Whatever happened to Madeleine McCann, it happened between the time that she was last seen by an independent witness and when the alarm was raised,
There are conspiracy theories that are based on Madeleine being dead the night before 3rd May, or even earlier.
What happened to Madeleine very definitely depends on the ‘window of opportunity’, the period in which she went from being present to being missing.
I got prodded into this one by Loops. I was thinking about another post on body disposal on the Algarve, but he’s right. How long you have to dispose of a body, assuming that is what happened, is key to whether you can dispose of a body or not. Not the other way around.
So who is the last independent person who can verify when Madeleine was definitely alive?
Since Madeleine was at high tea on 3rd May in the Tapas area there should be a bucket-load of people stepping forward to place her there.
This should include the parents of other children who attended that high tea. I cannot find a statement where another parent places Madeleine at high tea that day, despite the fact that the records show several kids were signed out of childcare at the same time as Madeleine.
It should include the child-carers, the ones responsible for looking after Madeleine and people like the twins. I cannot find a statement from a child carer that definitely and clearly puts Madeleine, or the twins, at high tea at that time.
The Tapas group, other than the McCanns, were on CCTV at the beach restaurant, the Paraíso, until around half an hour after high tea finished, so they didn’t see high tea.
Kate says Madeleine was worn out after a busy day, so instead of heading to the play area, it was back to 5A and a bedtime routine.
So far, things are not looking good.
Now let’s go into bat as to when Madeleine was last seen that day.
Charlotte Pennington, childcare worker, gives a statement that she read a story to Madeleine on 3rd May.
Cat Baker, Madeleine’s minder, is on file with a mangled story. Both in Portuguese and in the English translation, it says 15:25 to 18:00 at high tea. Ouch! But Gerry is playing tennis and Kate was in her running clothes, so it is nearer 18:00 than 15:25. At least Cat places Madeleine in the child group on the morning of 3rd May, back in the child group in the afternoon of 3rd May, out for a sailing trip, doing a dive and swim, and getting picked up by Kate.
Where were the other child minders? Surely there must have been more than one there?
Let me turn to the people serving high tea in the Tapas area. Who were the people on duty and what did they see? The answer is that quite a few people were on duty and what they saw is approximately zero.
Jeronimo Salcedas, 4th May, informal statement. He saw Madeleine at 16:45 near the Tapas bar. By 6th May, his formal statement had turned into “cannot be sure if he had seen Madeleine or the twins.”
Maria Manuela Antonio Jose. Cook in the Tapas bar. According to her, she saw Madeleine having a meal in the Tapas area as she did every day, with other children, at around 16:30 on 3rd May 2007.
The waiters in the Tapas area are a strange bunch. Out of those on duty at the time of high tea, none remembers serving the kids.
The carers who co-existed in the same club area as that occupied by Madeleine are equally notable by their absence.
The club records show that Kate signed the twins out at 17:25 and Madeleine at 17:30. Other children were signed out at or close to those times. I have seen a conspiracy theory that this information is forged, but the statements from the people involved in child-caring and those in the Tapas area were rounded up very early on, so if anyone was nobbled it was done with lightning speed. This would involve a huge number of people organised within hours. Perhaps Cat, Jeronimo and Maria slipped through the net. Perhaps the parents of the other children are keeping quiet on this as they too are part of the conspiracy.
On Wednesday 2nd May it rained in the morning, sufficiently heavily to postpone the planned tennis lessons. From the club activity records it was also enough to postpone a mini-sail for Madeleine’s group, and instead the mini-sail happened on Thursday 3rd in the morning.
Cat remembers meeting David and Jane that morning when the mini-sail was taking place. David makes no mention of this. There is no particular reason why he should, as his children were not taking part. From his statement, he and Fiona took a dinghy out on the sea that morning. Fiona confirms this, and while she does not mention Madeleine being on a sailing trip, she does say that after this trip, she went with Kate to reception, where Fiona picked up her daughter, and Kate picked up Madeleine.
Jane remembers much the same. She was watching a kids tennis lesson in the morning. Later the same morning she went down to the beach with her family, and on the way met David and Fiona coming back from their sailing trip. David and Fiona mentioned to her that Madeleine and Jane’s elder daughter were out sailing. When Jane reached the beach she saw Madeleine and her daughter returning from their mini-sail.
While the conspiracy theorists are willing to disregard everything in the evidence files as being forgeries, lies and more, I am not, so this is the point at which I part company with anyone suggesting a grand conspiracy involving all of the Tapas 9, all of the child carers (except a couple), all of the Tapas staff (with one exception), and all of the people in the resort who saw Madeleine on 3rd May.
Despite what people may think of the Portuguese police, they took initial statements from all those central to the plot in very fast time indeed. By that I mean those people outside of the Tapas 9. Therefore any faked story and agreement to conspire was concocted in a time-scale that is ludicrously small.
According to all the evidence, Madeleine was alive when Kate signed her out of the Tapas area at 5:30 PM on 3rd May 2007.
This simplifies the plot considerably, as Madeleine must have gone missing some time between 5:30 PM that day, and around 10 PM that day.