There are so many timelines around that I decided to go back to the earliest statements and see what came out of those. The statements used came from every member of the Tapas 9, and were made on 4th May 2007. Later statements have not been used. These statements were made before there was a significant chance of collusion, and probably before the group knew that they would be scrutinised over detailed timings.
So what follows is the consensus virgin timeline, dating to 4 May 2007.
8:30-8:35 McCanns arrived at the Tapas restaurant.
A little later Jane Tanner arrived.
8:45 Oldfields arrived at the restaurant.
8:45-9:00 Russell O’Brien arrived
8:45-8:55 Paynes and Dianne Webster arrived at the restaurant.
8:55-9:05 Matthew went to do a check on 5A, 5B and 5D. He returned to the restaurant shortly after.
9:00-9:15 Gerry checked 5A, then chatted to a fellow tennis player. He returned to the restaurant around 10 minutes later.
9:15 Jane Tanner went to check. She saw Gerry chatting to Jeremy Wilkins. She saw a man walking across the top of the street, carrying a child in his arms. She checked 5D only.
9:25 Starters were served.
9:30-9:40 After eating starters, Matthew and Russell went to check. Russell stayed in 5D to look after a sick child. Having checked 5B, Matthew went anti-clockwise around block 5, into 5A, saw the twins, went back to the restaurant and said all was fine.
9:40-9:45 Jane ate her main course quickly and went off to exchange places with Russell. However, Russell remained in 5D for a few minutes longer.
9:50 Russell returned to the restaurant.
10:00 Kate went to check 5A. Madeleine was missing. Kate searched the apartment, then returned to raise the alarm.
Different people remember somewhat different versions of times. Given that, until the alarm was raised, they were just a group of people on holiday wining, dining and chatting to friends, it is hardly surprising that this is the case.
Collating these, though, would have raised a number of questions in JP minds. Matthew says he checked 5A before the meal began. Others say Russell and Matthew went in the gap between starters and mains.
Matthew says he arrived at the restaurant at about 8:45 and around 8:55 he did his first check. Why?
Some events would evolve in subsequent statements. In his first statement, Matthew Oldfield had the Paynes and Dianne Webster arriving at 9:00pm, while he timed his check at 9:05. That would mean he wasn’t chasing the Paynes up and couldn’t have passed them en-route. This would be revised.
The Paynes and Dianne Webster are extremely vague about who was checking and when. That is what I would expect if they knew their baby monitor was working fine.
Rachael Oldfield was not checking, therefore I would expect her to be vague about the details. Quite the opposite is true. She seems to have a better grasp than anyone else.
Possibly the main concern of the JP at this time was sheer frequency of checking, and how difficult that makes an abduction. To fit in between Gerry’s check at around 9:05 and Kate at around 10pm, the relevant checks on the front of block 5 occur regularly, and the Russell O’Brien/Jane Tanner swap does not fit into an existing pattern It is entirely unpredictable.
Jane Tanner entered/exited block 5 around 9:15
Matthew and Russell entered block 5 around 9:30. Russell remained in 5D, a bit of a loose cannon. Matthew checked the 5A interior, using an odd route. However, if the McCann frequency check report is accurate, that visit inside 5A is predictable. It’s just that Kate should have done it. Jane Tanner returning to block 5, around 9:40, is unexpected. Russell makes things difficult by hanging on in block 5 for a few minutes before going back to the restaurant.
This ignores other possible checks, like Jeremy Wilkins walking past block 5 towards his apartment in block 4. The people leaving block 6 at 9:58. Anyone who came from or went to any of the apartments that are in block 5 but not on the ground floor, thereby passing via the central stairwell of block 5. Neil Berry and Rajinder Balu do not appear to have made a formal statement before April 2008, nearly a year after Madeleine disappeared, so it looks like they were not on the PJ radar in the early days. However, they make cracking apartment 5A somewhat tougher.
A planned abduction is looking very much like Mission Impossible, so can it be done?