The McCanns v the dogs of death – apartment 5A

There is an extensive write-up on the dogs, what they found in apartment 5A and all the other relevant locations. The article points to numerous interesting videos. Among other things it compares and contrasts the view of the McCanns, dog handler Martin Grime, Gonçalo Amaral and the official PJ files. Beware the contemporary media reports, as they contain basic errors such as the finding of blood on the wall of the children’s bedroom. The article is at

The entire ‘dogs of death’ topic is to big to swallow in one go, so I’m starting with something smaller, namely, what happened at 5A.

The evidence given by the police side (PJ files, Martin Grime, Gonçalo Amaral) has some contradictions between the commentators.

Either 3 or 4 locations were marked by the dogs in and around apartment 5A.

The sources agree that Eddie, the ‘cadaver’ dog, marked an area near a wardrobe in the parent’s bedroom, whilst Keela, the ‘human blood’ dog did not.

There is agreement that Eddie and Keela both marked behind the sofa near a window of the living room (rather than the sofa in the middle of the room).

There is disagreement on whether Eddie alerted on the patio outside the parent’s bedroom.

There is agreement that Eddie alerted in the garden below the parent’s bedroom.

Martin Grime is clear that the findings of the dogs are not sufficient to act as proof. He is clear that it is up to forensics to provide the actual evidence. However, he also states that the dogs never return a false positive. That is, they have never been proved wrong by lab tests, though there are instances where a lab could not find anything, which he attributes to the dogs being more sensitive than the forensic tests.

So Martin is neutral on the dogs’ findings.

Gonçalo Amaral is positive on the dogs. He uses this to support the theory that Madeleine died in 5A, that the parents concealed or disposed of the body, and that they faked the crime scene. This lead him to the tricky position of having to explain how the McCanns could dispose of a body, or worse, conceal then retrieve then dispose of a body. Both are tough challenges.

A report by Inspector Paulo Dias, dated 5 Feb 2008, concludes that the theory that Madeleine died in apartment 5A is the most likely. However, he is wary of placing reliance on the dogs, noting that on many occasions, the dogs would pass a source several times before finally marking it. Check out the Correio da Manha video in the link above and you’ll find Martin Grime re-directs Eddie to cars other than the McCanns many a time i.e. Eddie did not work like a laser-guided missile but would wander about before eventually marking.

The McCanns, having been made arguidos, both reported that they could not explain the dogs’ behaviour when shown a video of the exercise. This is hardly surprising, given that they did not know the dogs’ capability, or what the dogs actually detected.

In her book “Madeleine”, Kate says that, in the interview after she was made an arguido, she watched the dogs being re-directed by Martin Grime, and came to the same conclusion as Inspector Paulo Dias, namely that the video was far from convincing.

The dogs tend to separate most people into either the pro-McCann camp or the anti-McCann camp, and that also tends to be the point at which debate ends.

The pro-McCann camp usually rubbishes the dogs, referring to a US study that shows dogs are unreliable in 75% of cases. I have never seen a reference to this study, and I won’t be looking for one. Madeleine’s case is not about dogs in the USA, it is abut Eddie and Keela.

The anti-McCann camp tends to quote the ‘fact’ that the dogs don’t lie, therefore end-of story. The weaknesses in this assumption are several, but you need go no further than Martin Grime himself says only forensic evidence can act as proof. The dogs are not enough. Both Martin Grime and Gonçalo Amaral play down the places in 5A where Eddie alerted but Keela did not.

A further point overlooked by many on both sides is that, if you look at the detail in Martin Grime’s statements, he is clear that Eddie will alert to blood. Eddie is not a dog that unerringly points to a death having occurred. Decomposing blood will set him off.

So at this particular point, all that was fairly accurately known was that someone human had bled inside 5A, that the blood could have been there for years, and that there is no evidence that the blood belonged to Madeleine. If it is correct that apartment 5A was handed back to the owner, the blood could also date to some time after Madeleine disappeared. Moreover, based purely on the dogs, there was no evidence of a human corpse within 5A, just human blood.

It’s over to the Forensic Science Service (FSS) in Birmingham to see if more can be extracted from these finds.


7 thoughts on “The McCanns v the dogs of death – apartment 5A

  1. I don’t know… you can quote ‘the dogs don’t lie’ and all, but you’re right to recall Grimes himself states they are only an indicator. After that, forensics must be found and analysed for it to be considered evidence. So, without that, and let’s remember, they are absolutely without that, it’s not evidence.

    And yes, the dogs were walked in front of various objects several times before finally marking. Maybe the dog was thinking ‘sod this, it’s quitting time’, or ‘I fancy a bonio and a bit of a scratch’. You don’t know. And the marks led to nothing.

    How accurate are the dogs? There are various reports, as you say. Have a gander at them. How accurate are *those dogs*, as you say it’s about them specifically?

    Well, Grimesy said they’d never got one wrong, whatever that meant. Maybe it was true at the time… it certainly wasn’t after Haut de la Garenne in Jersey, where they alerted to the poor skull of a child victim, which turned out to be a coconut… and the poor wee bones were all hundreds of years old or animal bones… I mean, that was a very embarrassing situation right there… and Eddie was retired from the force soon after. He was a damn good cop, our Eddie. Just not a very reliable sniffer dog, it seems.

    Hate to post from this rag, but there you go:

    This case isn’t quite up to 20 million yet… but old Grimesy doesn’t come cheap, does he? No wonder he’s all on about 100% this and doggies ne’er tell a fib that.

    • Let me reply to your last point.

      Martin Grime (note no s on the end, it’s Martin Grime on LinkedIn) marketed the dogs really hard. They were superior dogs, only trained on humans, unlike their inferior US counterparts, trained on pigs.

      After that, he slips in that Eddie at a young age was trained on pigs.

      He does not cover why it is that dogs that are solely trained on pigs do not only find pigs. How do they find humans if human decay smell is so different to pigs?

      • It has to be uncooked.

        Despite the fact that one much mentioned case was after the car had been torched.

        But if you can, I believe I can hire you out at over £200,000 a year, for a slice of the pie as your agent. Or should that be a slice of the pig?

      • I’m especially good at the uncooked pig… think ‘jamón serrano’, ‘pata negra’, ‘prosciutto crudo di Parma’… no chance of hiding that from me. I’m in… as my agent you get a generous 12.5%.

        Do the Portuguese have similar charcuterie, out of interest? If they do, I will find it.

  2. I would say that Martin Grime is careful and Gonçalo Amaral isn’t since there was no evidence allowing to conclude. Eddie reckons death, but nothing more since death is the great provider of equality. If the victim was suffocated, Keela is of no use at all. What if the murderer bled, the victim not ?
    The alerts in the flat were inconclusive but they certainly were intelligence.

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