When did Madeleine first appear on the radar? When was she first spotted as a potential target?
For the moment I am ruling out 1st person – aka Madeleine herself, as in woke and wandered theories.
I am also not considering Kate or Gerry McCann. Everything gets complex with that, and I want to check the simple solutions first. That is 2nd persons ruled out of consideration for the moment.
On top I am putting the rest of the Tapas 9, the 3rd persons, to one side, for this one. They all got early warning that Madeleine would be on board, but why would they get involved in a crime in Portugal, rather than in the UK? That avenue is worth evaluating only if I can discard more straight-forward options.
Therefore I am up to considering a simple question. When did Madeleine first surface on the Luz radar?
If 1st person is not relevant, and 2nd person is not relevant, and 3rd person is not relevant, then when did Madeleine turn up in a 4th person view?
From memory, Kate was putting Madeleine into a nursery. Therefore she would have to have told the nursery that Madeleine would be absent while she went on holiday.
This approach is junk. So Kate told the nursery, and someone from the nursery did what? The McCanns were taxi-driven to the airport that they flew from. More junk. Everybody on the plane they flew on might have seen Madeleine, but this is all junk. Up until this point, the destination could have been anywhere the Algarve, and criminals don’t fly to Portugal in the hope that there will be a target for them on the same flight. Madeleine is not on the Luz radar because of this.
So when did Madeleine appear on the Luz radar? (Side note – I have no reason to believe that Madeleine was a/the target. The radar could have been looking for something else.)
As far as I can work out, the start point is when the booking was made with Mark Warner. At that point anyone taking the booking in the UK had knowledge of the T9 in a fair degree of detail. That includes all of the adults gender and age, the number of children, and gender (mostly) and age of each child.
It is reasonable to assume the person inputting the booking details had a fair degree of knowledge of the general layout of the Ocean Club. Booking notes include requests for allocation to a preferred area within the OC. They also note microwave requests, and say the customer has been informed they will be charged at the OC for this.
The microwave request/charge struck me as odd, because I would have assumed every OC property had a microwave. And the idea that on arrival day, OC staff took microwaves from a central store to the relevant flats, with the reverse happening on departure days, strikes me as ludicrous.
Of more relevance, Mark Warner staff in Luz were alerted to names, numbers and details at an early stage.
Kate’s book “Madeleine” and/or the Tapas 9 statements suggest the booking was made in very early 2007.
Whether that date is significant depends on whether Mark Warner staff in Luz were seasonal or not. Staff like the tennis instructors and the child minders were seasonal. One tennis instructor started on 18th March 2007, the other on 23rd March 2007. I can’t see how one can run a Mark Warner sports holiday and with childcare without these.
This strongly suggests everything Mark Warner staff did in Luz was seasonal, with a start date of around early April 2007, or a bit before. That would be the time at which MW staff in Luz needed to work on new arrivals, became familiar with the system, became familiar with the Ocean Club, and presumably those handling arrivals had the opportunity to become aware that the McCanns were coming.
The number of cots requested for Mark Warner for 28 Apr 2007 (McCanns arrival date) was 20. When a Mark Warner client requested a cot it was Mark Warner staff who put the cots in, not Ocean Club staff. We have this from the lady who cleaned apartment 5A, Maria Da Silva. She knew nothing of the set-up of the apartment until MW staff turned up with cots.
So 20 cots had to be put into apartments. This happened after any previous occupants checked out, and before new arrivals turned up.
However, the MW staff doing this had been given a copy of a key the evening before. Thus on the evening before, the arrivals staff knew which children were going where, and were in possession of a key. (Warning – I cannot re-find where I got the information that they were given a key the night before. So I may have to retract that part.)
Going back to the MW arrivals list for that day and one entry sticks out like a sore thumb. Every booking is atomic, in that it is set up for one family only, going into one property.
But David Payne handled the bookings for all 4 families in the T9 and his name appears as the contact re all 4. http://www.mccannpjfiles.co.uk/PJ/ARRIVALS.htm
In order to assemble the 4 families as near to each other as possible, the following comment appears on the McCann booking “3 cots required for L Payne, S McCann and A McCann. Please allocate apartments as close to each other as possible. The Payne and McCann family will arrive in the resort midday on Saturday.”
The note re 3 cots is very odd. It was normal practice to request cots on a per property basis. A cot had already been requested for the Payne family, presumably for infant S Payne, age 11 months. Why the Payne booking did not simply show 2 cots, and the McCann booking show 2 cots is strange. Whether MW were to deliver 3 cots or 4 cots is unclear.
However, the entry indicates that the 4 families want to be together. And that information was available to MW arrival staff in Luz from when the season started in 2007.
Specifically, they knew that infant G Oldfield, age 19 months, Miss E O’Brien, age 3, infant E O’Brien, age 18 months, Miss L Payne, age 2, infant S Payne, age 11 months, Miss M McCann, age 3, Master S McCann, age 2, and Miss A McCann, age 2, were likely to be close to each other.
MW staff almost certainly did not get long advance notice of which family had been allocated to which apartment. The nature of the Ocean Club is such that the OC staff could have taken the requested accommodation, 2 T2s and 2 T1s, from a wide choice of options and kept the families in close proximity.
The occupancy rate was around 50%, so the options of solving the proximity request had few constraints.
What did the MW arrival staff not know that may be significant?
They did not know the gender of infants.
They did not know the precise ages of children who were not classed as infants. Madeleine was classed as age 3, despite being very close to 4.
None of the Tapas 9 prebooked their children into kids’ clubs, though many other families did.
Perhaps Madeleine was a target all along. Perhaps the McCann family was a target. But it could be that the entire T9 group was of interest, then with 8 children all under 4.
None of this analysis proves that Mark Warner arrival staff were involved in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
It does suggest security weaknesses in the arrival system that were open to exploitation.
What I cannot find is staff who say they were responsible for putting cots into apartments in the PJ files. This would be staff in general, but specifically staff putting in cots for MW clients.
Cleaner Maria da Silva says that MW staff arrived at apartment 5A, while she was cleaning with a friend, and that was when the cots arrived on the scene. She does not name or number the MW staff. I would have thought that two cots could be done by one person, but the Tapas 9 required 6 cots in total, so perhaps it was two.
So where have these cot assemblers disappeared to in the files?
Madeleine was on their radar long before she arrived in Luz. As were other children, including those of the T9.
Hypothesise for a moment that Madeleine was not a specific target, and all that was being looked for was a female child aged 2 to 3.
Mark Warner, with its childcare facilities, attracted many families with such a child. These would all have shown up on Mark Warner arrival lists, including arrivals before 28 May 2007 and arrivals after 28 May 2007.
Luz radar, in the form of Mark Warner arrivals, was lit up like a Christmas tree with potential targets. Maybe Madeleine drew the short straw.