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Sky News Documentary Dec 24th.
The Madeleine McCann mystery. Year in review 2007. By Martin Brunt.


(MB) The two options: she came to harm at the hands of some member of the family or the friends, or that is was some peadophile who happened to be passing by…
(Expert) “.. are both really really unlikely, but we know she’s gone.
(MB) The mystery of Madeleine McCann became the biggest, or at least the most enduring, news story of the year. Eight months on, detectives still don’t know if Madeleine is dead or alive.
What makes the case so perplexing is the lack of any trail of evidence beyond this point: the apartment in Praia da Luz, rented by the McCanns for an early summer break.
Like many holiday resorts, by day Luz is bright, whitewashed and family friendly. But at night, outside of the peak season, it becomes a more chilly, eerie place. One of deserted streets, empty promenades, dark corners and shuttered windows.
It was on such a night, on the 3rd of may, that Madeleine was left sleeping while her parents went to dine at the near by tapas bar. At ten o’clock, when Kate McCann went to check on the children, Madeleine had vanished.
This apartment is just a few yards from the McCann’s. It doesn’t go right onto the road but in all other detail it’s exactly the same. On the night, the shutter was up, the patio door was closed but it was unlocked. Easy for the McCanns to get in to check on the children. Just as easy for an abductor to get in and out.
The tapas bar is over there. The view from there to here is not a good one, it’s partially obscured and ofcourse at the time, it was dark.
In here, the lounge, in the corner a small kitchen. That’s the front door to the apartment, and in here the parent’s bedroom, with the views over the tapas bar and the sea beyond. And furthest away, the children’s bedroom. According to Gerry McCann, when he checked on the children, the door was slightly ajar. He thought that was odd. He believes the abductor was already hiding in here, when he came in.
When Kate McCann checked later, she said the twins were still asleep and Madeleine had gone.
It’s now generally accepted that the police investigation got off to a slow start. There was no real sense of urgency. The first police officer on the scene refused to accept the McCann’s view that Madeleine had been abducted.

In fact, a witness here overheard him telling her parents: “She can’t have been kidnapped, she must have simply woken up and wandered off.”
That night, the search fell mostly to a volunteer force of holiday makers and expats, like Claire Gelsdorp.
(MB) You were searching the beach, these built up areas, and here, this is very different isn’t it, I mean there are lots of areas like this, what was the scene here at three o’clock in the morning, that night?
(CG) It was dark, nobody around, just us who were searching and then we stopped, looked around and said ‘right, where should we go now?’ cause we had been everywhere and didn’t know where to go.
(MB) How many of you were here?
(CG) Probably about twenty of us.
(MB) And how many torches would you have had?
(CG) About two or three.
(MB) I don’t suppose you could see very far..
(CG) Nooo there …. much light here at all.
(MB) There must been hundreds of these bins here around Luz.
(CG) There is. There were bins we looked in to.
(MB) When you were looking in a bin, were you … did you think you’d find a child hiding, or a child that had been killed?
(CG) You’d think about anything, a child dumped in a bin or .. a child would never hide in a bin, so .. we were thinking about someone chucking a child into a bin.
(MB) Even at that stage, you were already thinking of the possibility..
(CG) Yeh
(MB) that Madeleine had been killed.
(CG) Yeh.
At 4.30 a.m. the search was called off. The bins were still collected as usual, and dumped at a near by rubbish tip.

The police insistence that Madeleine had wandered compromised the investigation from the start.
Tony Rogers is one of Britain’s most experienced detectives. He helped solve the Soham school girl murders. Today he helps police forces review unsolved crimes.
(TR) The child had been missing for .. at a very young age, very vulnerable, it’s late at night. The chances of that person wandering off diminishes as a few hours go by.
(MB) The detectives failure to treat Madeleine’s disappearance as a crime was to rebound on them. Because they did not immediately seal off the apartment. Because they allowed evidence to be contaminated by people traipsing in and out. Because they did not properly interrogate Kate and Gerry McCann.
Incredibly, after six weeks, the apartment was returned to the owner, and re-let twice. And even today, a low gate with a flimsy chain is all that guards the still vital crime scene.
(DB) I’m disappointed that the apartment wasn’t kept. I honestly think in the UK, with a bit of luck, we would have done it very differently.
David Barclay is one of Britain’s top forensic consultants, involved in many cold case reviews.
(DB) I’ve been involved in cases in which a murder a murder has happened in a house and the police have actually bought the house so they could keep the house until after the trial. And in at least one of those cases we went back and re-examined the crime scene after a year, because we thought something had changed about our interpretation. And we were able to find cast off blood on the ceiling in one of the bedrooms that had never been spotted before. By working out what must have happened and then looking for confirmation on the roof.
(MB) Right from the start the McCanns insisted their daughter had been abducted and they have clung to that belief ever since. But how could an abductor get in to the apartment?
(DB) There are two methods of getting in to that apartment. One is through the window at the back overlooking the car park, and I think it is impossible for somebody to get in and out through that window without leaving forensic traces. Apart from anything else, the window sills in that area are covered in green lichen. The minute you try and scrape over the window sill you would have left marks, and we know that the scenes of crime lady the next morning was looking for exactly that.
But the sliding door was left open, unsecured. It was possible for the McCanns and their friends to go inside and check on the kids but it was possible for somebody else to go up the little stairs to the back, open …, take Madeleine out, asleep, and leave.
Not without leaving any trace, but without leaving any traces that have been found. That’s one of the area’s that doesn’t seem to have been examined. In the UK we always look at, not the crime scene, but methods of ingress and egress from, how you get into and out from the crime scene.
(MB) What makes the case so mysterious, is that as far as we know, the police have no firm evidence of an abduction.
We have been told that a part of the investigation centers on a bag that went missing from the apartment. A blue holdall type tennis bag belonging to Gerry McCann. He’d been playing tennis at the complex in the hours before Madeleine disappeared.
(™) It was a bag of a size that could be taken away from the flat .. a child, that would be of great interest to the investigating officers.
(MB) Police do have a witness. Jane Tanner, one of seven friends holidaying with the McCanns. She said she saw a man carrying a child near the apartment, 45 minutes or so before Madeleine was reported missing. But her discription was remarkably vague. She wasn’t even sure at first the man was carrying a child, and police considered her an unreliable witness.
Six months later, Ms. Tanner helped produce another drawing of the suspect, more detailed, even down to the pattern on the child’s pyamas that seemed to match Madeleine’s.
But stranger still has been the case of Robert Murat. Twelve days after Madeleine disappeared police made him an arguido, a formal suspect. He insists he was at home all night with his mother, at their villa a 100 yards from the McCann’s apartment.
But three people claim he was out searching the night Madeleine vanished. He admits helping search and translate for detectives early next morning. This is mr. Murat directing police near the McCann’s apartment.
(SE ) All the people that know Robert, that were out on that night, that own bars, restaurants, businesses, that closed them all up to go and search for Madeleine, were interviewed and questioned by the police and they all didn’t see him. Ofcourse they didn’t see him, he wasn’t there.
But three complete strangers who never met him before say that they saw him, in the dark, with his dodgy eye, which actually is a detached retina, it is not a glass eye by the way. I can’t understand that. That question has to be answered.
(MB) And those three people are …?
(SE) The friends of the McCanns.
(MB) In a remarkable tactic, the detectives later invited the three friends back to the Portimao police station, where they identified Murat.
It is thought the police have no forensic evidence linking Murat to Madeleine’s disappearance.
So who else could have taken her?
(..) Abduction for sexual purposes of children … 8, 9, 10 year olds. It is really really unusual to want them to take a child of three and a half. It would be somebody overcome by the urge at that time. I mean how often can you do that and get away with it? There are no people in Praia da Luz who got that sort of history. I mean they have been all looked at. They didn’t check up on the other people staying in the apartments. I can imagine that if you were a peadophile, one of the things you might do is actually go on holidays at that time of year, where you got small kids playing in the swimming pool and stuff like that.
(MB) Police investigated 52 British sex offenders with links to the Algarve. One is still a potential suspect. The fact is that if someone had wanted to take Madeleine, the dark streets and car park around the apartment would provide perfect cover. And there are numerous escape routes out of town.
If she’d been taken and killed, the hinterland north of the Algarve offers countless places to hide a body. It’s a vast mix of rolling hills and mountains, often dense forest and desolate scrub, dotted with thousands of disused wells and long abandoned farm buildings. It’s an almost impossible task. If Madeleine is out there, will she ever be found?
That’s a devastating thought for her parents. But detectives were exploring another, more chilling theory.
- end of part one –

In september, the investigation took a dramatic turn. Kate and Gerry McCann were called in for more questioning and then made arguidos.
Detectives accused Ms. McCann of being involved in Madeleine’s accidental death. Suddenly, people in Portugal and in the UK began to question their sympathy for the couple.
(Paul Luckman) And then we started to think the unthinkable. You know nobody wants to think that. Nobody wants to think that this charming couple, professionals, they are both doctors, articulate and well presented … is it possible they were involved?
That’s not … even now, people don’t want to think that, but … why did they leave those children alone? What happened that night? What was going on?
(MB) It’s a fact that continues to influence public opinion, which is often hostile to the McCanns. How could they leave their three young children alone, while they wined and dined nearby?
I’m in the tapas bar. I’m sitting at the table where the McCanns and their friends were eating on the night that Madeleine disappeared. This place is shut now for the winter. The apartment is some distance away. It’s beyond the swimming pool, there is a wall and a hedge and behind that is a path.
It would be very difficult from here to see anybody going in and out of the apartment. Going to check on the kids wasn’t easy.
(Gerry McCann) I think if you know the location here, which you have seen, and what we did .. and I think … and we’ve been reassured by the fact that thousands of messages from people who have either done exactly the same or said they would have done the same, for us it really wasn’t very much different to having dinner in your garden. And the proximity of the location I thinks it is fair to say that .. sigh .. you know .. that we feel, having not been there, at that moment, will never leave us.
(MB) Many consider mr. McCanns analogy unconvincing. And a neighbor said that on a previous night, she heard Madeleine wake up and cry for her parents for two hours.
Well, eighty paces is as far as the gate. The distance between the tapas bar and the apartment not quite as Gerry McCann described it.
We have established that the apartment is owned by a woman called Ruth McCann, a teacher from Liverpool. She and Kate and Gerry say they are not related and the name is purely a coincidence. But it is enough to add one more conspiracy theory to the thousands that continue to circulate.

Portugese police sources say that potentially crucial evidence against the McCanns is forensic. Madeleine’s blood found in the apartment.
(DB) If you find a small amount of blood from Madeleine in that apartment it really means very little, because she is supposed to be in there. Children fall over and cut themselves all the time.
One of the things you would be looking for would be signs that things had been cleaned up. That hadn’t been told you by the parents. Wheather is was the McCanns or any other crime like this. You look for things that don’t fit, anomalies in the story they told you and the results you get.
(MB) More crucial perhaps is what is said to have been found in the McCanns hire car. Rented 25 days after Madeleine’s disappearance. Police sources described blood traces, hair and bodily fluid and one complete match to Madeleine’s DNA. Evidence, police say, of the girl’s body in the car.
(DB) I guess that’s a theory that’s necessary, because of the alleged findings of blood, body fluids and hair from Madeleine in that hire car. It’s those findings that I, like all forensic scientist, when they came out, said WHAT? That does not make sense. And it still doesn’t.
Because the only explanation can be that the body’s been kept somewhere for that length of time. It seems very … a strange thing to do and very unlikely, uummm, that you’d manage, with all the publicity, that you would actually manage to do that. And it is really .. unpleasant to have to move a body, any body, after that length of time. It is an explanation that is the only one that adequately explains those findings, if they are correct.
Astonishingly, having established the hire car as a potential crime scene, the police gave it back to the McCanns. The couple even drove it to the police station when they were declared suspects.
The McCanns say their own expert’s tests on the vehicle found no traces of Madeleine. Any DNA in the boot may have come from the twin’s soiled nappies and Madeleine’s sandals when they moved apartments.
We’ve since established that the car was returned to the hire company and then handed back to it’s suppliers, Renault. The vehicle could still hold vital clues, yet it ended up in a second hand car lot near Lisbon.
Less tangible evidence is the so called scent of death around Kate McCann’s clothes, said to have been detected by sniffer dogs from the UK. Mick Swindells is one of Britain’s leading dog handlers.
(MS) The best way to describe it is if you have a fragrant soap, you can smell it but there is nothing physical coming between the soap and your nose, it’s just scent. For when it is something non tangible, it’s very difficult for humans to comprehend it. One thing we do have, though, is that the dog does not have the ability to lie. It cannot lie. The dog is not … they don’t know about lying. So if a dog does indicate, then it generaly believes that yes, there is something there.
(MB) Sometimes the McCanns own behaviour has fueled suspicion.
(DB) I understand the police did ask .. CuddleCat if it had been washed. We all find that very strange. Why would you wash CuddleCat, it’s the last thing .. your daughter’s favorite possession, it’s still got the scent of your daughter on it, it must have. The idea that it got grubby and you put it in the washing machine, fairly late on in the investigation, strikes me as being bizarre.
(MB) It’s always been a difficult story for reporters to follow. Police use the Portugese secrecy law to avoid any official comment, but leak the most scurrilous stories to the local newspapers.
(Haynes Hubbard) I mean the … of the story have … the facts that there is a little girl missing and her parents are waiting for her to come home. Nothing’s changed in that regard and the ups and downs and the media obviously have played a … role in this and the sensationalism and sensationalising of the whole thing has certainly affected many people’s opinion but hasn’t really affected ours. I mean to some degree I try not to listen.
(MB) The new detective in charge of the case, Paulo Rebelo, has been reviewing the investigation for several months. But forensic evidence may not be enough on its own.
(DB) It’s absolutely true that DNA could never convict … and the cause of … legaly found, you can not do that. You need some other piece of evidence. To bolster it up, corroborate.
(TR) I suspect the investigating officers would be praying for the day when Madeleine is found. And if she’s been tragically murdered, that scene will give up so much information, so much evidence, that will help to explain the gaps in the story that we’ve got at the moment.
(MB) At the end of 2007, mr. and ms. McCann refuse to believe that Madeleine is dead. But a happy conclusion to the mystery seems increasingly unlikely. Without that, they may face 2008 with a cloud of suspicion still swirling around their heads. While the world wonders how a little girl can just disappear off the face of the earth.

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