Why did the child-disappearing-in-Luz incident occur in 2007, rather than 2006 or 2008?
A trivial answer to the 2008 question is that once Madeleine disappeared, lightning was not going to strike twice.
Forget that. If Madeleine had not disappeared on 3 May 2007, would a different child have disappeared in 2008 in Luz, or even at another time in 2007? And why was it that no child disappeared in 2006 in Luz? Was 2007 special? Was 2007 different?
It turns out that it was.
Please turn to George Robin Crossland. I believe he prefers to be called Robin, so I will stick with that,
He made two statements. The first is mainly about what he did on the night of 3rd May, although he does say he was in Portugal since 1982 and was manager of the Ocean Club since 1984.
The second statement is more interesting. The Ocean Club was ‘owned’ by 3 people including Robin, plus another company that has 37 properties in the area. The 3 owners of the OC decided it was time to exit the business and feelers were put out.
Mark Chitty (half of Mark Warner) heard of this and visited Luz in January 2006. Mark liked it so much, he and his partner Andrew Searle, decided to buy out the Ocean Club. That is exactly what they did after about a year of negotiations.
There are details here that I think are important. Mark Warner bought the Ocean Club for €1.85 million, which is peanuts. That would not buy you the ground on which the Ocean Club stood, let alone the properties. So I’m thinking that the Ocean Club is, technically, the shared areas (24hr reception, Tapas reception and pool etc.), whilst the individual properties simply had a contract to lease to the OC for holiday lets.
This means we have a legal entity, roughly the Ocean Club, hiring cleaners and gardeners in Portugal. And Mark Warner, hiring tennis instructors and child minders in the UK. Technically, Mark Warner required a legal entity in Portugal, but that is irrelevant.
So, what was the situation in early 2007?
Mark Warner had bought out the Ocean Club. However, the legal entity known as the Ocean Club continued to hire Portuguese staff, and Robin Crossland remained in his job position to facilitate the transition. Thus some staff saw themselves as working for the Ocean Club, while others saw themselves as working for Mark Warner, irrespective of the fact that Mark Warner owned the Ocean Club.
So what, if anything, changed in 2007, following the Mark Warner takeover?
That would be a Mark Warner booking system. The one that flagged up the Tapas 9 group as ripe for plucking.
It did not exist in Luz in 2006. After Madeleine disappeared it was not relevant. There was never going to be a repeat disappearance.
Obviously, I cannot prove that this is the way the disappearance happened. However, you do have a new system in place in 2007 that highlighted the Tapas 9 on Luz radar.
I have not seen a copy of the Thomas Cook booking system, and quite clearly one must have existed. I would expect it to break passengers down by whether they were adults or children, and also to have some way of conveying requests such as location or children’s requirements. This is particularly the case if there are discounts for children. The current Thomas Cook search system asks if holiday-makers are infants (up to 2), children (2 to 17), or adults (18+) on the date of return.
If it turns out the Thomas Cook system had similar detail to the Mark Warner system, then the addition of Mark Warner in 2007 may not be significant.
Logic says that Thomas Cook probably had something close to the data recorded by Mark Warner. However, as Mark Warner and Thomas Cook had different arrival procedures this is not necessarily the case. Note that the Thomas Cook breakdown in its search system, (infant, child 2-18 and adult) is not as detailed as the Mark Warner data.
If Thomas Cook operated a fairly similar database, then the year 2007 is possibly not important. After all, if such a system was in place in 2006, then why did a child not disappear earlier?
What may not have appeared earlier was a request to place a group of 4 families in close proximity, together with 8 children aged from infants to 3 years. That request on the Mark Warner list is looking highly suspect.