Madeleine – we’re leaving home, bye, bye.

Today, 21 Mar 2017, some 14 months after we started buying our new home in Portelas, we finally completed everything and we now have the keys to the house.

As we have come to expect, more or less nothing went smoothly. The builder/decorator who is doing up the house before we move in was an hour late to meet the family to finalise what he was doing. And that is about as good as it got.

We went across at lunchtime because I wanted to do a couple of very simple things. I wanted to move the first tiny bit of our current home into our new home. I also wanted to establish my weather station in Portelas, aka establishing which direction is south.

The first one proved incredibly hard. There is a steep drive down to our bit (the oldies) of the new house. It seems that though we have the keys to the house, we do not have a key that opens up the gate at the bottom of the entrance drive, Our belongings went in the hard way, down a rather nasty set of stairs. If I look on the bright side I am now much fitter than I was when I woke up this morning.

The second one, the weather station, was impossible,. I wanted to check at 12.35am where the sun was. 12.35 is due south and permits me to set up an accurate weather station. How did that one go? No keys and no-one interested in looking out of the back. And when I finally cracked it, 99% cloud meant I could not work out whee the sun was.

Some belongings were transferred and Portelas was set up as base camp. No weather station. A nice peek inside Bernardo’s, the café opposite. Plus the location of the Portelas station for transfer of rubbish was identified.

It seems no one knows our exact address. The Portuguese electricity operator EDP is saying it will take 10 days plus to switch on our supply. We are hunting for a generator. The estate agent does not know the address of the property we have just purchased. The lawyer seems equally bemused. It could only happen in Portugal.

I wanted to bring you a photo of our new house in Portelas. Unfortunately it was solid cloud and spitting down. But guess what, when we got back to our old home it was ShiningInLuz.

Madeleine – Baptista CCTV

A couple of weeks ago it was pointed out to me that Baptista has CCTV on the entrances. So I wandered down on 11 Mar 2017 to have a look. Here is what the unit on the main entrance looked like.

This view from the north shows the camera plus a white conduit running across the roof over the entrance.

This is a closer view of the camera.

Google Streetview can be used to check that cameras were in-situ in Aug 2009. Here is the one at the rear.

If you compare Mar 2017 with Aug 2009, it is clear the same model was used front and rear, at least in Aug 2009.

Is it possible to pick up the units in 2007? Here is the view of the front of Baptista on 22 Jun 2007, courtesy of Google Earth. It is hard to make out the camera itself, but the white conduit running on the roof is easier to spot.

I have tried getting enough out of Google Earth to show if the rear CCTV was in place in Jun 2007 but the angle of the satellite image makes it difficult to be sure. It seems unlikely that there was CCTV at the front but none at the rear.

What I cannot ascertain is whether the CCTV is real, as opposed to a dummy, and whether the system records, as opposed to simply monitoring. There are no signs up alerting to the cameras, which would render a dummy ineffective. It also seems unlikely that the system would not record, making it useless for any overnight break-in.

On balance of probabilities the system is real and records. If correct, this means the CCTV should have been grabbed purely as an independent way of building up a picture of activity in the area of apartment 5A in the time leading up Madeleine’s disappearance.

However, given the years I have now lived in Luz combined with the fact I have never noticed these cameras before, it is unsurprising that no-one in the PJ spotted them or thought to capture these small scraps of information.

Madeleine and the loquat trees

The trees in the photo bearing small yellow fruits are loquat trees. The location is on the short route between apartment 5A and Madeleine’s playgroup above the Ocean Club 24 hour reception. The photo was taken on 11/3/2017.

A year ago in March a visitor and I were exploring the short route as a small part of the first Luz Tour. As we passed the tree on the left of my photo, I was astonished when my visitor picked one of the loquats and ate it, and survived to tell the tale.

I only found out later that these are loquat trees, and that the fruit is poisonous when unripe. In the photo, what you can see is the west half of the trees, and the fruit looks fairly ripe. However on the east half of the trees, the fruit is entirely green, and obviously not ripe. There must be more sun on the west side.

Anyway, I tried one of yellowest ones, and it was clearly not ripe. It was acidic and quite bitter, so I ate perhaps one small bit. This apparently makes loquat trees safe to have around. When unripe, no one can eat enough loquats to come to harm.

On 3 May 2016 I was on another Luz Tour. I had found out the trees are loquat trees and the fruit is edible when ripe, so I wanted to try one. To my amazement, there wasn’t a single loquat fruit in sight. They had all gone.

I could not tell whether that is normal for loquats, or whether someone in the Ocean Club had harvested the fruit. Loquat is Chinese or Japanese plum, so possibly it disappeared into loquat pies, loquat jam or loquat wine.

If this disappearance occurs by April 28 each year, then Madeleine would have seen the loquat trees but not the exotic yellow plums.

Madeleine v the call that wasn’t

Kate McCann raised the alarm that Madeleine was missing at around 10.05pm on 3 May 2007.

According to Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter at the the Telegraph, on 29 Apr 2016,

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/03/16/madeleine-mccann-latest-are-police-any-closer-to-knowing-the-tru/

In the nine years since Madeleine McCann went missing from a holiday apartment in Portugal, myriad theories about what happened to her have taken root, but only one fact remains uncontested: that she was reported missing at 10.14pm on the evening of Thursday, May 3, 2007.

It was at that point, when police were called, that the clock started ticking on the biggest missing persons investigation for decades, a search which remains very much active to this day.

Facts, the hard currency of any police investigation, have proved almost uniquely elusive; every sighting, every timing and every witness statement has been disputed in the years that have elapsed since.”

Gordon Rayner’s bio says he joined the Telegraph in 2007, and I can date an article to him to Sep 2007, in which he is described as a Chief Reporter, so presumably he joined in that capacity.

This particular article has been running in the Telegraph for years, updated with a new line or two, as and when, but basically the same article.

What do Mr Rayner’s opening paragraphs tell us. First, that the police were called at 10.14pm on 3 May 2007, and second, that there are no other uncontested facts.

However, the telephone company records for the calls made from the Ocean Club to the GNR in Lagos show the first call was at 10.41pm, or about 35 minutes after the alarm was raised.

So where does Mr Rayner’s idea of a 10.14 call originate? The provenance can be traced back to around 9 Sep 2007. The Telegraph, via Chief Reporter Gordon Rayner, on 11 Sep 2007, came up with 10.14pm. The Times on 9 Sep 2007 made it 10.14 to 10.15pm, attributed the story to the McCanns, and fleshed it out with the tale that this call was organised by a friend.

This provenance almost certainly goes further back than this. The McCanns were made arguidos on 7 Sep 2007, and I doubt this non-call was top of their agenda around 9 Sep 2007. However, there is a Times report by Penny Wark dated 4 Sep 2007 which covers a lot of ground in the case but makes no mention of this alleged call.

Who was the friend who made this non-call? That seems to be Matthew Oldfield, the same person who made the non-check on Madeleine at 9.30pm. In Matthew’s rogatory, he says he went to OC reception to request that the police were called, but did not insist on it. He left the Ocean Club reception thinking that Madeleine might have returned after having wandered off, so presumably he was not yet convinced by the abduction angle.

This non-call to the GNR appears to be pivotal. In a building in Lisbon, Securitas Portugal would be the next to call the GNR in Lagos, to report an incident in Odiáxere.

This is a list of the calls to the GNR in Lagos on 3 May 2007. It’s in an odd order, but there is no record of a call from the Ocean Club until 10.41pm, with a second at 10.53pm. This can be labelled as the ‘hurry-up’ call to the GNR patrol officers. Greentrust is the name of the Portuguese company used by Mark Warner to administer the Ocean Club.

If you look at the list of calls you will see that there were 3 from Securitas Direct Portugal, 214147000, to the GNR Lagos, 282762809. After Matthew Oldfield’s non-call around 10.14 or 10.15, the next real call to the GNR was from Securitas, at 10.30.

Here is a map of where Securitas was located re Lisbon. The GNR training school and dog unit was at Queluz, about 2 miles to the north.

The call to the GNR Matthew Oldfield did not enforce at around 10.14 meant the GNR Lagos responded to the Securitas call at 10.30, and headed instead to an incident in Odiáxere, a fair distance from Luz.

The second call from Securitas to Lagos GNR was at 10.44. The hurry-up call from the Ocean Club to the GNR was 9 minutes later. Securitas made a third call at 11.19pm.

The responding officers said they were at Valverde when they were told to hurry up. I don’t know what delay there was between the incoming phone call from the Ocean Club and passing that information to the patrol car. The call from the Ocean Club to the GNR in Lagos ended around 10.54pm, so presumably it was after this time.

There is another call of interest on this sheet. 964098114 called GNR Lagos at 11.09pm, lasting 41 seconds. This mobile number was noted as belonging to Silvia Batista. That call I will park for another post.

Madeleine – News Feb 2017

February 2017 saw a lot of hot air re Madeleine McCann.

Loose Women debated the Supreme Court decision to refuse to hear the McCanns appeal, and Lisa Riley said she had visited Luz to check out the incident scene.

A bidding war for the rights to a 10th anniversary interview was first raised, then it was quickly quashed.

Is Gonçalo Amaral writing another book? Possibly, but warnings against this allegedly went out in Britain.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2017/02/06/anonymous-knocks-20pc-dark-web-offline-campaign-against-child/ This story snuck through under the radar. The gist is that someone was able to penetrate the Dark Web, locate child porn sites, and take 10,000 of them off line. I have no idea whether this is feasible or not.

Shannon Matthews hit the television in the Moorside. There was an alleged disappearance based on Madeleine, plus an approach to the Find Madeleine fund for £25K.

By 8 Feb 2017, the major news of the month emerged in the media. The Supreme Court of Portugal’s judgement was published. A key point was that it refuted that the McCanns had been cleared by the archival of the case in 2008.

http://portugalresident.com/international-child-porn-ring-under-investigation-throughout-portugal The link says it all. Operation Daylight is at this point in time a national search across Portugal into a paedophile image sharing ring.

By 18 Feb 2017, the McCanns had lodged a complaint about the Supreme Court decision not to hear their case. At this point in time, it is not clear what the complaint is.

And by 22 Feb 2017, Mark Williams-Thomas appeared on TV promoting his woke and wandered theory. This seemed to trigger a number of personality responses, from ‘I would have dug with my hands’ to ‘the McCanns should move on’.

28 Feb 2017. Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe stands down, and Cressida Dick is the new supremo of Scotland Yard.

Madeleine v the double buggy

In the Crimewatch of Oct 2013, the reconstruction shows the McCanns, all played by actors and actresses, in an early trip around the Ocean Club soon after arriving in Luz. ‘Gerry’ is pushing a double buggy containing the ‘twins’, ‘Kate’ is walking in front with an inflated pool ring (which appears to be adult sized) and ‘Madeleine’ is romping out ahead.

I cannot get a clear photo of the Crimewatch double buggy as ‘Kate’ is always obscuring it. This is the best I can do.

20131013-crimewatch-double-buggy

The double buggy is one of the numerous errors in Crimewatch. The McCanns did not take any kind of a buggy with them.

From Kate’s book ‘madeleine’, about their first afternoon/evening in Luz

Afterwards we strolled over to the Millennium restaurant for dinner. … The restaurant turned out to be nearly half a mile away from our base – a bit too far, really, certainly for a gaggle of weary toddlers. As we were only going to be away for a week, we’d decided not to bring Sean and Amelie’s double buggy with us, preferring to travel light. … So there were many stops and negotiations about whose turn it was to be carried by whom.”

Their family beach trip was on Tuesday, 1 May 2007.

In the afternoon Gerry and I decided to take the children down to the beach. … We borrowed a double buggy from Mark Warner to make the walk easier for Sean and Amelie.”

Since Crimewatch didn’t think the double buggy was important, I have no reason to think that they would have checked on the make or model of the double buggy used by the McCanns in the UK.

The double buggy in Crimewatch appears to me to be a relatively lightweight one, though it is hard to tell. By comparison, the McCanns’ UK double buggy looks to be a substantial beast. Here it is in Oct 2007.

20071017-katemccann-double-buggy

Without any sort of buggy capacity, the walk from apartment 5A to and from the Millennium would indeed be a mighty effort. Simply carrying the twins is not the complete answer, due to traffic flow. While Baptista was open (8.30am to 8pm), Rua Dr Agostinho da Silva beside 5A is an important entry to and exit from the supermarket. Jenny Murat describes a near miss as she was returning from buying some bread close to the shop’s closing time.

The fact that Rua Direita is one way (west to east) also affects traffic flow on the major part of the route between apartment 5A and the Millennium. Traffic coming from Lagos on the M537 is forced to turn north at the entry junction to Luz, in order to avoid Rua Direita. Then a 90° curve at the Mirage puts this stream of traffic smack-dab on the McCann route along Rua do Ramalhete.  Here is the McCann journey.

5a-to-millennium

Nearly all of the traffic coming from Lagos gets shunted onto this road. That includes the Lagos to Burgau bus route. (The Burgau to Lagos route is able to travel along Rua Direita.)

From the time that the buses start or Baptista opens to the time that both shut down the route requires control over young children. Assuming Gerry carried one of the twins and Kate carried one of the others, it still required a hand free to make sure Madeleine stayed on the pavement.

According to Vitor dos Santos, the Head of Accommodation at the Ocean Club, who booked-in the Tapas 9 –

For dinner the guests could choose between two options, the Tapas and the Millennium and although the meals are identical, the clients choose the restaurant according to its proximity to their accommodation.

In this case in concrete, the rational choice for dinner would be the Tapas restaurant as it is 100 metres distance from the apartment, whilst the Millennium is situated 600 metres away.”

The diagram above measures the distance from 5A to the Millennium. Senhor dos Santos makes it 600 metres. I make it 650m, which is just above what Senhor dos Santos thinks and a little below what Kate says.

I don’t think a small difference is significant. With or without a buggy, apartment 5A to the Millennium is not a pleasant route nor is it an easy trek. I have been informed by a reliable source that the other 3 families in the T9 group brought buggies. I don’t know what they all did for breakfast. But in the evening they preferred the Tapas restaurant over the Millennium.

And so Madeleine, and all the other children of the T9, would be spending their evenings in block 5 whilst the parents dined nearby.

Madeleine – News Jan 2017

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38614824 On 13 Jan, the BBC ran this article about Kamiyah Mobley, a baby who was kidnapped when she was just 8 months old, from a hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, in July 1998. A tip led the police to the alleged kidnapper. DNA testing was used to confirm the biological mother of the abduction victim. This story was linked to Madeleine by at least one tabloid, which claimed a friend of the McCanns said the parents were buoyed by this development. {This story is not a direct equivalent to Madeleine McCann, due to the differences in the ages of the children when they disappeared. What it does show is the effort the police put into a resolution of Kamiyah Mobley’s disappearance.}

http://www.cmjornal.pt/portugal/detalhe/mccann-perdem-recurso-no-supremo-contra-goncalo-amaral?ref=Modalidades_BlocoFimPagina On Tuesday 31 Jan the news broke that the Supreme Court of Portugal had refused to hear a further stage of the McCanns v Amaral case. An appeal court in Lisbon on 19 Apr 2016 had overturned an earlier decision to award the McCanns damages for the publication of his book, A Verdade Da Mentira. UK press reported the Supreme Court ruling widely and, in the main, poorly. The refusal to hear an appeal to the Supreme Court was portrayed as if such an appeal had been held, when it had not. Various options were then tagged on such as the possibility of Gonçalo Amaral suing Kate and Gerry McCann. {To be continued in Feb 2017 News.}

On the same day, The Sun put two and two together, and seemingly came up with five. https://www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/2753198/kate-mccanns-missing-people-choir-brings-britains-got-talent-judges-to-tears-with-heartbreaking-secret-audition/ The Missing People Choir did an audition for Britain’s Got Talent. Kate McCann is an ambassador for Missing People. The Sun transformed her into the choir ambassador, and speculated that Kate might get more heavily involved if the choir progressed to the live shows. {To be continued in Feb 2017 News.}

missing-people