José Carlos Fernandes da Silva was one of the four men made arguidos in July 2014. He was employed as a driver in the Ocean Club.
The reason for being made an arguido appears to be 3 phone calls and one text made to Ricardo Rodrigues on 3 May 2007. These are alleged to match with movements of the Tapas 9, though the reality is they are a poor fit.
If José da Silva is involved in a criminal basis, when did he first become aware that block 5 was occupied by potential targets, whether the intention was burglary or otherwise?
The reality is that two quite different routes were used by the Tapas 9 to get from the UK to Luz on 3rd May 2007.
Jane Tanner states that she flew in to Faro airport from Gatwick on 28 May 2007, taking off at 08:30 and landing around 10:00. Matthew and Rachael Oldfield were on the same flight. Jane Tanner further states that they went from Faro airport to the Ocean Club in a Mark Warner bus.
The Mark Warner arrivals list shows the flight was LGW XLA6156, expected to land at 10:40. The discrepancy in landing time is not important. However, LGW XLA6156 had 49 adults, children and infants all designated as going to Mark Warner in Luz, so clearly there was a logistics challenge with this flight, in terms of getting clients from Faro airport to the Ocean Club. The same issue should have arisen on Saturday 5th May, when these people were due to fly back to Gatwick from Faro.
In other words, at certain times there was a need to transport large numbers of clients between Faro airport and the Ocean Club. For arrivals, there was the need to get them to their assigned flat. I have no idea how checkout worked.
So how many drivers did the Ocean Club have? The PJ Files lists only two – José da Silva and Bernardino da Silva (probably no relation). This seems insufficient to cope with the numbers involved and also to make up a 24 hour rota, so it may be that some of the ferrying was achieved by other means. For example, a bus large enough to take 49 people and hired only for the Faro – Luz and Luz – Faro journeys makes more sense than shuttling 49 people in mini-buses.
The Paynes travelled with the McCanns and did not fly from Gatwick, so the transfer arrangements were different. Gerry McCann had organised a mini-bus at Faro airport, which handled the 5 adults, 5 children and their luggage. David Payne says that took them to the Ocean Club without incident. In his rogatory statement, he seems to imply that the same vehicle then took them to block 5.
However, Fiona Payne is clearer on this this. The mini-bus that Gerry had organised took them from Faro to the Ocean Club reception, where they all got out with their children and luggage. David or both men then went inside reception and booked them in, while Fiona remained outside with Kate. There was about a 15 minute delay before a Mark Warner mini-bus arrived, and transported them to 5A. Fiona gives very little information about the driver, other than he was male. There is no information as to whether the driver helped either party move their luggage into apartments within block 5.
The check-in process for those flying from Gatwick seems to have been quite different.
According to Matthew Oldfield, they were picked up at the airport in a bus, and given keys to their apartment while on the bus. The bus took them to outside the Tapas reception area, and from there Mark Warner staff helped them move their luggage into their apartments.
Rachael Oldfield confirms that a bus picked them up at Faro airport, that it had Mark Warner staff on it getting forms filled in. First she thinks that keys were given to guests whilst on the bus, then she thinks they may have been dished out at reception, without saying which reception (OC 24 hr or Tapas).
Matthew says the Paynes and the McCanns arrived later by taxi, and he went out to greet them. Quite clearly, a taxi was not going to stretch to 5 adults, 4 children and their luggage, therefore Matthew must have seen the mini-bus, or not seen the vehicle at all.
In summary, the O’Briens, the Oldfields and the other Mark Warner guests on flight LGW LXA6156 were transported from Faro to Luz in a large bus, while Mark Warner staff went through the check-in procedures on the journey. They were dropped near their accommodation and assisted to it by Mark Warner staff. In contrast, the Paynes and the McCanns transferred in a mini-bus or people carrier pre-booked by Gerry, got out at OC 24hr reception, checked in, and then were driven in a Mark Warner or Ocean Club mini-bus to block 5. Kate McCann confirms it as a Mark Warner rep at the beginning of chapter 4 of her book “Madeleine”.
José da Silva’s statement says he drove within the OC resort. It does not say he did airport transfers. Bernardino da Silva’s statement is more vague.
A group of 5 adults with 5 young children should have been memorable. Neither José da Silva or Bernardino da Silva recollected the McCanns, in terms of interacting with them prior to Madeleine’s disappearance.
It may be, of course, that neither driver took them from OC 24hr reception to block 5. It could be that any other male driver was rustled up, and consequently that person has not been asked about this short trip.
If arguido José da Silva did not transport the McCanns from the OC 24hr reception to block 5, and so know that the McCanns were in 5A, then the media speculation that he knew which flat was ripe for burglary is short of supporting evidence.
There is also another obstacle to overcome. Both drivers had the right to drive the mini-bus that took the McCanns to 5A. It would be reasonable to expect the DNA of both drivers in that vehicle. It would be reasonable to suggest that DNA from them in apartment 5A was simply cross contamination from the mini-bus. Further, if the driver helped the McCanns by entering 5A with their luggage, trying to rule him into a crime on this basis would be very shaky indeed.
So, apart from weak phone evidence and weak DNA evidence, is there any other reason to suspect José da Silva? There must be more to make him an arguido, surely?