BRUCE and Denise Morcombe have relived the heartache of their son Daniel in waiting on a busy roadside for a bus that never arrived before he was allegedly abducted and murdered.
A series of witnesses, including passengers on the bus that did not stop for Daniel, gave evidence in the committal hearing in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday morning.
Rough, ratty and raggedy were among the words used to describe a man seen on the side of the road near Daniel.
Peter Murchie, from Landsborough, told Brisbane Magistrates Court he was travelling on a Sunbus from Nambour to the Sunshine Plaza on December 7, 2003, when he saw a boy trying to "wave the bus down" near the Kiel Mountain Rd overpass at Woombye.
He described seeing a skinny, scruffy and ratty-looking man with a beard who wore "dirty old clothes" with a suitcase.
"He was just standing there and he wasn't trying to wave the bus down and the kid was," he said.
Brett Peter Cowan, 43, stands accused of abducting and murdering Daniel, 13, that day and is facing a committal hearing in Brisbane.
Terry Theuerkauf, a Moranbah miner testifying from the town's police station, was 15 and living on the Sunshine Coast when he saw the boy he believed was Daniel and another man.
He too was travelling on the bus - with his sister and Mr Murchie - as it went along Nambour Connection Rd.
"I saw the young boy standing on the side of the road, waving a stick to stop the bus, and an older male leaning against a clay wall under the overpass," he said.
Mr Theuerkauf said he was having a laugh but his attention was drawn to the boy when his sister saw him trying to catch the bus.
"I looked back when we just passed him," he said.
"That's when I made my observations.
"(The man) had a goatee - moustache and hair around mouth and longer on the chin and rough around the sides but shorter."
Mr Theuerkauf said the "rough-looking bloke" had black, short hair on his head, a shirt with ripped-off sleeves, shorts and appeared to be in his 30s.
"He was leaning against the clay wall with his right foot up on the clay wall," he said.
Mr Theuerkauf tried to help police create a comfit picture of the man he saw but he could not complete it accurately and he did not want to give people "the wrong idea".
Katherine Bird told the court she saw a child waiting at the unofficial bus stop beneath the Kiel Mountain Rd overpass.
She said he was with a man sporting short, dark, sandy hair wearing a plain white t-shirt and blue denim shorts.
"(I saw) a child on the side of the road waiting for the bus and a man standing under the overpass against the pylon," she said.
"The child was on the side of the road flagging the bus."
Coolum's Abby North, who was the same age as Daniel when she saw him, said her memory was "stuck on that day".
She was a passenger on the bus when she saw a young boy and an older man.
Ms North said the man, who was standing with one leg up against a wall, was a few metres behind the boy.
She said the man was wearing a singlet and was "gaunt" with dark hair and a dark goatee.
Botanist Ralph Dowling also testified he had been asked about the vegetation, tree and ground coverage in 2003.
He said part from trees being taller, it would not have been much different when the the Glasshouse Mountains site was searched in 2011.
Speaking outside the court, Bruce Morcombe said it was hard for the family to hear the accounts again from those who saw Daniel.
"Clearly we relived feeling the heartache of Daniel waiting for the best part of 45 minutes for a bus.
"Finally one turns up and the damn thing doesn't stop,'' Mr Morcombe said.
"We are all standing here today wondering what the next minutes and hours presented to him,'' he said.
"None of this would have happened...
"But who knows if it was not Daniel maybe it would have been someone else.''
"We can't change what's happened.
"We live with the space we are in and just manage ourselves the best we can.''
Daniel was 13 when he tried to catch the 1.35pm bus to the Sunshine Plaza.
Witnesses reported seeing him around 2pm on the Nambour-Connection Rd under the overpass.
The bus he was supposed to catch had broken down a short distance from his stop, and was running behind schedule.
A replacement bus was sent out, but it didn't stop to pick the boy up, although the bus driver radioed his depot for another bus to collect Daniel.
When the second bus came a short time later, Daniel had disappeared.
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