Madeleine – Luz tour – the McCanns did it #1

Anyone starting a tour of Luz with an open mind would include the possibility that the McCanns did it, whatever ‘it’ is.

This requires a bit of slicing and dicing to cover the possibilities of what ‘it’ might have been. The first major fork is looking at whether ‘it’ is disposing of a body, or whether ‘it’ is concealing a body successfully despite an extensive search, retrieving the body at a much later date, and then successfully disposing of the body.

Please bear in mind I am not saying any of this happened. I am simply considering the logistics of such acts, and where a visitor to Luz would need to go to understand the territory.

The second major slice and dice is considering whether this was an act planned in advance, or whether it was hastily required on 3 May due to unforeseen circumstances.

Personally, when I go away on holiday, I like to do a bit of research first, to see what there is of interest in the area, and then we normally hire a car so that we can mix a bit of exploring in with a bit of relaxing.

There is no evidence that the McCanns did much research beyond reading the Ocean Club brochure. In my opinion, the brochure portrays the Ocean Club as Luz, which is not true, and implies that facilities like Baptista supermarket and the post office are somehow connected to the Ocean Club, which they are not. Other commercial facilities in the area, such as the Chinese and other restaurants, the many bars and alternative play areas for children do not get a mention. The church, Nossa Senhora da Luz, does not feature. The Roman fish plant on the sea front is ignored. There is no mention of the cinema.

There is minimal evidence of intent, by the McCanns, to explore let alone actual exploring. Personally on such a holiday, I would have taken a double buggy for the twins if I thought anything off the Ocean Club complex was to be visited. Of course, with two adults and three young children in tow, the amount of luggage space already taken up by clothes and supplies may have made transporting a double buggy unattractive.

Kate’s book “Madeleine” makes it a single trip to the beach with the three children. There was no intent to visit Lagos, say for the marina, or Lagos zoo, which our grandchild of Madeleine’s age thinks is a wonderful day out.

Putting the children in their respective clubs each morning and each afternoon further constrained any opportunity to explore. After Madeleine disappeared, Gerry had to ask if there was a church in Luz, so it looks as if the McCanns had not visited the central area around the church. Nowadays, there is a small shop opposite the church selling ice-cream in 12 different flavours. I have no idea whether it existed back then. But it is a delightful pleasure to get a child an ice cream there, then walk downhill past the Fortaleza to the square below, which has seats and a stunning panoramic sea view.

The McCanns appear to have gone to Luz with the mind set of the Ocean Club firmly fixed. There was the opportunity to learn and play tennis, and food was to come from the Ocean Club.

After they tried the trek to the Millennium, they ruled it out as a place for breakfast. That particular walk, of around 650m, is relatively flat and so it is fairly easy for an adult. However, most of it runs along a 2-way traffic artery, which although it is 2-way, is an integral part of Luz’s one way system, so it is usually busy until late at night. For two adults with 3 young children and no buggy, I would classify that journey as difficult to very difficult and unpleasant. So the Millennium got dropped for breakfast, which is logical, and Baptista was used instead. That is not a major change, as Baptista would have been the place to buy lunch items, so tacking on breakfast food was hardly onerous.

That the group decided to book the Tapas restaurant each night from Sunday on is a bigger change. At 650m away, use of the Millennium would have meant the child-checking routines implemented would have been impossible. Either the children would have to be taken along, with the barrier of that difficult 650m walk for the McCann family. Or the children would have to be taken down to the Ocean Club night crèche, a walk of 300m (short way, unlit) or 350m (long way, lit, but with another main road.) It’s a load of hassle versus easy.

I have not reconstructed the Tapas Restaurant menu. It seemed to have a fair range, but it looks like it was using relatively repetitive cooking methods. Even though the dinner and wine was included in the price, personally I would have passed on the Tapas Restaurant for one night just to have something different.

Luz had an Indian restaurant just south of Baptista. (It has since closed, but two others have opened up.) There were small and large Portuguese restaurants nearby. There was a simple Italian restaurant nearby, complete with activities for small children. There were a number of English restaurants close to block 5. There were two Chinese restaurants slightly further away, now closed. The other Chinese, the one still open and near the Smithman sighting, has a large tank of Koi carp that little kids love to press their noses against and gaze at the fish.

None of these restaurants was close enough, in my opinion, to make feasible the baby checking system used by the Tapas 9, and none has any view of block 5 whatsoever.

Most owners who rent out properties here provide an information pack on the facilities, both of the apartment or villa, and of the features of Luz, including restaurant types, locations and phone numbers.

With 4 different apartments being rented by the Tapas 9, it is odds on one or more of them had such a pack. It is highly likely that this information was available to the adults in the group. It could be they were ignorant of this information. It is more probable that such information had been seen, but a collective choice was made to take the easy route and put the children to bed in block 5, then go to the Tapas Restaurant nearby.

Luz has another guide feature. There are several organisations who provide free maps, distributed from dispensers outside shops etc. These come in 6 or 8 ‘slices’ of the Algarve, with a complete collection mapping commercial organisations along the whole of the Algarve. The slice for this locality covers Luz, Espiche (the village to the north of Luz), Lagos, and Almádena and Burgau (to the north-west and west of Luz respectively).

It is normal to include one or more of these maps in the information pack to renters. If not, you see them widely on the streets of Luz. The maps are paid for by adverts for the bars, restaurants etc. featuring on the map.

I have yet to see one of these free maps that does not use the church, Nossa Senhora of Luz, as a feature point (without an advert of course). Anyone who had browsed one would have known where the church was, and indeed have a map to get to it.

The picture I have so far is that Kate and Gerry were relatively uninterested in Luz, and seldom ventured outside the Ocean Club complex (or Baptista) though there a couple of notable exceptions.

There is no evidence of car rental, a car loan, a friend with a car, the use of a taxi or the use of the local bus, at least until Madeleine’s disappearance So one challenge any ‘McCanns did it’ theorem faces is in the first stage, when disposal or concealment has to be on foot.

The time available for such an act starts at the time when Madeleine and the twins were signed out of high tea at the Tapas area. I am excluding conspiracy theories that involve other parents at high tea, the child minders looking after the children, and Tapas staff serving the children. There are other places where you can get more information on such conspiracy theories, and you’re probably aware of them already. So my clock starts ticking around 5:30pm.

I am not going into the David Payne visit, when it occurred and how long it lasted. It is possible to construct a simple conspiracy theorem that explains this. Since it makes little difference in a ‘McCanns done it’ theorem, I will leave the clock starting at 5:30pm.

I now have to layer on the challenge of Baptista supermarket. Mrs Jenny Murat indicated that she popped into Baptista for bread, shortly before it closed at 8pm. The Wayback Machine confirms that closing time was 8pm. Due to the traffic system of Luz, Rua Dr Martins, the road that runs down the hill from apartment 5A to the rear of Baptista, is busy until the supermarket closes, then it becomes quieter. So it is necessary to add the customers of Baptista coming and going, and staff leaving after the supermarket was closed.

Of course, there is also the consideration of customers of the Tapas restaurant that night, coming and going at various times, whether to eat in or to get a take-away. I haven’t checked the Tapas staff start times to see if these are before of after 5:30pm.

Into the mix I am putting the lighting conditions. I don’t know what time sunset was that evening, but I’m not sure it has much relevance. On one 3rd May I stood outside 5A around 9:15pm to consider the Tannerman sighting (and later I had a look at the Smithman sighting). The key thing about 9:15pm was that my eyesight was changing from daylight vision (colour) to to night vision (black and white). Colours were washed out and distorted by the yellow glow of the sodium street lights.

I have no comment to make on the colours reported by Jane Tanner. She is a fair bit younger than me, so her eyesight should be better.

Instead, I am making the point that anyone walking in Luz with a package the size and weight of Madeleine was taking a real risk in being spotted in lighting sufficient to permit a clear description.

My clock stops ticking at the time Kate McCann raised the alarm, at 10pm or shortly thereafter.

Whatever was done, if done by the McCanns, had either finished or the first stage had been carried out by then.

So the window of opportunity in the ‘McCanns did it’ appears to 5:30pm to 10pm. The logistics are made very daunting by multiple factors. Based on evidence, the McCanns were largely ignorant of Luz outside of the Ocean Club. They were restricted by movement on foot. Between the Tapas Restaurant and Baptista Supermarket, actual traffic or potential traffic, and movement on foot made a disposal from apartment 5A highly risky. From then until the light faded, the risk was reduced but still high. From the time the light faded to 10pm, the risk was significantly lower, but for most of that time the McCanns were in the Tapas restaurant.

All in all, the logistics of the ‘McCanns did it’ are looking to make this theorem well-nigh impossible. As it happens, it can be done, but it is extremely unlikely.

I need to cover the exceptions to the idea that the McCanns were in almost complete ignorance of Luz outside the Ocean Club.

The trip to the beach with the three children, using a double buggy borrowed from the Ocean Club, was via a route I did not know existed until the route was explained. Take your pick as to whether the McCanns somehow already knew about this, or whether they simply asked Ocean Club staff how to do it. They seem to have taken a different route back, and if so, they had a basic understanding of some of Luz outside of the Ocean Club.

On p49 of Kate’s book “Madeleine”, she wrote “there would be a rare chance for Gerry and me to spend time together playing tennis, going for a run or just relaxing”. Without actually checking, I cannot remember a reference to Gerry running in the PJ files.

On p66 of Kate’s book she wrote that on the afternoon of 3 May she “opted to go for a run along the beach, where I spotted the rest of our holiday group”.

On the esplanade in Luz there is a sign that explains what the sea water is tested for re quality, and what the results were. On every reading I have seen the results were much, much better than the standard required, so I tend to get annoyed when people who have not visited refer to sewage pipes draining into the sea. The pipes that drain into the sea are rainwater drains, not sewage.

On the same sign it lists the length of the beach of the Light. That’s praia da Luz to you, with a lower-case p, not a capital P. Luz comes from the church, Nossa Senhora da Luz (Our Lady of the Light), not from the beach of the Light (praia da Luz).

The length of the beach is listed as just over 300m on the testing sign. In the Imperial system, standard walking speed is taken as 4mph. If you convert this to metric, it comes out roughly as 100m per minute. So if the beach is 300m long and standard walking speed is 100m per minute, it should take around 3 minutes to walk it.

Of course, most people dawdle, frolic, and sometimes go as far as chatting to one another, even to strangers. Kate wasn’t walking or dawdling, she was jogging. Unless she did laps of the beach, she did some jogging elsewhere in Luz.

Luz is compact, though hilly. Both the downhill bit and the uphill bit are quite challenging, though well within the capacity of Kate’s jogging ability.

In Matthew Oldfield’s rogatory statement, he says he went jogging with Kate on Wednesday lunchtime, and found it hard to keep up with her. He says they ran until the route met up with the junction of the main road (which is the N125), and the distance was 3 or 4 miles each way.

There are two routes from apartment 5A to the N125. One is up Rua Primeiro de Maio to the junction near Espiche. That is up a steep hill out of Luz, but it is only about 1,200 metres, far short of a mile. So that route can be ruled out. The other route is east along the old road out of Luz towards Lagos, in the valley below Boa Vista golf course. At around 3,000m, this is still more like two miles than three or four. However, it is by far the best match for their jog.

The route is basically flat, and I would class it as unpleasant. It is the very old road that ran between Lagos – Luz – Burgau. As such, it is 2-way, narrow, and in far from pristine condition. It is still busy as it is the shortest route from Luz to Lagos. So, flat but lots of traffic on a narrow 2-way road.

Matthew also indicates, somewhat vaguely, that Kate might have gone running on other days, without indicating where or how often.

In summary, Kate’s running and the trip to the beach appear to be the only instances of the McCanns exploring outside of the Ocean Club complex.

If this is correct, the McCanns were basically ignorant about Luz.


One thought on “Madeleine – Luz tour – the McCanns did it #1

  1. Certainly very ignorant (because not concerned) about Luz.
    You progress on a detailed and cautious manner, SIL, and then suddenly, hop, jump to conclusion…
    “All in all, the logistics of the ‘McCanns did it’ are looking to make this theorem well-nigh impossible. As it happens, it can be done, but it is extremely unlikely.”
    Let’s consider 22h03, an extraordinarily precise time, the kind that remains in memory for ever.
    “It” could be just getting rid of, a terribly heartbreaking move though, unavoidable or considered so.
    The CPP sanctions it only with a fine.

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