Maria Viegas supervises the cleaners and describes the system used regarding the keys.
The cleaners normally work 10:00 to 18:00, with an hour off for lunch. Most take their lunch in the laundry area.
Maria works 09:30 to 18:00. She has a day and a half off per week, with no fixed schedule re days off. She visits the apartment to replenish bedclothes and cleaning products.
A single copy of each key is held in a safe in the laundry area. Maria suggests there may be another copy at reception. There is no master key. The system is a unique key per apartment.
The cleaners get keys and assignments at the start of each shift. It is normal for a given cleaner to work the same apartments repeatedly. The cleaners hand the keys back at the end of the shift, where they are checked by a supervisor and locked back in the safe.
So a given cleaner has access to multiple keys for the duration of the shift. One cleaner says she took lunch-breaks off site, without handing the keys back There appears to be no check on the keys during the shift, only at the end.
Note Maria works 09:30 to 18:00, but rather oddly she was on site cleaning in the Ocean Club until 21:20 on 3rd May, without anyone asking why. In her statement she says she worked in blocks 2, 3 and 4.
The Ocean Club numbering system is quirky. There are several block 4s. Around apartment 5A the numbering is block 1, block 2, block 4, block 5 and block 6. Block 3 is the block on the map that is not part of the Ocean Club.
Blocks 2, 3 and 4 would place Maria to the north of Millennium restaurant, roughly 650m from apartment 5A on foot. Maria states that the laundry area was by the Tapas Restaurant, which suggests she must have gone back that way to return the keys to blocks 2, 3 and 4, right around the time the event was developing.
Apartment 5A was normally cleaned by another Maria, Maria Da Silva, and her statement is intriguing. In it she says that is not normal for other cleaners to work in 5A during the week, but on the Saturday that the McCanns were due to turn up, she had help in 5A from a second cleaner.
At that time she knew that 5 people would be using the flat, without a breakdown into adults and children. During that clean, Mark Warner staff turned up with cots, and that was the first point at which she became aware that children would be using the apartment.
Maria Da Silva last cleaned 5A on Wednesday 2nd May, and she gives an interesting description of the layout.
She says the bed pushed up against the window in the front bedroom looked like it had been slept in. There was only one cot in the room. The other bed, near to the door, did not look like it had been slept in.
According to Maria, the rear bedroom, the pool-side one, also had a cot in it.
Maria’s statement is so odd that I checked when she was interviewed. It was the afternoon of 7th May, so if she got this wrong, she got mixed up very quickly.
Another snippet from Maria Da Silva’s statement is that the apartments she cleaned included 5C, so it was part of the Ocean Club. She was not cleaning it at the time because it was not occupied. Why this was not used for the Paynes to put all 4 families on the ground floor is not clear.
A final thought is that Maria Da Silva says her daughters Fatima and Dora were also cleaners in the Ocean Club, so this trio had legitimate access to a significant number of keys in total.
There was at least one other supervisor handing out keys and tasks to staff at the start of the day and getting the keys back at the end of the shift.
The friend who helped Maria Da Silva to clean 5A prior to the McCanns arrival kept quiet about being in the flat.
A previous occupant of 5A stated that the cleaner would enter the apartment faster than he and his partner liked. Locking the door made no difference, which is what I would expect. He tried locking the door and leaving the key in the lock but says the cleaner still came in. That seems very odd indeed.
In summary, a number of the cleaning staff had legitimate access to the key of 5A with relatively lax key control in place. This does not prove that any cleaner was involved, but it does show the front door of apartment 5A was vulnerable to anyone with a key, and of course, that would leave no trace.