by James Murray
KEY witnesses in and around the Ocean Club resort complex when Madeleine McCann disappeared should be asked to take part in a re‑enactment to help the Scotland Yard hunt for the child.
Former Yard Commander Dai Davies believes a controversial reconstruction with Kate and Gerry McCann, their holiday friends and others could be vital in encouraging new witnesses to come forward.
When top Portuguese detective Paulo Rebelo took over the case he was frustrated at not being able to stage a reconstruction as he believed it could provide a breakthrough.
However, at that time there were strains in the relationship with the McCanns, the so-called Tapas Seven and Portuguese police and there was suspicion about the motives of such an exercise.
Mr Davies, head of royal protection at the Yard and now a respected security consultant, said: “I believe a reconstruction should be one of the ideas on the table and it should be seriously considered, although it would obviously have to be handled very gently and diplomatically.
“Reconstructions screened on Crimewatch many, many years after serious crimes have been crucial in solving complex and difficult inquiries. If the reconstruction was screened across Europe it may inspire someone to come forward with crucial information.”
Jane Tanner, the friend of the McCanns who claimed she saw a man carrying a child near apartment 5a of the complex at Praia da Luz on Portugal’s Algarve on May 3, 2007, days before Madeleine’s fourth birthday, has already taken part in a partial reconstruction for a TV documentary.
Another crucial witness is Irishman Martin Smith, who also saw a man carrying a child in his arms later in the evening.
Mr Davies said: “As well as these important witnesses it would be useful to seek the cooperation of others who were working at the tapas bar.
“With the close involvement of the Yard and cooperation with all the important witnesses and an agreement for a filmed version to be screened on Crimewatch and its Portuguese equivalent, I believe a reconstruction would be very useful. I also think the Yard should conduct a thorough overhaul of all the forensic evidence as something may have been missed and they should trawl over the crucial witnesses to see if a line of inquiry was not pursued.
“A lot of photofits have been produced over the years and the team will be anxious to try to identify those people.” John O’Connor, former head of the Yard’s Flying Squad, said: “They are lucky in that there is already a mountain of evidence to go through and analyse and they are very good at that. They are very good at concentrating on the really important leads and how they were pursued.”
Although the Portuguese police publicly released scores of files on the case, they withheld documents with details of British people living in the area with criminal records for sex offences.
That information will now come under the microscope of the Yard’s elite Homicide and Serious Crime Command unit.
Det Chief Insp Andy Redwood will lead the team and he will be reporting to Det Chief Supt Hamish Campbell, Operational Command Unit commander. The senior officer in overall charge is Commander Simon Foy.
Mr Campbell is used to handling difficult, high profile cases as he was responsible for investigating the murder of BBC news presenter Jill Dando and is known for his attention to detail and his tenacity.
It is expected DCI Redwood will at times have 10 officers working for him and he will split them up into groups concentrating on different aspects of the case.
He is expected to travel to Portugal later in the month with a small team to liaise with detectives in Lisbon and Portimao, some 20 miles from Luz. Portuguese police are still the lead force in the investigation.
In her book, Madeleine, published last week, Kate McCann, 43, revealed the existence of a note in the Ocean Club staff message book saying that the families were leaving their children behind each night.
She said: “I was dismayed. This was a glaring light to a child taker and yet no mention is made of it in the files until December 2007. December 2007! Seven months after Madeleine’s abduction! I could only conclude that its relevance had not been appreciated by the police.”
One avenue the officers will explore is whether sightings of Madeleine were taken seriously and properly examined. Last week an elderly woman contacted the Sunday Express to say she saw Madeleine at the Spanish coastal town of Torrevieja, near Murcia, the day after the kidnapping.
The woman, aged 81, said she and her husband saw a girl with a suspicious looking man near some shops. She said: “It was definitely Madeleine because I recognised the mark in her eye. I went to the police there and I have been to British police but I don’t believe the sighting was properly investigated.”
We have passed on details of this incident to private investigators working for the McCanns.
Last week we revealed that German youth worker Martin N, who is being questioned about a spate of child murders across Europe, will be asked if he was in Praia da Luz when Madeleine vanished.
German police say he has confessed to one child murder and will be questioned about some 40 sex attacks.
in The Express, May 15, 2011
So when was Yard help offered?
HOME Secretary Theresa May is under pressure to explain exactly when Portuguese detectives made their offer to work with Scotland Yard.
Writing to Metropolitan Police chief Sir Paul Stephenson, Mrs May told him: “Following discussions between our Ambassador in Lisbon and the Portuguese Judicial Police, the Government received an offer of co-operation with the police here.” The meeting is crucial because it paved the way for Mrs May to request the assistance of the Yard.
However, the Sunday Express can disclose that Britain does not have an ambassador working in Portugal after Alexander Ellis was transferred at the end of last year.
In January, the Foreign Office announced that Joanna Kuenssberg O’Sullivan had taken over as Charge d’Affaires until a new ambassador was appointed. The following month it was announced that Jill Gallard had been appointed Ambassador to Portugal, but she will not take up her post until July.
Home Office officials were unable to explain whether it was Mr Ellis who had met with the Portuguese police, and if so when this took place.
“We are unable to check this sort of detail on a weekend,” said a Home Office official. “We don’t want to get drawn into who met who and when.”
in The Express, May 15 2011
Kate and Gerry McCann will not return to Portugal for Madeleine reconstruction
Kate and Gerry McCann have decided not to return to Portugal to take part in a reconstruction of events on the night Madeleine went missing.
The couple believe a re-enactment will do "absolutely nothing" to help find their daughter, who was three when she vanished from the family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in May 2007.
Mr and Mrs McCann, who are arguidos or suspects in their daughter's disappearance, had been asked by Portuguese police to return to the Algarve along with the seven friends on holiday with them at the time.
Detectives wanted to stage a reconstruction at the Ocean Club complex where the McCanns were dining, leaving Madeleine and her younger siblings in the unlocked apartment nearby. But the couple, from Rothley in Leicestershire, have decided not to go back.
A source close to the McCanns said: "There are no plans for Kate and Gerry and their friends to return to Portugal. They have all indicated their intentions to the police.
"The reconstruction will only take place if Kate and Gerry and their friends agree to take part. If they don’t agree it will not happen.
"Kate and Gerry have had grave reservations about the value of it. If the reconstruction was going to help Madeleine, nothing in the world would stop them taking part.
"But Kate and Gerry and their friends cannot see the point of all the disruption it would cause to their busy work schedules and families if, as they believe, it will do absolutely nothing to help find Madeleine."
The couple's spokesman Clarence Mitchell said yesterday: "Kate and Gerry and their friends remain committed to doing anything to help find Madeleine.
"I don’t want to comment on what they have told police but, if they do not return to Portugal, it is because they feel it offers no value and no assistance in finding Madeleine."
Mr Mitchell said that if the reconstruction was televised with the chance of bringing in new leads the McCanns and their friends would agree to do it.
He went on: "They would welcome a Crimewatch-style reconstruction which is properly broadcast for millions of people to see and could generate important new leads and fresh information."
But Portuguese police said they did not want the reconstruction to be filmed.
in The Telegraph May 27, 2008
«(...) E – About the Interest of the Reconstitution
Taking into account that there were certain points in the arguidos’ and witnesses’ statements that revealed, apparently at least, contradiction or that lacked physical confirmation, it was decided to carry out the “reconstitution of the fact”, a diligence that is consecrated in article 150 of the Penal Process Code in the sense of duly clarifying, on the very location of the facts, the following very important details, among others:
1 – The physical, real and effective proximity between Jane Tanner, Gerald McCann and Jeremy Wilkins, at the moment when the first person walked by them, and which coincided with the sighting of the supposed suspect, carrying a child. It results, in our perspective, strange that neither Gerald McCann nor Jeremy Wilkins saw her, or the alleged abductor, despite the exiguity of the space and the peacefulness of the area;
2 – The situation concerning the window to the bedroom where Madeleine slept, together with the twins, which was open, according to Kate. It seemed then necessary to clarify if there was a draught, since movement of the curtains and pressure under the bedroom door are mentioned, which, eventually, could be verified through the reconstitution;
3 – The establishment of a timeline and of a line of effective checking on the minors that were left alone in the apartments, given that, if it is believed that such checking was as tight as the witnesses and the arguidos describe it, it would be, at least, very difficult to reunite conditions for the introduction of an abductor in the residence and the posterior exit of said abductor, with the child, namely through a window with scarce space. It is added that the supposed abductor could only pass, through that window, holding the minor in a different position (vertical) from the one that witness JANE TANNER saw (horizontal);
4 – What happened during the time lapse between approximately 6.45/7 p.m. – the time at which MADELEINE was seen for the last time, in her apartment, by a different person (David Payne) from her parents or siblings – and the time at which the disappearance is reported by Kate Healy – at around 10 p.m.;
5 – The obvious and well-known advantages of immediate appreciation of evidence, or in other words, the fulfilment of the principle of contiguity of evidence in order to form a conviction, as firm as possible, about what was seen by Jane Tanner and the other interposers, and, eventually, to dismiss once and for all any doubts that may subsist concerning the innocence of the missing [child’s] parents.
In this sense, the legal procedures were followed, according to the norms and conventions that are in force, and the appearance of the witnesses was requested, inviting them to be present inclusively appealing to solidarity with the McCann couple, as it is certain that since the beginning they adhered to that process diligence.
Nevertheless, despite national authorities assuming all measures to render their trip to Portugal viable, for unknown motives, after the many doubts that they raised about the necessity and opportunity of their trip were clarified several times, they chose not to attend, which rendered the diligence inviable.
We believe that the main damage was caused to the McCann arguidos, who lost the possibility to prove what they have protested since they were constituted arguidos: their innocence towards the fateful event; the investigation was also disturbed, because said facts remain unclarified." (...)»
in Process 201/07.0 GALGS - Volume XVII - pages 4636-4638 (Public Prosecutor's Archiving Dispatch))
«(...) All of the group’s members including the McCann couple were questioned several times, at length and in detail, in order to collect the greatest possible number of relevant details that could assist the investigation in discovering the truth of the facts.
From the analysis of the total of depositions that were made, the existence of important details that were not fully understood and integrated became evident; details that would need to be tested and tried on location, in order to establish the apparent failures to meet and lacks of synchrony, even divergences, in a suitable diligence, which was not possible to perform despite the commitment that was displayed by the Public Ministry and by the PJ to fulfil that purpose, as we will see in closer detail, further ahead.(...)»
in The Archiving of the Madeleine McCann Process - Public Ministry Prosecutor Final Dispatch
«(...) Addressing now, and specifically, the question relative to the diligence known as the “reconstitution of the facts” (Article 150º of the Penal Process Code), which was not performed due to the refusal of some of the integral members of the holiday group to return to our country (as documented in the Inquiry), the same would have clarified, duly and in the location of the disappearance, the following extremely important details, amongst others:
The physical, real and effective, proximity between JANE TANNER, GERALD McCANN and JEREMY WILKINS, at the moment when the former passed them, and which coincided with the sighting of the supposed suspect, carrying a child. It results, from our understanding, as unusual that neither GERALD McCANN nor JEREMY WILKINS did not see her, nor the alleged abductor, despite the small dimensions of the space;
The situation that concerns the window of the bedroom where MADELEINE slept, together with the twins, which was open, according to KATE. It would be necessary to clarify whether there was a draft, due to the fact that movement of the curtains and pressure under the bedroom door are mentioned, which would eventually be clarified through the reconstitution.
The establishing of a timeline and of the effective checking of the minors that were left alone inside the apartments, given the fact that, believing that said checking was as tight as the witnesses and the arguidos describe it, it would be, to say the least, very difficult that the conditions were reunited for the introduction of an abductor in the residence and the posterior exit of said individual, with the child, namely through a window with little space. It is added that the supposed abductor could only pass that window holding the minor in a different position (vertical) from the one that was visualized by witness JANE TANNER (horizontal).
. What happened during the time lapse between 5.30 p.m. (the time at which MADELEINE was seen for the last time by a person that differs from her parents or siblings) and the time at which the disappearance is reported by KATE HEALY (at around 10 p.m.)(...)»
in The Judiciary Police Final Report, June 20, 2008
Read as well
Maddie Case Process: PJ Intercalary Report
PJ Final Report - All the Investigation on the McCanns
The Archiving of the Madeleine McCann Process: One Year On - Part I
The Archiving of the Madeleine McCann Process: One Year On - Part II
The Archiving of the Madeleine McCann Process: One Year On - Part III
The Archiving of the Madeleine McCann Process: One Year On - Part IV
The Archiving of the Madeleine McCann Process: One Year On - Part V
The Archiving of the Madeleine McCann Process: One Year On - Part VI
The Archiving of the Madeleine McCann Process: One Year On - Part VII
The Archiving of the Madeleine McCann Process: One Year On - Part VIII
Jane Tanner, Friend, travelling companion of the McCann family, p. 42 from the Process
Jane Tanner, Friend, travelling companion of the McCann family, p. 919 from the Process
McCann Case: Jane Tanner/DC Ferguson Statement
McCann Case: Jane Tanner Rogatory Interview Part I
McCann Case: Jane Tanner Rogatory Interview Part II
McCann Case: Jane Tanner Rogatory Interview Part III
McCann Case: Jane Tanner Rogatory Interview Part IV
McCann Case: Jane Tanner Rogatory Interview Part V
McCann Case: Jane Tanner Rogatory Interview Part VI
McCann Case: Jane Tanner Rogatory Interview Part VII
Martin Smith - Family who saw a man carrying a child in Praia da Luz on the night of the disappearance, p. 1606 from the Process
Martin Smith - Family who saw a man carrying a child in Praia da Luz on the night of the disappearance, additional statement, p. 4135 from the Process