Madeleine – Luz Tour #6

Luz Tour #6 took place on 1st May and 2nd May 2017, just before the 10th anniversary. It was with a UK press member, Michael Havis. I was somewhat apprehensive, given that I had already been flame-grilled by a UK tabloid that had never spoken to me in any way, shape, or form. Things went better this time round, and I consider I received a much more balanced evaluation.

We met up at a hotel in the west of Luz, had a chat for a few minutes, then headed into Luz on foot.

Our first stop was at Rua das Flores. I wanted to show why it made sense for the McCanns to haul rubbish out of their rental villa by car, hence the stinky boot story. The bins are at the entrance/exit to the urbanisation, not easy to get to on foot, but chuck a plastic bag full of rubbish in the boot and everything makes perfect sense. Including a stinky boot.

Off we headed down Rua 25 de Abril to look at the place where Operation Grange dug up the mound. Visitors seem surprised by the size of it. The key details pass them by. It is an integral part of the Luz one-way system. There were two nearby restaurants which opened in 2007, though whether they managed it by May 2007, I don’t know.

Critical point #1 is the statement of Kirsty Louise Maryan. She was up a hill in Luz with two other nannies in the early hours of 4 May 2007 when they encountered Barrington Godfrey Norton, who was sleeping rough in a Ford Escort van. The only place I know of in Luz up a hill where people park camper vans overnight is this mound. I don’t have confirmation from any of the 4 people involved in this encounter that it happened on the mound. It is simply the only place that fits.

We walked through much of central Luz and arrived at the Ocean Club. I was becoming very tired. I took Mr Havis part of the way along the short route between the Tapas reception area and the Ocean Club night crèche. Along the way we saw that the adults-only swimming pool had no water in it. The next day we would find that the indoor pool was also empty of water. Basically, the Ocean Club is dead.

Near the adults-only pool, the short route goes up half a dozen steps, then it goes down a large number on the other side, and I didn’t want to do that, so we parted and Mr Havis continued exploring on his own. It seems he ended up on the sea front for a meal.

He liked the café enough that we met up there at lunchtime the next day, and it was packed. The visitors included large Portuguese groups, presumably down from Lisbon, extending the Labour Day holiday.

On the sea-front promenade on the way to the café, I had been accosted by a charity collector. This brings my encounters with charity collectors in Luz to 6. 4 of these have been calls to my residence, and each of these I would consider suspect. The other 2 have been in busy public areas of Luz, and both of these I consider genuine. Mr Havis was relieved to hear I considered the promenade charity collector to be genuine, as he had made a donation on his journey to the café.

I explained the story about the alleged tunnels and O Pouço to Mr Havis, so he asked if we could have a look, and we did. Then it was back to the front for the renovated Paraíso, where the Tapas 7 went on 3 May 2007, the market stalls where Gerry bought sunglasses on the McCanns trip to the beach, and up Rua Praia da Luz.

This street has at least two components in the Madeleine story.

John Ballinger apparently lives on this street. I knew that previously, but what I didn’t know before was that he appeared on the Sky 10th anniversary special. He explained to roadworks that were open on the night of 3 May, and from his photos, he appears to be the source for a picture in the press. Mr Ballinger said he had reported the roadworks to the police, which implies at that time he was of the opinion it was a missing child who woke and wandered, rather than an abduction.

The other feature on Rua Praia da Luz is the Duke of Holland restaurant/bar. It was taken over and has since closed down, but in 2007 it was run by June and Paul Wright. When the news was made public on 3 May, one of the pair immediately joined the search for Madeleine, while the other closed the Duke later, then got involved in the search. After this they were checked re whether Robert Murat was around apartment 5A that evening, as they knew Mr Murat and could recognise him. Despite returning to the vicinity of 5A several times during searches, Mr Murat had not been seen.

At the top of the beach road we turned left on Rua Direita and headed SW. This also has a number of items of interest on it.

First, the roadworks in the files were being done on this street.

Then there is the Luz Sporting Club. This is one of two places in Luz I suspect Sr Euclides Monteiro may well have been on that evening. His widow has said he was at home in Portelas (about 15 minutes drive from Luz) on 3 May 2007, composing a poem on his computer. I suspect he was in Luz, with friends, watching the big game. There were lots of places in Luz to watch the football that night, but only two where the predominant language was likely to be Portuguese and where the predominant culture was likely to be Portuguese. So Mr Havers took a photo of the club for his stock.

The we went to the Ocean Club reception. Things have changed somewhat with Madeleine’s kids club no longer there, and the indoor swimming pool in disuse.

I didn’t fancy the large flight of steps on the short route used by the McCanns, so we opted for a slightly longer route that is set up for wheelchair users, hence there are no stairs. This is probably the way the nannies moved the children from the kids club to the Tapas zone because it avoids a steep flight of stairs and it is ideally suited to Sammy Snake, the preferred way of getting the kids to walk together.

As it so happens, this goes between Fiji Palms block and Casa Liliana. Fiji Palms was the location of the Carpenter family. Casa Liliana was the home of Robert Murat and his mother Jenny. This is the approximate point at which Stephen Carpenter and Robert Murat met on the morning of 4 May, when Mr Murat learned what was going on, and he went to block 5 to offer his services as an interpreter.

We then headed to the Tapas reception, using the same semi-circular route taken by the Carpenters when they left the Tapas zone on 3 May.

Mr Havis was being pressed by his editor to file at least one story by his editor while he was still in Luz, so he wanted a photo to go with it. This is the one he picked.

After 2 days of Luz Tour #6, I was very tired physically. Mr Havis was going to head back to his hotel, apparently to converse with a colleague. I had just enough gas in the tank to walk home. We did not discuss what either of us would be doing on the 10th anniversary.

I have no idea how Mr Havis spent most of his day on 3 May 2017. I decided that I only had the capacity left for a stab at one trip into Luz, so I picked the 10th anniversary ceremony at St Vincent.

There I bumped into a contact from AFP from Luz Tour #5. He was back down after another 3 hour trip from Lisbon, so he has more stamina than I have.

As it happens, I took the extremely grainy photo of Mr Havis with Reverend Haynes Hubbard that appeared in the UK press.

And yes, I missed the chance to introduce myself to Mr Martin Brunt of Sky TV. He, and the Sky team, looked like they were working their socks off.

Madeleine – 10th – #10 – Rothley

Where were Kate and Gerry McCann when the Anglican community of Luz was remembering the 10th anniversary of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann?

They were at the Anglican church of St Mary and St John in Rothley in Leicestershire.

Perhaps there is no Catholic church in Rothley. It just so happens that in Luz and Rothley, the services were both Anglican, not Catholic.

These are people who flew to Italy to meet the Pope. Anglican in Luz, Anglican in Rothley.

Kate and Gerry on the 10th anniversary.

Madeleine – 10th – #9 – is this the finale?

This is nearly the finale.

It was now getting late and I was getting fidgety. I had wanted to get to the Smith sighting by 10pm and the time had come and gone.

However reporter Michael Havis had now bagged Reverend Haynes Hubbard, so I took a few more photos. Please bear in mind that circumstances were far from perfect. I still had not figured out how to switch the flash on my camera off, so I must have being annoying many a person. It is also not the best camera mode for a night shot, which explains why this photo is so fuzzy.

However, this low quality photo made it into the UK media reports and the question is why. The photo shows what Reverend Hubbard was wearing on his feet – sandals and no socks. He obviously does not stand on ceremony.

But the photo part that interests me is what this gentleman has around his right wrist. It is a yellow band. Reverend Hubbard is Canadian, and these wrist bands have a meaning in North America. They signify hope that a missing child will one day return.

This is a marginally less fuzzy photo of Reverend Hubbard being interviewed by Michael Havis. You can see the lady in black from CMTV striding off at a rate of knots. Lisbon is 3 hours from Luz. London via Faro is more like 6 hours. The media did their interviews and headed off into the distance.

Whereas I grabbed Mr Havis, dragged him to the Smith sighting, and there we emulated exactly what could have been seen by Peter Smith, Martin Smith and Aoife Smith.

This is the last of my personal photos. Questions remain. Where were the McCanns? What did Sky’s special on 2 May 2017 reveal? What did the Panorama special on the 10th anniversary reveal?

Madeleine – 10th – #8 – TV interviews

The time is around 9.48pm according to the church clock, and the interviews with Reverend Hubbard are underway.

Our gentleman in an orange T-shirt is there. The blonde-haired lady in the full length camel-coloured coat is, I believe, from Sky, as is the gentleman taking the video. As far as I can tell, Mr Brunt is engaged in conversation with 2 people just to the right of the church door. The CMTV team is still hard at it just to the left. In the centre with the backpack is Michael Havis from the UK media.

I have no idea who the people inside St Vincent’s are.

The grilling continues.

Martin Brunt appears to be enjoying his conversation with the couple behind.

I am interested in the technology deployed, for the simple reason that I would like to upgrade my own kit, though it will be nowhere near what you can see in the photo. But please notice a couple of points.

BBC and Sky appear to favour those big, fluffy microphones. The Portuguese media, however, appear to favour a hand-held microphone sporting their company logo.

The second point is that the man in orange appears to be using a hand-held microphone with no logo on it. I haven’t got a clue as to why.

Now it is the CMTV turn to interview Reverend Hubbard. The lady in black is back and she is holding up a red CMTV microphone, which is why I knew beforehand in this series that she was from CMTV.

What are the points to notice?

First, the video camera is giving off so much light that Reverend Hubbard’s face has almost disappeared from my photo.

Second, if you look at the shadows being cast, the dominant light is still the sodium street-lights.

Third, Mr Brunt appears to have bagged another couple to garner a sliver of information or a quote.

Madeleine – 10th – #7 – media prize

The photo I am about to show you is particularly low quality, but it shows some of the backstage antics and I want to give you a flavour of reality. This is not the polished approach of professionals. This is amateur, It is raw and it is authentic.

The candle bearers were proceeding by, largely ignored. Under the tripod in the foreground is a red tablet. It has featured in this set of photos before. However, I cracked on with other things before I got round to watching Martin Brunt in the Sky special for the 10th. It wasn’t until I saw the Sky special that I twigged it follows Mr Brunt around wherever he goes. Consequently, I have no idea what information is held on that tablet.

The gentleman in the top is checking light levels, I think. He is wearing an orange t-shirt and shorts. No, you cannot see his t-shirt is orange in this photo, but he will appear again later.

The man to the left of centre is Martin Brunt, I believe. He was only one of two men wearing a suit. Mr Brunt appears to be catching up on his mobile.

In the next photo, you can see who the media were awaiting to interview. The time by the church clock is 9.46pm. It looks like Martin Brunt has nabbed first dibs on Reverend Haynes Hubbard. Our orange-shirted man has come across to join in, and it looks like a planning meeting. Reverend Hubbard is very casual in a white shirt, trousers and sandals.

My contact from Lisbon is Jerome pin, the man on the right with the dark blue shirt and light blue jeans. I have no certainty about who was on the phone, but I would guess it was work, aka AFP. Just to the left of the church door was CMTV tucking away some video. I didn’t know at the time the lady in black was from CMTV, but she will pop up again in a clearer photo.

The other person in the photo that I can identify is my contact from the UK, Michael Havis, in black, bent over his mobile. We had done Luz Tour 6 on 1st and 2nd May. I have yet to write that up due to priorities. He will appear again later in this photoset.

At this point I was getting a bit nervous, because I wanted to get to the Smith sighting for 10pm. Bear in mind that though the clock church said 9.46pm, I made it 9.52pm.

The trouble was, the media wanted to interview Reverend Hubbard.

Madeleine – 10th – the congregation emerges

The times on my camera are about 8 minutes ahead of the church clock. This the scene around 9.40pm, with the media now waiting for the congregation to emerge from St Vincent.

There are still late night passers-by heading south, perhaps to one of the restaurants or perhaps just going for a stroll on a pleasant evening.

I got intercepted by one gentleman from Sweden who was curious about the activity. And a German couple who said they were in Luz on the night Madeleine disappeared. Because I don’t look like media, people are generally happy to chat to me for a few minutes. The flavour was along the lines of why so much was being done for one child when there are many other missing children.

If you look at the lighting, you can see more sources than there are at the Jane Tanner sighting. However, Jane’s man-carrying-child was very close to a (sodium) street light. The street lights here are sodium, backed by fluorescent light from two shop fronts, the media cameras and a near-full moon. On 3 May 2007, the near-full moon had not risen, but on 3 May 2017 it was well up in a clear sky.

Make your own judgement about which colours can be picked out and which colours can’t.

The shop in the background with a green stripe over the window and a large plus sign on its front wall is a chemist. Back in 2007, it was an Ali Super convenience store. There is footage of that store in the background as the McCanns arrived at the church to attend an evening mass. The store remained open until 10.30pm.

If the Crimewatch special of Oct 2013 is to be believed, the man seen by the Smiths around 10pm headed in this direction i.e. roughly in the direction of the church.

If the Panorama special of May 2017 is to be believed, the dig in central Luz by Operation Grange in June 2014 relates to 3 men considered as possible burglars. These 3 men were 3 of the 4 made arguidos in July 2014, but all 4 have been informed they are no longer persons of interest.

Neither Crimewatch nor Panorama seems to have twigged the importance of Aoife Smith’s testimony.

It would be an interesting Freedom Of Information request to find out precisely how much the Operation Grange digs in Luz cost.

The church clock is showing 9.40pm, and the congregation has started to emerge, complete with candles inside little glass bowls. I was a little bit bemused as to why there was little attention being paid to these people. The best photo I have seen of them was taken by reporter Michael Havis, inside St Vincent. He told me the congregation numbered about 20 and they went near to east end altar, while the media, also around 20 in number, sat at the west end, near the door you see.

It dawned on me why the media was paying limited attention to the candle-light procession. They were queuing up for an interview with the Anglican minister, Reverend Haynes Hubbard. Presumably these had been agreed in advance i.e. that the minister would come out at the end of the service and talk to the media.

Madeleine – 10th – dodgy photos

This is what it looks like when a media scrum is awaiting the next important film shot. They don’t stand around taking a break, getting some peace and quiet. There are things to be done and communications to be made.

I have called this post ‘dodgy photos’ for a reason. I am trying hard to give you an accurate representation of what could be seen on 3 May 2007. I have the photo-edit tools to make these pictures look ‘professional’. But what I want to depict on 3 May 2017 is pure reality.

The time is around 9:10pm by the church clock.

What is dodgy about this photo? Just about everything. I kept trying to switch the flash on my camera off, but it was popping off left, right, and centre. The professionals were a league ahead with lighting, and no one complained, though I must have been a pain in the ass. Perhaps they get used to amateurs.

So what have got? Well, I lit up the gentleman on the left brighter than a Christmas tree. In the centre, the video recorder from Sky is hard at it on his mobile. Mr Brunt appears to be deep in his lines.

Please look very carefully at this pair. This is roughly the distance of the Jane Tanner sighting. What can you see? Mr cameraman is right handed. Mr Brunt is checking details whilst wearing sunglasses long after sundown.

At the rear is a perfect example of why cats eyes were invented. You cannot miss them.

The time is moving on. Have a careful look at the photo and work out what you can describe. I can tell colours, clothing, footwear. There are no white blobs in reality everywhere – that is just s**t on my lens.

This is what media people do whilst waiting for the next big photo opportunity. It’s heads craned, there are things to be checked. The gentleman on the left looks like he is checking out an alien from 1950s Area 51. I guess this is a trick of photography.

It’s 5am in Luz. The rubbish has just been picked up. The local cockerel is telling us all to get up. There is no sign of dawn on the horizon.