Madeleine – Luz Tour #6

Luz Tour #6 took place on 1st May and 2nd May 2017, just before the 10th anniversary. It was with a UK press member, Michael Havis. I was somewhat apprehensive, given that I had already been flame-grilled by a UK tabloid that had never spoken to me in any way, shape, or form. Things went better this time round, and I consider I received a much more balanced evaluation.

We met up at a hotel in the west of Luz, had a chat for a few minutes, then headed into Luz on foot.

Our first stop was at Rua das Flores. I wanted to show why it made sense for the McCanns to haul rubbish out of their rental villa by car, hence the stinky boot story. The bins are at the entrance/exit to the urbanisation, not easy to get to on foot, but chuck a plastic bag full of rubbish in the boot and everything makes perfect sense. Including a stinky boot.

Off we headed down Rua 25 de Abril to look at the place where Operation Grange dug up the mound. Visitors seem surprised by the size of it. The key details pass them by. It is an integral part of the Luz one-way system. There were two nearby restaurants which opened in 2007, though whether they managed it by May 2007, I don’t know.

Critical point #1 is the statement of Kirsty Louise Maryan. She was up a hill in Luz with two other nannies in the early hours of 4 May 2007 when they encountered Barrington Godfrey Norton, who was sleeping rough in a Ford Escort van. The only place I know of in Luz up a hill where people park camper vans overnight is this mound. I don’t have confirmation from any of the 4 people involved in this encounter that it happened on the mound. It is simply the only place that fits.

We walked through much of central Luz and arrived at the Ocean Club. I was becoming very tired. I took Mr Havis part of the way along the short route between the Tapas reception area and the Ocean Club night crèche. Along the way we saw that the adults-only swimming pool had no water in it. The next day we would find that the indoor pool was also empty of water. Basically, the Ocean Club is dead.

Near the adults-only pool, the short route goes up half a dozen steps, then it goes down a large number on the other side, and I didn’t want to do that, so we parted and Mr Havis continued exploring on his own. It seems he ended up on the sea front for a meal.

He liked the café enough that we met up there at lunchtime the next day, and it was packed. The visitors included large Portuguese groups, presumably down from Lisbon, extending the Labour Day holiday.

On the sea-front promenade on the way to the café, I had been accosted by a charity collector. This brings my encounters with charity collectors in Luz to 6. 4 of these have been calls to my residence, and each of these I would consider suspect. The other 2 have been in busy public areas of Luz, and both of these I consider genuine. Mr Havis was relieved to hear I considered the promenade charity collector to be genuine, as he had made a donation on his journey to the café.

I explained the story about the alleged tunnels and O Pouço to Mr Havis, so he asked if we could have a look, and we did. Then it was back to the front for the renovated Paraíso, where the Tapas 7 went on 3 May 2007, the market stalls where Gerry bought sunglasses on the McCanns trip to the beach, and up Rua Praia da Luz.

This street has at least two components in the Madeleine story.

John Ballinger apparently lives on this street. I knew that previously, but what I didn’t know before was that he appeared on the Sky 10th anniversary special. He explained to roadworks that were open on the night of 3 May, and from his photos, he appears to be the source for a picture in the press. Mr Ballinger said he had reported the roadworks to the police, which implies at that time he was of the opinion it was a missing child who woke and wandered, rather than an abduction.

The other feature on Rua Praia da Luz is the Duke of Holland restaurant/bar. It was taken over and has since closed down, but in 2007 it was run by June and Paul Wright. When the news was made public on 3 May, one of the pair immediately joined the search for Madeleine, while the other closed the Duke later, then got involved in the search. After this they were checked re whether Robert Murat was around apartment 5A that evening, as they knew Mr Murat and could recognise him. Despite returning to the vicinity of 5A several times during searches, Mr Murat had not been seen.

At the top of the beach road we turned left on Rua Direita and headed SW. This also has a number of items of interest on it.

First, the roadworks in the files were being done on this street.

Then there is the Luz Sporting Club. This is one of two places in Luz I suspect Sr Euclides Monteiro may well have been on that evening. His widow has said he was at home in Portelas (about 15 minutes drive from Luz) on 3 May 2007, composing a poem on his computer. I suspect he was in Luz, with friends, watching the big game. There were lots of places in Luz to watch the football that night, but only two where the predominant language was likely to be Portuguese and where the predominant culture was likely to be Portuguese. So Mr Havers took a photo of the club for his stock.

The we went to the Ocean Club reception. Things have changed somewhat with Madeleine’s kids club no longer there, and the indoor swimming pool in disuse.

I didn’t fancy the large flight of steps on the short route used by the McCanns, so we opted for a slightly longer route that is set up for wheelchair users, hence there are no stairs. This is probably the way the nannies moved the children from the kids club to the Tapas zone because it avoids a steep flight of stairs and it is ideally suited to Sammy Snake, the preferred way of getting the kids to walk together.

As it so happens, this goes between Fiji Palms block and Casa Liliana. Fiji Palms was the location of the Carpenter family. Casa Liliana was the home of Robert Murat and his mother Jenny. This is the approximate point at which Stephen Carpenter and Robert Murat met on the morning of 4 May, when Mr Murat learned what was going on, and he went to block 5 to offer his services as an interpreter.

We then headed to the Tapas reception, using the same semi-circular route taken by the Carpenters when they left the Tapas zone on 3 May.

Mr Havis was being pressed by his editor to file at least one story by his editor while he was still in Luz, so he wanted a photo to go with it. This is the one he picked.

After 2 days of Luz Tour #6, I was very tired physically. Mr Havis was going to head back to his hotel, apparently to converse with a colleague. I had just enough gas in the tank to walk home. We did not discuss what either of us would be doing on the 10th anniversary.

I have no idea how Mr Havis spent most of his day on 3 May 2017. I decided that I only had the capacity left for a stab at one trip into Luz, so I picked the 10th anniversary ceremony at St Vincent.

There I bumped into a contact from AFP from Luz Tour #5. He was back down after another 3 hour trip from Lisbon, so he has more stamina than I have.

As it happens, I took the extremely grainy photo of Mr Havis with Reverend Haynes Hubbard that appeared in the UK press.

And yes, I missed the chance to introduce myself to Mr Martin Brunt of Sky TV. He, and the Sky team, looked like they were working their socks off.

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6 thoughts on “Madeleine – Luz Tour #6

  1. Nice to see you got a slightly more sympathetic piece in the papers. I was going to drop you a line about the savaging I happened upon at the time. Did you up like a kipper. Hope you sued.

    Tell me, you’ve ruled out Smithman. That’s a huge step, and completely central to the case. I can’t say one way or the other, but the statement does suggest an impression the man were not a tourist… so that could mean many things, either Portuguese, resident ex-pat, or other. If it were an innocent local bringing his daughter home, chances are he’d have no idea he’d become so significant to the case, as, by the time that information went public (another discussion in itself) the Portuguese media had pretty much mutually decided not to give the case any more attention in the hope that it would go away.

    I’d have taken a similar approach if I had been investigating, and one of the earliest steps would have been ruling Smithman in or out, or, at the very least, probable or improbable. The sighting tells you so much- if he is guilty, you’re likely dealing with someone local and without the use of or inclination to use a car, and you can profile that individual.

    But, if Smithman is innocent, the numerous, credible and consistent sightings of the various people seen observing the apartment become more significant, and the use of a car in removing the child from the scene much more likely- the ultimate possible destination of the child goes from very local to global.

    You could, of course, have Smithman working as part of a group- but the more people involved and the more carefully planned the abduction, logically, the less likely someone wrote down ‘so at that point, all going well, you walk with the kidnapped child in your arms through the streets.’ He could be an illogical individual working with other illogical individuals, or something could have gone wrong in a logical plan.

    Rule him out, and you’ve two innocent men heading around town in the crucial 45 minutes, one heading the wrong way, with blonde children identical to Madeleine and wearing pink pajamas, unshod and uncovered to the night air. Possible… but if that’s the case, talk about unfortunate coincidence making an already difficult investigation almost unworkable.

    I agree with your look-out point half-way along the alley as viable. Can you see over that wall to the tapas restaurant while standing at ground level, or would you need to get up on the wall amongst the trees?

    Anyway, all the best.

  2. I’m not sure there was an easy way of ruling out either Tannerman or Smithman.

    The alley wall provides an unobstructed view of the Tapas zone, with the exception of parts where shrubs are overgrowing the top. There is no need to climb the wall. All you have to do is stand quite normally.

    • That makes the alley a decent choice for somebody doing reconnaissance. Of course, on the other hand, if somebody walks by, quite likely given the implied traffic, then the man standing in the dark alley for no reason would be extremely suspicious, and I don’t recall anyone happening on such a figure- there were reports of a man observing the apartment from the alley, IIRC. Anyway, as we discussed, there are plenty of places that would have had a similar view for somebody doing that job, shall we say- like the spot across the way with the multiple cigarette butts.

      Now, your suggestion that this occurred is credible, but the purpose would obviously involve communication, unless said spy is the abductor, which is less likely, though possible. If the spy was not the abductor, then a communication between said spy and the abductor(s) would be necessary.

      The article made it seem like you’d suggested texts or phone-calls. As incompetent as the Met. are, they have all the phone records, and you’re the expert on pings and masts. If that were the method, the police would have found it, no?

      Or were you thinking walkie-talkies? Seems a tad bizarre, but possible, I suppose.

      The other logical way that could be arranged would be through a set of signals. Depending on the number of people involved and positionings, visual or audio cues could have been used. What do you think?

      • That passageway has a number of very distinct characteristics.

        It is accessible by the general public.

        It is dark to an extent that someone on it is unobservable.

        It is a cul-de-sac. No through traffic.

        I can stand on it and monitor the T9, whilst being unseen and 100% legal.

        There is no crime whatsoever until I enter the 5A property. In and gone in under 60 seconds. Low risk.

        Obviously, I cannot say it happened this way. Just that it is possible.

  3. Hi Loops
    I’m missing your kind replies to my comments, which I used to get.

    As for fathers running around in PDL with their sleeping children, I cannot help but think, that “tannerman/crêchman” has never really existed and that smithman must have been Gerry McCann himself, who, by the way, has a very weak alibi for the time at which the Smiths claim that they meet him, or the man that they believe(d) could be Gerry. Still I take of course great interest in what elcacraig writes here about the darkness/lights and other conditions in PDL, which seems to be a nice tourist resort, that I’m unfortunately not familiar with, but a place that I would like to visit some time in the future.

    • I think it’s adorable when Scandinavian people attempt humour. Bless.

      There are a good two dozen people placing Gerry McCann at the table in the Tapas Bar at 2155. Seriously, it’s been years since you’ve taken an interest in this case, and you still don’t grasp the basics. You should apply for a job with the Met. immediately. They’d love you.

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