularly after he had his own vehicle.

While still on parole, he was staying out late and going out at unusual times of night, using the excuse of catching up with mates or going fishing.

"After addressing him over some personal issues that were of great concern to us, including lying, our relationship began to become strained and eventually he moved out to his own flat and the rest is history,'' he said.

Mr Philbrook said he was concerned that unfair accusations were being levelled at Suncoast Christian Church for allowing him into the congregation.

"With the benefit of hindsight and much tighter controls on sex offenders, that would not have taken place back then,'' he said.

"What was put in place was probably considered normal safeguards for 1998.''

"Perhaps rather than pointing the finger at the church or an individual, who were acting in good faith at the time,  (take) a closer look at the system that allowed and seemed to encourage the release of a serial offender into the community.

"They knew much more of his offending history than we did, as much has only just been revealed since the jury found him guilty.

"We feel let down by the whole parole system. There did not seem to be any checking up on the parolee after he was released as at no time were we contacted about him.''

Discloure: Mark Furler, who has covered Daniel's story extensively including as editor in chief of the Sunshine Coast Daily, attended Suncoast Christian Church for numerous years. However, he never knew Cowan or any matters relating to him involving the church.

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