Textusa v Neil Berry and Raj Balu

I read Textusa partly because it has some interesting challenges on it and partly because I know it is going to influence people, whether it is correct or not.

On Friday 30 Jan 2015 I read Textusa’s latest post – Two men and a baby (cot).

My initial response one of excitement, given that block 6 is one of the better locations for observing apartment 5A, the McCann residence.

The gist of Textusa’s post is as follows. Ocean Club laundry worker Mario Marreiros had a strange encounter with a person in the stairwell of block 5 around 7:30 to 8pm on 3rd May, whilst collecting laundry. According to the Mirror, Mario identified Neil Berry as 80% likely to be the suspicious individual. Neil Berry had no reason to be in the stairwell of block 5. The statements of Neil Berry and Rajinder Balu are full of contradictions, things that make no sense if you examine them logically.

This is interesting stuff indeed.

My initial problem was that Mario’s story is recounted in the Daily Mirror on 29 May 2013, as linked to by Textusa. The link is http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/madeleine-mccann-witness-saw-weird-1918572

That is not a source I would trust instinctively, and the date, some 6 years after Madeleine’s disappearance, gave me cause for concern.

Neil Berry’s statement is dated 23 Apr 2008. Rajinder Balu’s statement is dated 28 Apr 2008. This improves things as they are about a year after Madeleine disappeared. That means Mario’s story must have triggered a rogatory questioning of both men, which in turn means Mario must have identified Neil Berry as the suspicious character he saw sometime before those dates.

So far so good. Now we hit some problems.

The Mirror story says Mario saw his suspicious character on 2nd May 2007. Mario’s statement, dated 8 May 2007 and quoted by Textusa, said he saw nothing suspicious in the days before Madeleine disappeared.

It is also the statement in which Mario says that on 3rd May 2007 he started work around 10am, finished around 6pm, as per his normal routine.

The Mirror story puts the strange sighting at 7:30 to 8pm on 2 May 2007, therefore well outside Mario’s norm, but so what – exceptions happen.

But the PJ did not ask Neil or Rajinder about 2nd May. They asked only about what happened on 3rd May. With Neil they asked why he had been spotted in the stairwell of block 5 on 3rd May around 6pm. Not the 7:30 to 8pm of the Mirror, and not the 2nd May of the Mirror. They asked Neil if he had seen a laundry worker in the stairwell of block 5 at 6pm.

So Mario’s evidence, presumably given to the PJ after his initial statement but before Neil and Rajinder were questioned, must be that his strange encounter occurred in the stairwell of block 5 around his normal clocking off time of 6pm, on 3rd May 2007.

Hopefully for Mario that is how it went. If it was 7:30pm to 8pm on 3rd May 2007 (or on 2nd May 2007), Mario has put himself firmly in the frame as a suspect. His normal hours might well end at 6pm, but in the Morror story he works late for whatever reason. The Ocean Club laundry is where the cleaners pick up the keys to the apartments they are going to clean, and it is where they hand back those keys. In other words, Mario could well have had access to the keys, he was familiar with block 5 and vicinity, and he was prone to hanging around late.

It almost certainly did not happen this way. In his statement, Mario leaves at his usual time around 6pm, and goes to his home which is outside Luz.

Nevertheless, Neil Berry and Rajinder Balu were definitely interviewed with respect to this incident, so it is now on to the rest of the story.

The Mirror put Mario’s encounter at a stairwell near apartment 5A. The stairwell of block 5 is near 5A. The stairwell of block 4 is near 5A. The two stairwells of block 6 are near 5A. So which stairwell are we talking about?

Let’s try block 4 first. Textusa said that the car parks of block 4 and block 5 are separate. This is correct for cars, however they are joined for pedestrians. (The route referred to as route 2 on Textusa’s post is not a dead end. It works for people on foot.)

I am certain of this for the simple reason that I visited the spot a few days away to make sure that in my Mission Impossible 1 post I was not bullshitting. So I went into the block 5 car park, then to the passageway between block 5 and block 4. At the north end that passageway also opens into the car park of block 4, so pedestrian access from the car park of block 5 to block 4 is definitely possible.

Think it through logically. For anyone coming out of the (central) stairwell of block 5, going anti-clockwise is the long way round, therefore it makes little sense. That passageway acts as a shortcut only for block 4, therefore simple logic says it should connect to the block 4 entrance, which it does. Matthew Oldfield says he used that odd, long route from block 5 on his 9:30pm check in 5A. It is a very strange route from block 5, but the simple fact is the car park of block 5 connects to the north end of that passageway. Ditto block 4.

This brings us to where Neil Berry’s apartment was located and what was going on.

Textusa has shown the record that Neil Berry was in block 6, in apartment 606, and not in 4G as per Neil’s statement made in April 2008. I think this is excellent work by Textusa, sifting through the records and coming up with facts which progress understanding of the case.

Therefore it is important to work through the facts of the matter to see if an even better explanation is available. Hopefully, showing where laundry worker Mario’s story in the Mirror does and does not match up with the files is one example. Clarifying that pedestrians can pass from block 5 to block 4 without needing to use the car park entrances/exits is another.

What of the cot? The one that is central to Textusa’s thesis.

Travel cots are not small items. They take up a lot of space and if you are flying from England to Portugal you tend to notice whether your luggage contains a travel cot or not.

Since Neil did not recognise the travel cot and Rajinder did not recognise the travel cot, the simplest explanation is that it was not with either of these families on the flight to Portugal. If that is correct, the likeliest source is Mark Warner or the Ocean Club.

Here is where I speculate, so please notice that what I am doing is speculating. As in, I have no evidence whatsoever, therefore I am definitely in minefield territory.

Was the cot was provided by Mark Warner for the Balu’s on their arrival in Luz on 28 Apr 2007? Alternatively, was a cot was provided by the Ocean Club on 3rd May 2007, when the Balu’s realised they were cancelling their Tapas restaurant booking and also cancelled the night crèche booking?

To be honest, I am not keen on either of these explanations. There are problems with both.

Swiftly moving on, the cot defeats 4 adults in their attempt to make it into a workable state. Neil alone or Neil with another person goes to the Ocean Club 24 hour reception and gets someone back to block 6 to show them how to erect the cot. Clearly, this suggests that the cot came from Portugal.

As to why someone from Portugal needed to erect the cot in block 6 in person is a little tougher. Perhaps it is the language barrier. Personally, I could not explain that I have a travel cot that I cannot make work, whilst speaking in Portuguese, if my life depends on it.

So the story again moves on. Somewhere around 8pm on 3rd May 2007, Neil and Rajinder go to the Tapas restaurant to get a meal to eat as a take-away.

Textusa asks the question – as the Balu’s were already booked in to the Tapas restaurant, why didn’t they just make up from a booking for 2 to a booking for 4? This is an excellent question.

Textusa has already answered this question. The Balu’s booking required special permission from Steve, presumably as it exceeded the number of ‘free’ dinners the Tapas restaurant would be paid for by Mark Warner. Another two was simply two too many.

{As far as I can see. WordPress simply will NOT let me post a full answer in one go.  It looks like the rest needs to go in a second post.  Sorry!}

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