Mission Impossible 1

Apartment 5A, the flat occupied by the McCann family, is usually depicted as being vulnerable to a break-in.

Kate’s version is in chapter 4 of her book “Madeleine”. “We were told by the British police that the ground floor location, access to roads front and side, secluded entrance and partial tree cover made our apartment a prime target for burglars and other criminals.”

In “A Verdade Da Mentira” (The Truth of the Lie), Gonçalo Amaral notes that apartment 5A does not have any major security features. The front door is a simple wood-panel door, with a basic lock. The patio doors at the rear have a simple shutter and basic security only.

In the graphic, block 5 is north of the swimming pool. Rua Dr Agostinha Da Silva is north of block 5. Rua Dr Francisco Gentil Martins runs down from Rua Dr Da Silva, passing first the side of apartment 5A, then the Tapas restaurant, before continuing on to Baptista supermarket (not shown on the diagram).

Outside the front (north) of block 5 there is a walkway. This is separated from the car park by a wall of about a metre high, with an entrance/exit around the middle of the block. To get to the front of apartment 5A, 5B and 5D, you have to use that entrance/exit. This is marked with a bright green dot. This is also where the stairwell is to access upper levels.

The car park is surrounded by a wall that from the inside is about one metre high. Cars enter and exit through an entrance that is roughly in front of 5B.

There is a second route for pedestrians. Running between block 4 and block 5, a passageway opens into the car parks at the front of the blocks. At the rear, the passageway runs roughly West-East, from the back of block 4, past block 5 and into Rua Dr Martins. This is marked by darker green dots.

Block 4 is essentially a clone of block 5.

On the graphic, which dates to June 2007, you can see that there are trees all the way around the inside of the block 5 car park. These are very much at their densest at the same level as the street lights, so they make the car park and the front of block 5 quite dark.

Mission Impossible 1

The orange dots are the streets lights. These are spaced out at roughly 20-25m intervals, and are fine for the pavements and streets. The issue here is that they are sodium, and colour everything an orange shade, but the light level is perfectly adequate.

There are no lights on the passageway between block 4 and block 5, and none on the passage that runs to the rear of these two blocks.

In brief, making it from the central point in block 5 to the car park access means a short journey in relative dark. Once out of the car park the light is good. However, going anticlockwise around the block means there is very little light until you come out on Rua Dr Martins, and that path is about 50m longer than the clockwise well-lit route.

The only person I am aware of using the long, dark route, from statements I have revisited so far, is Matthew Oldfield when he checked around 9:30. This detail doesn’t matter too much as he checked the front first.

I have marked the entrance/exit of the Tapas area with a red dot, and put another red dot at the car park entrance.

Anyone leaving block 5 is visually sweeping out the whole of the car park.

Assuming the person goes clockwise (bright green dots) , our hero then passes out of the car park entrance, turns right and can clearly see the east end of Rua Dr Da Silva. At the corner, another right turn takes our hero onto Rua Dr Martins, where you can see all the way down to Baptista. Head down the hill to the Tapas area and another patrol is over.

Going the other way, from the Tapas restaurant to block 5 (red dots) visually sweeps out more or less everything around block 5 not covered by the opposite route.

Turn left to head up Rua Dr Martins and the car park opposite the Tapas reception is in clear view, then the north end of Rua Dr Martins itself. Then a left turn at the top completes a check to the west end of Rua Dr Da Silva. This is followed by a left turn into the car park, which provides another check of this area.

The trees that obscured the street lights in the car park that night have foliage that is above head height. That is, anyone walking or driving along Rua Dr Da Silva can see ground floor windows and doors of block 5. Equally, anyone looking out of a ground-floor window of block 5 can see pedestrians and cars on Rua Dr Da Silva.

Add in Gerry’s check at the rear of 5A and Matthew Oldfield’s check at the rear and it is almost as if there were security guards on constant patrol around block 5.

Getting into 5A, kidnapping Madeleine and getting out again strikes me as akin to Mission Impossible if the Tapas 9 timeline is to be believed. The police report shelving the inquiry came to much the same conclusion.

Your mission, if you accept it, is to get past all these checks and more, gain entry to 5A, snatch Madeleine McCann, carry her away, then evade the subsequent searches. Are you up to this challenge?


8 thoughts on “Mission Impossible 1

  1. Hi, am back. Great piece… Will respond in detail. One thing I notice from your graphic, though… there seems to be quite a blind spot in the top-right-hand corner of foliage, because the car-park entrance is much further around than I had thought. It depends somewhat on the state of the plants at the time (which, as I mentioned, were reportedly thinned and trimmed right down after the event, also supposedly with a lighting upgrade, but you don’t think that happened?… if not, maybe the gardening work made the areas lighter at night?). So could someone have hidden on that side without being seen by somebody leaving block 5 from the north side? Visually it seems a goer from the angles presented and your lighting scheme… there’s darkness, and it’s out of the way… but was there cover too? Small detail, but maybe pertinent. Plenty of darkness and shrubs on the other side, of course, and all around, as you say.

    You see, having not been there to see the geography of the flat and surroundings, I was relying on still and clips from the reports and documentaries. That left me with an idea that there was a pedestrian gate or space to pass somewhere a lot closer to 5A that the checkers were passing through when not using the patio doors. You moving (not that you did) the car park entrance around increases the distance to travel a good degree, making these checks that bit more of a traipse and increasing the walking distance between parents and children. Another glass of wine and a snail with garlic do seem more appealing to doing that non-stop on a holiday… now, I’m not a parent, but how many times do you do that in a group doing the same before you say ‘ah sure, they’re grand… top me up’? Not saying they were sloshed at all. But I tend to relax when I’m enjoying a tumbler of vino, and I think that’s the case for most people. Adding in another dog’s leg, minor as it is, does increase the ‘pain in the arse’ factor of checking the children significantly.

    Justifying, understandably, the state of affairs, early on the McCanns were stating it was only 50m. Perhaps it is as the crow flies, but they weren’t levitating across to check. A patio-door check on 5A would be significantly more than that, table to doors, right? Supposedly they used to check using the front door too. What metre measurement is there on a round trip on that, say, or even, a check on 5D?

    • I don’t think the distance is important.

      Standard walking pace is 100m/minute. (Slightly under the UK’s 4 miles per minute).

      Therefore 50m is 30 seconds away. 70m is 45 seconds away. Apartment 5D is probably around 100m away, which I would make around 60 seconds.

      What I would expect is that the checks coincided with natural gaps, rather than being timed. So a check after starters and before mains, not every half hour.

      The crying incident, whichever night it happened, strongly suggests there were gaps of more than half an hour, and these were group-wide gaps. If Matthew Oldfield was checking 5B every half hour on the crying night then the crying could not have taken place. It did, so he wasn’t. Mrs Fenn got the time of a parent arriving back correct, which suggests she got the 75 minutes right. As in, perhaps that night there was a check between starters and mains, then nothing else, despite stopping out for an after dinner nightcap.

      Taking some of the checks out means it makes Madeleine’s disappearance easier to explain, but that explanation is still tough. It is still akin to Mission Impossible.

  2. ‘Moving scales’ – thoughts on a timeline

    ShininginLuz recently posted a comprehensive timeline for the night of 3/5/07 which incorporated the final revised statements on the matter from the Tapas 9. Inconsistencies and contradictions from original statements can be allowed for, to a certain extent. As posted, that is the general consensus presented by the group for what happened on the tragic night. If you asked them to put their names to a timeline now, that would be pretty close to what the wish to declare.

    (Scale 1)
    As far as the accuracy goes, we have three possibilities, we’ll say, using an imaginary line from left to right, on the one left-hand extreme, the timeline as reported is 100% factually correct, in the middle you have it being partially correct to varying degrees, and partially incorrect, and on the extreme right-hand side, you have the timeline being 100% fabrication.

    I’ll let you judge for yourselves where you wish to place the marker. Personally, I’d lean towards excluding each extreme- the most simplistic case for doing so is the discrepancies in the statements meaning there is likely inaccuracy present, whether deliberate or not, and at the other end, it would be incredibly difficult for 9 people to come up with a timeline that matched at all but was 100% fiction, given the little time they had before their first statements and the chaos of the situation. So, I’d be moving that marker to somewhere between the two extremes.

    One major problem, of many, with how the various interviews took place, was that, though the later, more detailed statements do go through the holiday day by day, there is simply not enough emphasis placed on the checking routine. Focus of course falls on 3/5/07, but what about the other nights? Ideally, tough as it might have been, a grilling regarding the frequency of the checks on all other nights would have been illuminating.

    So what kind of ‘system’ were they running, and what kind of ‘system’ do the T9 imply? They state that as Mark Warner didn’t have a ‘listening service’, they decided to do their own. That would imply entry to the apartments would not be necessary to constitute a check, nor would a parent necessarily be checking just their own apartment. But, what contradicts that, is the suggestion across the board that they were indeed performing constant checks on their own children which involved entering the apartment.

    What you have, in effect. is 9 adults; 4 couples each with a child/children, and a grandmother. One of those couples (the Paynes) claimed to have a functioning baby monitor, so they never checked their kids during their meal/drinks, or at least did so less frequently, so let’s put them and their family aside for a moment. You’re left with 3 couples with apartments to check.

    (Scale 2)
    How often did they claim to do so as part of their fixed routine? Well, each claimed to have independent ‘systems’, and the frequency of those checks ranges in the statements from 15 minutes, to 20 minutes, to every 30 minutes. Again, that leaves you with a scale from left to right of the purported frequency of checks. If they were all checking their kids every 15 minutes, that’s 4 checks an hour times 3 apartments, 12 people walking by apartment G5A each hour, or once every 5 minutes, on average. The 20-minute frequency similarly gives us 3 checks an hour by three apartments, so 9 people passing G5A per hour, thus once every 6 and a half minutes, or so. Maybe the couples varied between 15 and 20 minute checks, but not the McCanns. They rigorously insist on half-hourly checks. So, let’s say the right-hand extreme allows for the other couples to be exaggerating their checks a bit, and say they checked less frequently as the McCanns suggest they did themselves. That leaves twice hourly checks on three apartments, so 6 checks per hour.

    So the extreme right of the least frequent checks, allowing for some exaggeration of the two other couples by moving everyone out to the most lengthy gap claimed by the McCanns of 30 minutes between checks, and excluding the Paynes checking at all at any point, has someone walking right around or into that apartment once every 10 minutes.

    These are a group of good friends holidaying together. This is night number six of their holiday. These are intelligent people. Does it really take someone getting up to do a rather circuitous march back to their apartment from the table at the bear minimum of once every ten minutes before they realise their system could be more efficient if one adult were to check on numerous apartments? Yet it takes until night six of the holiday before any check was claimed to have been made on an apartment by someone from the group who was not a parent of the child inside (i.e. Matthew Oldfield’s check at 2130 on the night of the disappearance, being the sole exception according to the statements)?

    This seems odd, but what does it matter, you might ask? The child is gone nonetheless. Ergo, if this is a case of abduction, she was snatched between checks. If there were checks happening between every 5 and every 10 minutes, what does it matter, when somebody knowing a targeted child were in G5A could be get in, snatch the child and be gone in under a minute?

    Well, what it does is it leads to various conclusions about potential suspects and how they might have gone about the crime. Last couple of imaginary scales, I promise. Let’s look at kidnappers (and this will get horrible, so apologies). There are two motives that are apparent.

    (Scale 3)
    Firstly, the one that gives hope: the motive of raising the child. An individual who is perhaps not in their right mind- a mother who has lost a child, or is infertile, or a male wishing to act for such a woman. Let’s place deranged individual on the left, in the middle a couple acting together, and on the right an organised gang who are snatching a beautiful child to order for a wealthy childless couple. That’s the nice motive, and while possible, I’d see it as a long shot at this stage. But it remains a possibility, so it’s in.

    (Scale 4)
    Now, the gruesome motive of paedophilia can be looked at in the same way, and similar conclusions about the modus operandi deduced. On the left, let’s place the lone paedophile acting without assistance. He’s not rational, and needs no major planning or surveillance, as he doesn’t calculate risk. You move from that to the right, and let’s place a calculating predatory paedophile, who has assessed the risks, but is acting alone. To the right again, and you have a gang of paedophiles acting together, calculating the risks and working in contact with one another. These first three are local. Finally to the right, you have the organised criminal gang acting for a paedophile ring for monetary gain. These are not necessarily local, but would be the most professional in the execution of the crime.

    If you’re still with me, well done! 4 scales. Where we place the marker of truthfulness of the T9 timeline (scale 1) determines where we place the marker on the subsequent scale of the frequency of checks (scale 2). This in turn determines where you place the marker, based on likelihood and the necessary actions to complete the crime, on the abduction with the positive motive (scale 3) and the abduction with the horrific motive (scale 4).

    So, over to you. Where are you placing those markers, why, and what are the implications?

  3. If we go:

    ‘Moving scales 1’ – thoughts on a timeline for abduction

    for the above, I should probably add a follow up… sorry… the above got quite long without covering all bases…

    ‘Moving scales 2’ – thoughts on a timeline for conspiracy

    To look at the case from the other side, i.e. the possibility that the T9 are complicit or responsible for the disappearance of Madeleine Beth McCann, having either covered up an accident along the lines of Amaral’s hypothesis, or murdered the child, it’s necessary to move the first two scales dramatically to the right-hand side.

    Scales 1 and 2, the truthfulness of the timeline and the frequency of the checks, must go to the right extreme because they are covering up for some kind of crime, be it neglect leading to death, or murder. They’re not checking on a neglected, dead or murdered child. In both of those cases, also, the scene of the crime becomes one of staging, as both hypotheses require a conspiracy to claim an abduction. Both ideas also involve, simplistically, the raising of the shutters and the opening of the window as the main indicators of an intruder having been in G5A.

    One rather obvious outcome of the T9 wishing to place both scales towards the far left, and hence having an accurate timeline with very frequent checks on all nights, is that it makes it, while in no way impossible, much more risky for an abductor to snatch the child without detection.

    So, logically, a group in that particular situation, I would argue, would be primarily concerned with concealing the major crime of neglect leading to death and the concealment of a child’s corpse, or even the murder of a child, and subsequent concealment of a corpse. That group would be less concerned with making sure people didn’t think they’d been a bit lax on the responsible parenting front.

    Put it this way- if you were busy faking an abduction, would you not wish to make it as plausible as possible that a kidnapper could have had ample time to complete the crime? Clearly, if you and your friends are checking those kids all the time, it does make it tougher on the abductor, whom you have invented, to be able to realise his fictional goal which you’ve also invented to get you off the hook. And if he can’t realistically do that, then you’re in the slammer.

    So, would you not, then, logically, relax the rigour of your fictional checks to allow the opportunity for your fictional villain to complete the criminal action? If you’re checking all the time, that becomes less likely, and that’s precisely the line you’re looking to sell. One of the first questions people would ask would be ‘how on earth could an abductor have managed that, if you were being so careful?’ Suddenly, your get out of jail card seems fairly worthless. Would a group of 9 intelligent adults conspiring together to escape a conviction not have realised that rather obvious result of concocting a false timeline of routine checks in quick succession?

    So, in a nutshell, if the T9 were complicit in a crime which led directly to the disappearance of the child, and they were banking on pinning the crime on an imagined abductor, would they not make it easy on that imagined abductor to manage to succeed in his imagined crime without major difficulty?

    There’s a bit of a paradox here… to a certain extent, the further left you move scale 1 on the truthfulness of the timeline towards 0% invention, the more difficult it is for a kidnapper or kidnappers, real or imagined, to abduct the child, and hence, logically, the more likely it becomes that a conspiracy of the T9 has taken place. However, the further right you move the timeline towards 100% invention, and zero checks, the easier it becomes for an individual or group to have snatched the child without detection, planning or clear risk of detection or apprehension.

    It’s not definitive, because, depending on motivation, modus operandi and serious planning or the lack of calculating risk, it would have been possible for even an individual, let alone a group, to have completed the crime within a minute, so even with the most frequent checking suggested, the abduction remains a distinct possibility.

    But, the fact remains, ironically, that the less honest Tapas 9 have been in their statements regarding the timeline, the better the opportunity was for any kind of kidnapping, and the more it becomes likely they are completely innocent of involvement in the disappearance of Madeleine.

    So just how much credence do you afford the Tapas 9?

    • A test for the timeline is, hopefully, straight-forward. Check the original statements of the T9, made on 4 May 2007, before they had a chance to get together and confer on what they thought was best.

      Overnight on 3-4th May, the McCanns moved in with the Paynes, while the Oldfields and ROB/JT seem to have hunkered down together. Statements were given on 4 May, before the group as a whole had the chance to draw up a group view.

      These initial statements triggered doubt in the minds of Gonçalo Amaral etc co., and so they should. Gerry is clear that both he and Kate used the front door, the long way to 5A. They had one key so to achieve this required key-sharing of some form. However, in his first statement, for whatever reason, Gerry says Matt used the short route via the patio doors, no key necessary.

      This isn’t an error of memory. It is out-and-out lying, trying to make the security and checking of 5A fit into a respectable pattern (and failing dramatically). This gets the group (or 6 members thereof, as the Paynes had a baby monitor) off the ‘child neglect’ charge. Which seems to be in their best interest, no matter what actually happened to Madeleine.

      Yes, this fortress 5A does decrease the probability of – a paedophile – a planned abduction – a burglary gone wrong. And even the unlikely ‘Madeleine simply wandered off’.

      In so doing, it increases the probability that the McCanns are guilty of something, from child neglect up.

      I will get round to dissecting the initial T9 statements shortly, but first my focus in on this week’s Textusa post about Neil Berry and Raj Balu, and the tale of an OC laundry worker in the stairwell of block 5.

      It is turning out to be a particularly long explanation, probably because Textusa weaves particularly long articles. But the bottom line is interesting.

      Thanks to Textusa drawing my attention to it, I am now comfortable that there were 4 people eating a meal and drinking on a balcony at the rear of block 6. I don’t know if this (606) overlooks the rear of 5A, but it certainly overlooks the car park to the rear of block 6 aka opposite the Tapas entrance.

      If I accept Mission Impossible, I am going in through the patio doors, whether I have a front door key or not. But Neil and Raj have just made that another notch more difficult.

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