MADELEINE: I KNOW HOW SHE WAS TAKEN
By Donal MacIntyre
MADELEINE McCann was abducted by at least two kidnappers who must have carried out several dry runs in the days leading up to her disappearance.
After spending a week on the ground investigating the case and the methods used by the kidnappers, I can only conclude that they must have entered the apartment to carry out a rehearsal, because they were working to an incredibly tight schedule.
The three-minute time frame they allowed themselves left no margin for error.
But even though they did their homework with meticulous care, they still came within seconds of capture.
I believe the focus of the investigation for the private investigators hired by Madeleine’s parents should be on a breakdown of who was in and around the Mark Warner Ocean Club in Praia da Luz throughout their holiday.
It is more than probable key witnesses would have seen the kidnappers in the days and nights leading up to the abduction on
Such was the narrow window of opportunity, only agile, sharp-witted people well-practised in breaking and entering properties could have pulled this off.
Over the past week I have conducted a cold case review of most of the available evidence relating to the abduction and had lengthy discussions with numerous Portuguese sources who cannot be identified.
Crucial to unravelling the whole case is establishing what precisely took place from to on the night Madeleine vanished.
In my view too little attention has been paid to what I believe was a key sighting.
A dark-haired woman was observed standing near a street light at a road junction that overlooks
She was seen looking at the apartment as the late evening gloom descended.
Was she also watching to see the movements of Kate and Gerry McCann and their holiday friends, the so-called Tapas Seven? I think so.
The same witness who saw the mystery woman also saw a gold or brown Nissan car driving erratically past the woman.
Despite appeals neither the woman nor the driver of the car has come forward.
Was this Nissan the getaway car and was its driver conducting a dry run at this very time? Again, I think so.
Although we do not, sadly, have a minute-by-minute breakdown of the events that took place, this is the scenario that I believe unfolded.
Having settled Madeleine, then three, and their two-year- old twins, Sean and Amelie, Gerry and Kate, from Rothley, Leicestershire, have a glass of wine before heading off to the tapas bar, a minute’s walk away, to join their friends Jane Tanner and her partner Russell O’Brien, Rachel and Mathew Oldfield, David and Fiona Payne and Diane Webster.
At about Gerry leaves the table and walks over to the apartment to check on the twins and Madeleine.
The Praia da Luz resort
He enters the apartment and then goes to the toilet. He checks on his children and savours a proud father’s moment as he stands by the doorway looking into the back bedroom where they are all soundly asleep.
The twins are in cots and Madeleine in bed, holding her favourite toy, Cuddle Cat. Gerry spends up to 10 minutes in the five-room apartment and will only later reflect that he felt there was someone else there at the same time.
For the kidnap to have taken place I believe Gerry’s gut instinct was sound.
So we must assume that a few minutes before Gerry arrived, the abductor walked along the public road beside the apartment, opened the gate, walked up 10 steps to the patio and entered through the open patio doors.
At this stage he or she is a heartbeat away from being caught. But where could the abductor have hidden? Gerry walked through the front room, used the bathroom and looked in on the children – but did he check anywhere else?
My view is that the abductor was probably in the children’s bedroom, possibly behind the door or crouching behind furniture.
As Gerry strolls out of the patio doors, closing but not locking them, he leaves through the same small gate facing the road where the abductor has entered minutes before.
Just outside, he meets television producer Jes Wilkins on the way back to the tapas bar. There is not another soul on the street.
Back inside the apartment the abductor must be breathing a sigh of relief as Gerry leaves, then realises his exit route is blocked and plan B has to be put into operation.
For this, help is essential. The abductor inside the apartment passes Madeleine – probably put to sleep with chloroform – through the open window into the accomplice’s arms.
In the distance, the voices of Gerry McCann and Jes Wilkins waft through the air.
What trauma would Madeleine suffer if, terrified and forcibly kept silent, she hears Dad’s voice as she is being bundled into the hands of dangerous strangers? At the same time – about – and unnoticed by Wilkins and Gerry, Jane Tanner observes them chatting.
The kidnapper holding Madeleine retreats to the adjacent car park before heading on to the same footpath where, a short distance downhill, Gerry and Wilkins are talking.
The accomplice makes his way out of the window and into the darkness.
The kidnappers think they have got away with it, but they are on the brink of being caught.
Despite hearing the voices of Madeleine’s father a short distance away, the kidnapper holding the girl plans to cross the road junction just above them.
As he hits the footpath, he sees both men chatting and Jane Tanner heading his way – three potential witnesses to the abduction, including the father of the child.
Why choose such a potentially disastrous course? My belief is that he had to make a rendezvous with the getaway driver.
The seven seconds he took to cross the road were either well-planned, foolhardy or a sign of breathtaking confidence. In any case, the kidnapper never faltered and was never seen again.
Jane Tanner says he was carrying a child. She believes it was Madeleine and her theory is supported by the McCann investigators.
The timing of the statements from the key witnesses suggests that there was a maximum of three to five minutes for the abduction to be executed.
In such circumstances only good planning and co-ordination could make this possible. It would be an extraordinary effort, needing an astonishing degree of luck, if this had been done on an opportunistic basis.
The clean execution of the kidnap, without a hint of a
Such precision is the hallmark of fixated, obsessive sexual predators. There were 20 known paedophiles living on the
However, the area must be a magnet for sex offenders. It has a creche, school and nursery. Add a transient population of young holidaymakers and you have a lot of attractions for sexual predators.
With its road access the McCann apartment was the most vulnerable in the complex and it is easy to see why a paedophile would make it a target.
The McCanns’ decision, formed by the semi-secure nature of the holiday complex, to use a check-in system for their children rather than have babysitters allowed the abductors to strike. In hindsight, that unfortunate decision left their children vulnerable to an abductor.
Last week I walked unchallenged on to the property in the company of another journalist. We were both unsuitably dressed and surrounded by children and parents. We had a drink and left. Two hours later I returned and again was not challenged.
Today there is more lighting around the complex but little else has changed. Until the kidnappers are caught, the unspoken fear will remain that Praia da Luz is a sunny place for shady people.
All that remains visible of the Madeleine McCann campaign there is a touching shrine in the beautiful church on the sea front.
Pray For Me, the heart-shaped poster pleads. Below it, 10 electric candles flicker in her memory. Many more will be lit before this mystery is solved.
Lawyers representing Kate and Gerry McCann have demanded that a website claiming their daughter was not abducted should be taken down.
The Madeleine Foundation claims Madeleine is dead and her parents bear some responsibility for her death.
The McCanns’ spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: “Kate and Gerry have made it clear they will not dignify the actions of the so-called Madeleine Foundation with any comment.”
They have just nicked my brilliant scenario from 7 September: How Very Dare They???Well maybe we should get on to "Cutting Edge" and ask them why they did not do a proper reconstruction along the lines of what Gerry told us.
Then we would have to be shown, abductor not jemmying the window and shutter open and climbing in over Kate's unmade bed without leaving any forensic trace.
Abductor hearing Gerry, firstly coming in through the front door via his key (4 May) and secondly Gerry coming in through rear patio door (10 May). We would have to see the abductor in a flurry around this apt as he attempted to hide whilst Gerry was entering both the doors, as depicted. Eventually in an utter panic, said abductor would be depicted hiding behind the bedroom door as Gerry entered and waving to him when Gerry turned around to depart and saw him there. Perhaps abductor could say to Gerry it is OK I only want Maddie, you can keep the other two. I am not sure at what stage Gerry went and had a strain on the toilet but am sure this could be fitted in.
From there, Gerry could be depicted exiting the apartment having exchanged pleasantries with the abductor and standing on guard at the rear exit (just to make sure he did not get too greedy).
Gerry could then be depicted whizzing backwards and forwards across the road as he chatted to Wilkins.
Gerry could then be depicted standing facing up the road looking at the abductor at the same time as Jane Tanner squeezed past him also looking at said abductor.
Said abductor would have to be depicted either clambering through the bedroom window with Maddie, fast asleep and avoiding at all costs and scrapes in lichen or leaving any forensic trace.
Or said abductor could be depicted opening the front door with Maddie cradled across his arms and without needing to worry about it being deadlocked because of course Gerry wanted to be helpful and not put the deadlock.
Then said abductor could be depicted whizzing across with short dark hair and being 5'10 and then again with masses of thick dago hair and a moustache but also looking a lot like a woman and being 5'7".
Now did I miss anything ou?
All we need to know is that three very small children were left alone repeatedly, by their parents. And the only reason we are all here discussing
the minutae surrounding these parents, is that one of those very small children is missing.
Madeleine Beth McCann is missing either because her parents did indeed, leave her and her siblings night after night, and an abductor really did take the eldest,
who had not yet reached her fourth birthday. OR, the same parents knew exactly what had happened to Madeleine, and as many believe, that an "abduction" was staged by the parents and their friends; friends who also admitted leaving their small children. These are the only scenarios. And whichever way the spin doctors spin it - and my goodness, they certainly have, whether the first or the second scenario happened - it totally stinks, because IT IS THE FAULT OF THE PARENTS.
That Gerry McCann said that their parenting was "in the realms of responsible" is the stuff of fairytales. We all KNOW that if this was the case, then they would have all their kids, and we would have never heard of any of them. The only reason we know about the McCanns, is because they were , at best, by their own admission, negligent. When Clarence Mitchell announced smugly to the nation that "it is a British thing (leaving small kiddies alone) we all do it" we know that he was lying. Because we don't. We simply KNOW as parents, that small children should never, ever, be left. The fact that he said this is, is proof (to me anyway) that the McCann's actions needed justifying. But there is no justification in the world, for what they did.
They left them. They admit this. They won't apologise for it - the most they will grudgingly say is, "we wish we were there when she was taken". As if it was inevitable. But we all know that IF she was taken, then it is no one's fault but their own. As doctors, they should KNOW all too well the horrors that await unattended children. And yet they still try to distance themselves from the blame. But they can't. Because the buck stops with them, it always has, and it always will.
Sometimes, whilst we trawl through posts and files, we may have doubts. We can't see the woods for the trees. But if we remember why we are all here - and go back to the beginning...then it all becomes clear.
They left her. They let her down - they then deflected blame and hired PR people to spin for them. But some things are totally unspinnable. Which is why I'm still here - she deserved so much better. And one day, sooner or later, truth will out, for a little girl who was appallingly let down - and who often appears an afterthought, whilst the PR people try to spin the unspinnable, and paint her parents whiter than white.