Madeleine – the missing mobiles

The mobiles I have been using to map phone mast belonged to the Tapas 9 and to Robert Murat and acquaintances.

As far as the Tapas 9 are concerned, they had 8 mobiles between them in the run up to Madeleine’s disappearance. Fiona Payne did not have a mobile of her own, though she seemed to use David Payne’s mobile as and when.

Things started to get a little odd when Madeleine disappeared. On 4th May, whilst the McCanns and David Payne were in Portimão being interviewed, two more mobiles were taken to the police station, and David picked them up.

As far as I can tell at the moment, whilst the Tapas 9 phones were tracked, mapped and analysed, these two mobiles evaded the net.

The topic is covered in David Payne’s rogatory statement, which is dated 11 Apr 2008.

The route by which the PJ found out about these extra mobiles is unclear. A media report is a likely source, but I have no intent of trawling through all the media reports to find if this is the case,

This being the Madeleine McCann case, the tale of these two mobiles could not be straightforward.

David Payne says that he was in contact with his sister’s husband, Simon Aldrige, shortly after Madeleine disappeared. David rated Simon as someone who could keep a cool head in difficult times, and provide good advice.

David mentioned that additional phones would be of use to the McCanns, and Simon gave him the contact details for friends in the Algarve.

In his rogatory statement, David said the reason for this need for phones was because the batteries in the McCann phones were running flat and they had no charger (or something similar).

Saturday 28th to 3rd of May working without a charge seems very odd, as is the assertion that the couple did not take chargers to Portugal, but there may be a simple explanation.

Simon’s friends in Portugal, on 4 May 2007, went to Portimão police station, and handed over 2 mobiles to David Payne. Presumably the donor was not too far from Portimão to act with this speed.

The Tapas 9 therefore had 2 mobiles, from 4 May 2007, that the PJ did not seem to know about in their phone analysis.

David’s rogatory describes these as Samsungs, with a Vodaphone sim. They were pay-as-you go. They came with around 40 euros of credit on board, and David says this lasted better than their own phones.

That bit makes sense. Portuguese phones in Portugal calling other Portuguese phones in Portugal would get a cheaper tariff than English phones in Portugal doing the same.

Then we get back to quirks. David says the credit lasted for about 3 weeks, then it ran out. He was then unable to top up the phone.

In 2015, one goes to any shop or post office displaying the appropriate sign, tell the assistant the number to be topped up, and pay for it. There is no check that you own the phone or anything else – just a phone number and cash. Perhaps the system in 2007 was different. David was not asked why he simply did not go back to the phone owner and ask for help to top it up.

One phone was used by the Paynes, mainly by Fiona. As she did not have her own phone, this makes sense.

The other phone went to the McCanns. Again this makes sense. The Payne’s and the McCanns could keep in touch with each other via cheap calls. It is simply that these contacts would not have appeared on PJ radar.

Calls from the 8 UK mobiles of the T9 to either of these 2 phones, or the other way around would appear on the PJ records, but not one unidentified number to a second unidentified number.

Then, according to David’s rogatory statement, he did something very odd indeed. When the Payne’s left Portugal, he did not hand the phone over to the McCanns. The phone would have been very handy for calls between Gerry and Kate. Perhaps David thought there was no point, because of the top-up issue.

The strange thing is that he did not re-unite the phone with its owner. He took it back to the UK, and tried to get it to work in the UK. That attempt failed.

When the rogatory interview occurred, David said he still had the phone somewhere, assuming he could remember where. The police officer interviewing David said he would like to pick up the phone when he drove David home, and David agreed to this.

Whether that particular mobile then entered the police chain of evidence, or whether it went un-found, is something I can’t answer. It is obviously pertinent to any current Scotland Yard analysis of phone traffic. Even if the Portuguese sim is not in the phone, the mobile itself should store a considerable quantity of valuable data, even if the phone had not been powered for a year.

In his rogatory statement, David said the McCanns had the other mobile still. It may be that he meant the McCanns still had that mobile when the Payne’s left Portugal.

As to whether Gerry or Kate actually did the same as the Payne’s, and simply took a mobile that did not belong to them back to the UK, again I cannot answer.

Perhaps both the Payne’s and the McCanns got in touch with the owner re handing the phones back, and the owner wasn’t interested for some reason. This sounds unlikely given the cost of mobiles in 2007, but the truth is I simply don’t know.

We are very definitely into unturned stones territory again.

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