Madeleine – Smithman challenge 3

Here are the key points so far.

There are two official campsites just outside Luz. To use these for an overnight stay, there is a charge.

There are two sites within Luz that motor homes use free of charge. The first is on the flat, baked earth road running from the west end of Rua da Calhete in the direction of Burgau, though it is a quiet, no-through road. The second is the mound, aka the snail, aka the small hill, which lies in the large parcel of undeveloped land searched by Operation Grange in the June 2014 Luz dig.

Here is the information we now have to put into the mix – the statement of Kirsty Louise Maryan.

She worked in childcare in the Ocean Club. She had worked there in July to October 2006, and had returned to work in the Ocean Club on 21 March 2007.

This adds up to around 4 months knowledge of Luz, perhaps a little less or a little more. Basically, Luz was not her home turf.

On 3rd May at around 22.30 she was with two colleagues, Leanne (Wagstaff) and Sarah (Williamson), when they were informed by Amy Tierney that a search for the missing Madeleine McCann was underway, and the trio joined in the effort.

According to Kirsty –

An individual of the male sex, in Praia da Luz, next to a café whose name she does not know, was playing a guitar until the day of the facts, now under investigation. On the night Maddie disappeared and while she was involved with a group searching, mentioned prior, they encountered a vehicle, whose make and model she does not know, of white colour, commercial, parked on top of a hill, where, she cannot identify. At this point, some of the group elements banged on the window of the vehicle and the back doors and saw the person who habitually played the guitar on the beach. He was covered with blankets, reading a book and drinking a beer, with the help of a flashlight. Questioned, they were not able to observe in detail the interior of the vehicle. She add that the individual was asked whether he had seen a minor of about four years of age and the same responded, jocularly, that on that night, no one knocked on the doors of his vehicle.”

Neither Leanne Wagstaff nor Sarah Williamson mentions this encounter. Although all 3 relate they were going out together that evening for a drink when they bumped into Amy Tierney, perhaps the ‘group elements’ does not include them.

This boils down to the busker from the beach was parked overnight in a white van on the top of a hill that Kirsty cannot identify. Add two places in Luz where motor owners sleep overnight, one of them flat on the seafront, the other on the mound, and you have …

There is the issue of why Kirsty was unaware of the location of this hill, given that it is close to the centre of Luz.

Kirsty’s experience of Luz was about 4 months in total. The whole of the Ocean Club is to the east of the mound, with no reason to visit the hill. Nearly all of the bars and the restaurants are also east of the mound. The only realistic reason for Kirsty to have visited the mound would be if she was in a place like Kelly’s or the Bull, was driven home, and the driver knew enough about the Luz 1-way system to use the road beside the mound to get to 2-way roads. Kirsty had very little chance of knowing where the hill was.

Of course, final confirmation that this encounter occurred on the top of the mound would have to be given by one of the 3 searchers – Kirsty, Leanne and Sarah – or by the man they encountered – Barrington Godfrey Norton.

Mr Norton was interviewed by the PJ, his van (a white Ford Escort) was searched and he was eliminated from enquiries.

The final issue to consider is why Operation Grange failed to make this connection. Just as Kirsty had insufficient local knowledge to identify the hill, so Operation Grange lacked sufficient local intelligence to identify Kirsty’s hill as the mound. And so the costly, long, hard slog of the June 2014 Luz dig ensued.

Perhaps the interesting thing is that the GNR had insufficient knowledge of Luz and the case to realise why the dig was doomed to failure. Ditto the PJ. Ditto any PIs past or future appointed by the McCanns.

The bit that intrigues me is what went into the ILOR requesting the dig. And why did anyone in Portugal approve this? Of course, that person probably know little about the case, next to nothing about Luz, and would not have been able to tie Kirsty’s hill to the mound. But what was the request by Operation Grange and why was it deemed sound enough to throw vast resources at it in a joint police effort?

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