In the December 2014 round of Scotland Yard questions, Joaquim José Marques appeared as a witness, and his past was raked over once more by the media.
He and a friend were convicted in 1996 of the rape of two British girls. The crime occurred on the night of 18 July 1995, on the beach at Luz. Joaquim was sentenced to 5 years. The media reporters do not name the friend though he was also found guilty, and do not mention what sentence he got.
The two girls were aged 17 and 18. Whatever your moral stance on the crime is, a rape in a public place of a female in her upper teens does not match the kidnap of a girl approaching 4 years old.
The media also throws in alleged offences of gun trafficking and drug trafficking, without providing supporting evidence. Again, whatever your moral stance on such crimes, they do not fit child kidnap.
The route by which Joaquim entered this maelstrom seems clear. Two e-fits made by Gail Cooper of a charity collector who had visited her in Luz the week before Madeleine disappeared were made public in Jan 2008, and Joaquim featured prominently in the news that followed.
It appears, however, that this was well after the first time Joaquim had been checked by the PJ re Madeleine McCann. The reports state he was checked out 20 days after the disappearance, and discounted from the investigation.
There is no record of this first check within the PJ Files. There is no record of a second check that apparently took place shortly after Gail Cooper’s e-fit was released. In fact, I can find not a single entry relating to Joaquim José Marques in the PJ Files, despite his prominence in the news.
The first check took place around the 23 May 2007. Gail Cooper’s first statement is dated 21 May 2007, but it does not seem to be the trigger that caused the PJ to check on Joaquim. This would require that the PJ matched Gail Cooper’s verbal description to Marques, or that they were checking on people involved in charity collecting. Both of these seem highly unlikely. If the key interest in Marques was charity collecting, there was no reason to prune him from the PJ files.
The main reason the PJ files were pruned was to remove sex offenders who had been checked and found to have been uninvolved. The sex offender route is a much more convincing reason for the first check, and it fits why there is no material on Joaquim in the released files.
Gail Cooper says her charity collector visited her on 20 April 2007, and he was with her for about 10-15 minutes. Madeleine disappeared on 3 May 2007, just under a fortnight later. In this time period, there was no particular reason for Gail Cooper to ruminate over the collector’s description. The visit was of minor significance, and her trip to Portugal with family and friends was to celebrate her 50th birthday.
Gail made her statement on 21 May 2007, a month after the visit of the charity collector. That she was able to provide a very detailed description at this time is surprising. Only the collector’s shoes went unnoticed. Or did it?
The e-fits Gail made, plus accompanying ‘statements’ to the McCann investigators (to note that one e-fit she rated as ‘very good’ while the other she rated as ‘excellent’) are dated 13 Jan 2008. The person drawing up the e-fits confirmed this date.
So the Gail Cooper e-fits were constructed nearly 8 months after the charity collector visit. The accuracy of these is therefore open to question. Although Gail’s first description is extensive, there is no mention of large or prominent teeth, as per the e-fit.
Events around the time of the construction and release of these e-fits seemed to be rather chaotic. Jane Tanner was shown the Cooper e-fit and was 80% sure that Cooperman was Tannerman.
The UK police were informed that the McCann team would be releasing this information to the public, with a briefing to the media. This prompted Stuart Prior of Leicestershire Police to contact Ricardo Paiva on 16 Jan 2008, to explain what was going to happen and what the PJ wanted to do in respect of this. Ricardo Paiva responded the same day, asking for a considerable list of actions to be carried out, including a further interview with Gail Cooper, and an interview with her husband, John Cooper.
The reason for this was that the single sighting of the collector by Gail had then evolved into a total of three sightings over two days. Now it was said that the man had been near the Bar Habana when they were there on 20 April 2007, and probably trailed them from the café to their villa, then waited until the menfolk went out before trying his luck.
A third sighting related to a visit to the Paraíso restaurant on the beach, when a man was seen nearby, apparently interested in children from a Mark Warner tour.
The full tale and the details of why the story went from 1 to 3 sightings are at http://www.mccannpjfiles.co.uk/PJ/POWERPOINT.htm
On 18 Jan 2008, Leicestershire Police informed Ricardo Paiva that Iris Morgan had been contacted. Iris had made a single e-fit relating to an incident when two charity collectors had approached her. Iris said she did not recognise the Cooperman e-fit. From this, it was suggested there could have been 3 males collecting for charity in Luz around the time Madeleine disappeared.
On 20 Jan 2018, just 7 days after Gail Cooper’s e-fits were drawn up, the information was released to the media and public, in a presentation described by The Scotsman as drawing heavily on official police appeals.
The contact number for this appeal was based in Spain, and the PJ Files show over 40 people came forward with sightings or information identifying the individual.
None of those in the file was Rebecca Barnes. She was a British woman working in a hairdressing salon in Luz. She was the girlfriend of Joaquim, and according to Diário de Notícias, she was the one who notified the PJ that he was a potential match.
She must have been quick about this, as the second PJ check is noted as being on 23 Jan 2008, just 3 days after the media briefing. Once again, Joaquim was ruled out as being involved in the disappearance of Madeleine. How this decision was reached is not clear, given that there is not a single statement by Joaquim in the files.
From this point on the media got stuck in, and Joaquim became the rapist pig farmer, alleged gun trafficker and alleged drug dealer.
Cooperman also evolved, with various developments to morph him into Creepyman, capable of making blood run cold. http://www.mccannfiles.com/id67.html details this in a fairly long read that shows most of this evolution is in error. The key point is that Joaquim’s reputation, wherever it stood before he was ‘found’, was subjected to a severe beating.
On 26 Jan 2008 http://www.mccannfiles.com/id67.html the Daily Mirror wrote that Gail Cooper had been shown a photo of Joaquim José Marques, and she said “That’s not the man I saw.” So Joaquim was cleared by the PJ in 3 days, and by Gail Cooper in 6 days.
Around that time the McCann team was also concluding that Joaquim was not a match to Cooperman.
By 27 Jan 2008, Gail Cooper had been shown a photo of Joaquim Agostinho, and she said he was the spitting image of the man she had seen 3 times in Luz. Agostinho lived a 90 minute drive away from Luz and was unconnected to the case. This did not prevent the media from featuring his photo prominently.
In Oct 2013 in Crimewatch, Tannerman was identified as Crècheman, and a mock-up was made to check the similarity. If this identification is correct, then any potential link via Jane Tanner between Cooperman and Tannerman bit the dust.
Crank forward to Dec 2014, and Joaquim José Marques was interviewed by Scotland Yard. As all the arguidos had been interviewed in July 2014, it appears his status was that of witness.
The question is, witness to what? The PJ ruled him out, the McCann team ruled him out, Gail Cooper ruled him out. What is it that he possibly witnessed?
Once again, Joaquim José Marques was subject to vilification by the media, despite the fact that there appears to be no valid connection between him and Madeleine McCann, and if Gail Cooper is to be believed, no connection to Cooperman.
Scotland Yard described this phase as precisely targeted. Just one witness of 11 in to the story, it is looking anything but. After being ruled out by the PJ, the McCann team and Gail Cooper, what intelligence was Scotland Yard working on?