Madeleine – José da Silva off work?

There are minor pieces of information known about José da Silva that have little bearing on the case. It appears he moved from Luztur to a nearby run-down apartment, he is reputed to be suffering health problems, and he is reputed to be carrying out a menial job.

The last significant piece of the puzzle emerged relatively recently. The other Ocean Club driver was Bernardino da Silva (probably not related). The media has picked up that Bernardino says José da Silva was not at work on 3 May 2007, when he should have been.

Bernardino’s first statement to the PJ does not mention this. Perhaps he thought it was not significant at the time in May 2007. However, he had reported a man he saw around 20:15 to 20:30 in Luz on 3 May 2007, on the basis that he had not seen the man in Luz before.

Given that Luz is a holiday resort with many people turning up for their first and only week in Luz, a person Bernardino had not seen before should have been a common occurrence, yet Bernardino raised this small point with the police. As it happens, the man was tracked to an address near the Post Office, and it turned out he had a five year rental contract for the property. He was of no further interest to the police.

Bernardino gave a second statement to the police, on 6 Feb 2008 (about 9 months after the incident). He was asked why he had made a call at 21:00 on 3 May 2007 in Luz, when his normal working hours stopped at 20:30.

He gave two reasons for working late. The first was that guests needed to be transported late. The second was that some tourists did not have the key to their apartment.

Bernardino did not mention José da Silva failed to turn for work that day. It was an obvious thing to say to explain why he was running late, as Thursday was one of the arrival/departure dates. Missing a driver on that day should have been noticeable.

The sole witness statement of José da Silva was made on 8 May 2007. It is very bland. Perhaps this is due to the large number of witnesses making statements in the early days of the investigation.

He gives his normal working hours as 11:00 to 16:00, except for Thursdays and Saturdays. On those days he started earlier and finished later, as these days were the main arrival and departure days. He does not cover, specifically, whether he was supposed to work on 3 May 2007, and if he failed to turn up, why this was.

So when did Bernardino’s account, that José failed to turn up for work that day, originate, and when did it first surface?

Trying to piece together who said what when in the media spaghetti is a task fraught with risk, but here is my attempt at this.

Heriberto Janosch at EspacioExterior ( was developing a theory of who within the PJ Files might be people who, at the minimum, could supply further information to progress the case. He has been in contact with Scotland Yard more than once, to provide what he had pieced together.

In late October 2013, Heriberto was blogging that José da Silva (then not identified by name) was not at work between 9pm and 11pm on 3 May 2007. This gave José the opportunity to be involved. I do not know where Heri got this information.

A little after that, Heriberto’s blog evolved to this person being absent for the whole of Thursday 3 May, when he should have been working. Again, I do not know where Heri got this information.

In Crimewatch of Oct 2013, there was a mention of an increase in burglaries in the vicinity, in the months preceding Madeleine’s disappearance.

Towards the end of 2013, the media was stating that Scotland Yard was interested in a trio of burglars.

Heriberto’s scenario does not involve a trio of burglars. It involves a single person attempting to enter apartment 5A via the window in the children’s bedroom, with the possibility of a second person being involved later.

The two other arguidos of 2014 inked directly or indirectly to José da Silva were not Ocean Club employees at that time. This means their criminal record, if any, is not in the PJ Files. If someone has knowledge that they were burglars, this information had to come from another source.

On 5th Jan 2014, the Sunday Express ran a story penned by James Murray bringing multiple elements of this tale together. This includes the Scotland Yard analysis of mobile phone traffic and repeats the 3 burglars part. Then it illuminates the article with some information from Heriberto.

Heriberto’s main input is that he wonders if the (lone) man in his scenario is one of the 3 burglars that appear to be of interest to Scotland Yard. Then James Murray appears to write words that fit the overall story, but do not fit Heriberto’s scenario. Heriberto is quoted that multiple burglars entered apartment 5A, when his theorem is that a single person acted alone, and though he opened the shutter and window, he did not enter the flat.

In the printed newspaper, the article states Heriberto says José was not at work on 3rd May 2007.

From then on, of course, this particular element was available to all the media, whether it was deemed important or not.

This has evolved to the stage where Bernardino da Silva is attributed as the source of the information. I cannot confirm whether this is correct.

However, if José da Silva was supposed to be at work that day but wasn’t, it would be prudent of Scotland Yard to enquire why. This in itself does not appear enough to make him an arguido. Since an arguido can refuse to answer questions, while a witness is obliged to answer questions, it appears more sensible to clear up this element by making him a witness.

So, José da Silva was an Ocean Club driver. He lived nearby. He made 3 phone calls and 1 text to Ricardo Rodrigues (another person to be made arguido) in the evening of 3 May 2007. If you bash the time time-line hard enough, you can get a degree of match to Tapas 9 movements, though there are obvious problems with this. He had the word ‘furto’ (theft) hand-written next to his name on a list of employees.

At this point in time I am still thinking ‘witness’, not ‘arguido’, therefore I am wondering if there is more. One example of more might be that Ricardo Rodrigues had a record of burglary, but I hasten to add I have no evidence of this.

Another might be that someone calling Crimewatch re Smithman might have named José da Silva as a match. Again, I hasten to add I have no evidence of this. Further, the programme was broadcast in the UK, with equivalents in Germany and Holland, but not in Portugal. It is the case that ex-pats in Portugal had access to the programme, whilst local Portuguese viewers probably did not. This would mean identification by a non-Portuguese person, which seems to be of low probability.


2 thoughts on “Madeleine – José da Silva off work?

  1. da Silva is a very common Portuguese surname, it seems. However, I would be very curious to know if José bears any relation to Tiago da Silva, aka man who ‘lost’ the bunch of keys to block 5.

    • I haven’t checked that yet, partly because I don’t believe the lost keys story, partly because I intend to write a piece on each witness to see if I can work out what SY was doing. That piece is some way off. If you cannot contain your curiosity, just look up the McCann PJ Files.

      In both Spain and Portugal, the police record the full names of the witness’ father and mother.

      That’s all I did to conclude that José and Bernardino are probably not related.

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