Should Daniel's murder have been an open and shut case?
BOTH predators brazenly snatched children in public in daylight.
Both enticed those children away for sexual abuse and used violence to get their way.
They horrifically changed children's lives forever.
Brett Peter Cowan and Douglas Brian Jackway both spent time in jail after they were caught.
Yet the six men and six women tasked with deciding Cowan's guilt in the Daniel Morcombe murder trial were told just half the story.
Jackway was forced to step through everything he did to a little boy near Gladstone in 1995 and admit he had been convicted of raping his sister when she was nine years of age and he a teen.
"Who's on trial here? Am I on trial?" he questioned while in the witness box.
"What's this got to do with this court case?"
Did he have a point?
How could Jackway's criminal history be vented in excruciating detail when Cowan's was kept completely under wraps?
Would it have been fairer for both criminal histories to be aired in full or both kept secret?
Queensland Council for Civil Liberties president Michael Cope said he could understand why people might be confused, but a person's criminal history must be excluded to promote a fair trial.
He said the legal system generally precluded any character evidence because there was a danger the jury would not focus on the facts of the case.
"It is to avoid the possibility the jury will look at a person's history such as his and conclude, just on the basis that he has a horrible criminal history, he must have done it again," he said.
Mr Cope said he could not see how Cowan's defence case could have been run any differently, labelling the outcome - one history being revealed and the other kept secret - as a "by-product of the system".
David Field, an associate professor of law at Bond University, agreed it was a necessary evil.
He said it was not unheard of to point the finger at another person to distract jurors.
"The more frequent use of that tactic is where the person you're slagging is now dead, especially in a murder trial," he said. "They might argue he made homosexual advances, or something, but he can't fight back.
"This one was a bit more blatant because the person he was pointing the finger at was still alive. If you give evidence that maligns the character of a prosecution witness, that opens it up for (the accused to have his aired).
"If you fling mud you've got accept it back, better than the person you're accusing.
"But that can only be done through cross-examination, so if you keep your client out of the witness box (you can avoid it).
"Obviously (Cowan's barrister) Angus Edwards is sufficiently experienced not to make that mistake."
Mr Field, who specialises in criminal law and evidence, said he understood it might seem unfair that Jackway's history could be aired while Cowan kept his "dirty linen out of the nose of the jury".
But the argument both their histories should have been revealed or both kept secret just did not fit with Australia's common law system rules that were established in 1894.
"I can see the justice and morality of that suggestion but not legally," he said.
"Imagine the jury is sitting there on a knifepoint, 'is he guilty or isn't he?" ... and you suddenly throw in that he's done this before. You can imagine the impact that would have.
"I think it's very much in everyone's interest to preserve that rule to ensure a jury decides the case on the facts."
Mr Field said there was a High Court authority allowing criminal histories to be revealed in extreme cases.
"You're only allowed to produce that sort of evidence where there is such a similarity in the way it was done before," he said.
"I don't know the background in this case. If he had abducted boys from bus stops, that might have made a difference. I don't know."
Prosecutors had sought to have Cowan's history put before the jury during a pre-trial hearing in November.
They argued the history could establish Cowan had a propensity to entice away young boys for sexual purposes, and to resort to threats and violence to achieve his desires and to ensure his crimes were not revealed. They submitted the similarities would show it could not have been anyone other than Cowan who abducted Daniel.
Cowan's defence team argued the recollections of Cowan's first two victims had changed, with their 2011 statements involving much more violence than previously alleged.
They also pointed to other people with child sex offending, such as Jackway, who could have been on the Sunshine Coast at the right time.
Justice Roslyn Atkinson ruled the confession admissible but the history showing similar evidence was not.
She said the question of admissibility was finely balanced but she feared the material would be too prejudicial.
"There are undoubtedly similarities in the offending as accepted by the defence in the submission referred to in each of these reasons," she said.
"In my view the evidence is not so strikingly similar that there is no reasonable view of the evidence of his offending against two younger boys other than as supporting an inference that he is the one who abducted and then killed Daniel Morcombe."