Madeleine – Sky special – 2 May 2017

On 2 May 2017, Sky showed ‘Searching for Madeleine’, a special to mark the10th anniversary of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. The presenter was Martin Brunt, who has followed the case for the 10 years since it began. The studio guest was Colin Sutton, an ex-DCI from Scotland Yard with experience of conducting major investigations.

The fist 10 minutes covered the basics. The holiday, the Tapas zone, the initial response to the incident by Portuguese police.

Sky News on 4 May 2007 ran with the story that a 3 year old British girl was missing on the Algarve. Pedro do Carmo, Deputy Director, Judicial Police, described the initial work as a rescue operation, looking for a child that was missing.

Here Sky hit its first wobbly. It says the apartment was let out twice before it was sealed off for a full forensic examination. The reality is different. The PJ from Portimão tried to collect forensic evidence in the very early hours of 4 May 2007. Irene Trovão, also a local forensic officer, was videoed checking the shutter of the children’s bedroom for fingerprints. And while Gerry and Kate McCann were giving their first witness statements, a forensics duo from Lisbon conducted the major forensic examination on the afternoon of 4 May 2007. The forensics had been done. There was no way to foresee the apartment should be sealed off until Eddie and Keela were deployed.

The centrepiece of the Sky programme was a Home Office report written by Jim Gamble, then head of CEOP, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

This documented the many organisations that were involved close to the beginning, and the difficulties this caused. Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary at the time, questioned if Leicestershire Police had the wherewithal to handle this type of investigation. Mr Gamble was asked to consider if it was worth getting Scotland Yard involved. Mr Gamble suggested a scoping review to identify if opportunities had been missed, but officials appeared to be set against this.

Mr Gamble was shocked to find the parents had not been investigated first by the Portuguese police, in order to clear the ground for further enquiries. He went on to say the Portuguese response was inadequate, but he used a comparison in the UK that does not approximate to the situation in Luz in 2007. I will return to that in a future post.

Colin Sutton made the point that a snapshot of the incident area was not constructed, and more could have been done by UK police re interviewing British holidaymakers who had returned to the UK, and British workers in the ‘complex’.

My main criticism of the early effort is that apparently little was done to get door-to-door information in the immediate vicinity of apartment 5A.

Sky went on to cover leaks to the Portuguese press, concerning dog alerts and supposed DNA results. Mr Sutton pointed out that dog alerts are not evidence.

The events around the McCanns being made arguidos, flying home to the UK, and removal of arguido status upon archiving of the case was covered.

There appeared to be a 3-way split between the McCanns, the Portuguese police and the UK police. The CEOP report then makes an odd assertion. It alleges the McCanns had a significant amount of information from their private investigators, and this information had not been fully shared with either the Portuguese police or the UK police. I cannot see how Mr Gamble could reach such a conclusion. Perhaps it is explained in the CEOP report, but I haven’t read that document.

Mark Rowley, Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police, explained there had been a discussion of the case in 2011 between the Prime Ministers of Portugal and the UK, and it was agreed that Scotland Yard would get involved.

The documentary then covered the remit. Colin Sutton explained that a fresh investigation should start right at the beginning. This echoes what was said by Jim Gamble. However, Operation Grange was to be restricted to abduction. AC Mark Rowley says parental involvement had been covered by the original Portuguese investigation. The recent Supreme Court decision made it clear this is not the case.

The Sky documentary moved on to the Jane Tanner sighting. Martin Brunt pointed out the obvious – namely if the man was coming from the Ocean Club night crèche, then he was going the wrong way. Jane Tanner’s rogatory statement pointed out this problem. If the night crèche closed at 11.30pm, It is actually more likely that at 9.15pm, the time of the Tanner sighting, he was heading towards the night crèche.

Scotland Yard presented two e-fits of a man carrying a child ‘towards the beach’. This of course was the Smith sighting at 10pm. Crimewatch 2013 did indeed state this man was heading towards the beach.

This suggests that Martin Brunt does not fully understand the Smith sighting. 12-year-old Aoife Smith’s statement does not fit with ‘towards the beach’. Should Mr Brunt ever return to Luz, I will be happy to show him why Aoife Smith’s statement strongly suggests ‘towards the beach’ is wrong. And why that man is likely to be Portuguese and innocent. Plus why that man is unlikely to come forward. And what needs to be done to get him to identify himself.

The documentary covered Operation Grange’s look at charity collectors. There is an easy test for this. The bogus ones do door-to-door, and disappear rapidly if they make some cash. The genuine ones go to the main thoroughfares and work there for hours on end.

Then Sky covered a burglary gone wrong. Whilst Operation Grange evaluated this as viable, Portuguese police did not think it likely.

The documentary moved to mobile phone data. The CEOP report says there was lots of it, but it was badly handled by Portuguese investigators. It had not been fully analysed, and the Portuguese should accept UK help. This sounds to me to be very over-simplistic, but I cannot be certain as I have not read the CEOP report.

Then the documentary moved to its weakest point, what can be extracted from that phone data. Nothing Colin Sutton said on this has much relevance to Luz on 3 May 2007.

As is normal, there were 3 cellphone operators in Luz – Optimus, TMN and Vodafone. Roughly speaking, each operator cuts Luz into a western half and an eastern half, and that is as much as you get. Was the cellphone active in Luz that night, and if so, was it in the west of Luz or the east.

Take for example Kate McCann. Her phone was active that night on Optimus antenna Luz 2. That antenna covers the east of Luz, and apartment 5A is indeed in the east of Luz. But the whole of the Ocean Club is in the eastern half of Luz, as is the majority of the commercial establishments e.g. the Mirage. I cannot tell from phone data if Kate was in or around 5A when her phone was active. The phone data is very rough.

Further, DCI Andy Redwood has said that a major obstacle to phone data analysis was PAYG phones.

4 people were made arguidos in July 2014, but have now been informed they are no longer persons of interest.

The new Portuguese investigation focussed on a series of sex attacks in the Algarve. It would appear most were on older children, but one was on a child aged 3. Euclides Monteiro, an ex-waiter at the Ocean Club, was identified by the Portuguese investigation as a suspect for the sex attacks. DNA tests ruled out Mr Monteiro. He had been killed in a tractor accident in 2009.

The Sky documentary examined the woke and wandered theory. Local ex-pat Mr John Ballinger provided some photos of the road works in Luz around that time. There was no examination as to why Kate McCann’s description of apartment 5A that night is a poor fit with woke and wandered.

Mr Brunt pointed out that there is no evidence to prove Madeleine came to any harm, so she may still be alive.

Have lessons been learned from the disappearance of Madeleine McCann? Jim Gamble and Alan Johnson think not.

The documentary covered some of the Internet abuse directed at Kate and Gerry. Two police investigations found no evidence of their involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance. The Sky investigation also found no such evidence.

It concluded that the mystery of what happened to Madeleine McCann remains just that. A mystery.

AC Mark Rowley said there is a significant line of enquiry that remains to be pursued, but would not divulge what it was.

On the armchair experts forum that I prefer, the general view was that little was learned from this Sky special. However, that is not the correct view to take, in my opinion. This programme was not aimed at a handful of amateur detectives. It was targeting the greater British public. And for those, I suspect the key point that was delivered was that roughly £12 million down the line, the investigation is fatally flawed because, despite what DCI Andy Redwood said, it did not start by going back to the very beginning.


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.

Madeleine v The Telegraph Ep. 2

The Telegraph story has evolved. It now asks if ‘the police’ are closer to knowing the truth when once it simply asked if ‘we’ are closer to knowing the truth.

Here is the full text of the Telegraph article as published in April 2016 and retrieved today, 21 Jan 2017.

Madeleine McCann latest: are police any closer to knowing the truth?

By Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter

29 April 2016 • 9:41am

In the nine years since Madeleine McCann went missing from a holiday apartment in Portugal, myriad theories about what happened to her have taken root, but only one fact remains uncontested: that she was reported missing at 10.14pm on the evening of Thursday, May 3, 2007.

It was at that point, when police were called, that the clock started ticking on the biggest missing persons investigation for decades, a search which remains very much active to this day.

Facts, the hard currency of any police investigation, have proved almost uniquely elusive; every sighting, every timing and every witness statement has been disputed in the years that have elapsed since.

Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann quickly came under suspicion by Portuguese police, a development that the couple are certain meant vital clues were missed in the first hours and days after Madeleine’s disappearance.

Every possible theory has been explored since then: that Madeleine was abducted by a paedophile; that she was killed during a bungled burglary and her body dumped; that she was abducted by traffickers and sold to a childless couple; that she wandered out of the apartment and died in a tragic accident, and many more besides.

To date, however, not one shred of proof of what happened to Madeleine has been unearthed. The question of what happened to Madeleine would become not only a personal tragedy for the McCann family, but a national obsession in the UK and in Portugal.

Madeleine, of Rothley, Leicestershire, was on the penultimate day of her family holiday on the day she vanished. She had spent part of the day playing by the swimming pool in the Ocean Club resort, where the last known picture of her was taken at 2.29pm.

Reports of when she was last seen alive by independent witnesses vary, but she was still alive at around 6pm, when she and her parents went into their apartment at 5A Rua Dr Agostinho da Silva, where Madeleine and her two-year-old twin brother and sister were readied for bed.

The McCanns told police they put the children to bed at around 7pm, and that all three were asleep by 8.30pm, when they went for dinner at a tapas bar 50 yards across the pool from their apartment. There they met seven friends with whom they were on holiday.

The McCanns say checks were made on their children every half-hour, sometimes by other members of the party, comprising Dr Russell O’Brien and Jane Tanner, from Exeter, Dr Matthew and Rachael Oldfield, from London, and David and Fiona Payne, from Leicester, together with Mrs Payne’s mother Dianne Webster. Mrs Webster, however, reportedly told police that each couple was responsible for checking their own children.

Gerry McCann went to the apartment at 9.05pm, when all the children were sleeping soundly and Madeleine was still in her bed, he says.

The police in Portugal, however, have never accepted the McCanns’ evidence as undisputed. They initially regarded the McCanns as suspects, and believed the McCanns could have killed Madeleine any time after the last independent sighting of her at 6pm.

A timeline of that evening shows that Dr Matthew Oldfield went into apartment 5A at 9.30pm, and noticed that Madeleine’s room seemed lighter than the others, as if the shutters had been partially opened. He could not be certain whether Madeleine was there.

Kate McCann was next to check on the children, at 10pm. She ran back to the restaurant moments later, saying Madeleine was missing. The McCanns and their friends made a quick search of the resort, but after finding no sign of Madeleine the police were called at 10.14pm.

The McCanns told police they had put Madeleine to bed with her pink comfort blanket and favourite soft toy, Cuddle Cat, and was wearing short-sleeved Marks & Spencer Eeyore pyjamas.

Crucially, however, the apartment was not initially treated as a crime scene, meaning around 20 people went in and out before it was sealed off, contaminating potential evidence. Roadblocks were not put in place until 10am the next day, border guards were not informed for hours and Interpol did not put out a global missing persons alert for five days.

It meant that the most crucial time of any missing persons investigation – the first 24 hours – was largely squandered, and police have been trying to catch up ever since. Yet potentially key sightings and artists’ impressions of suspects were kept from the public for years.

Mary and Martin Smith, from Ireland, told police they saw a man carrying a child matching Madeleine’s description at around 10pm on Rua da Escola Primaria, 500 yards from the McCanns’ apartment. He was heading towards the beach, did not look like a tourist and did not seem comfortable carrying the child, they said.

Their evidence was compelling, but it was only in October 2013 that two e-fit images of the man, compiled by police from descriptions given by Mr and Mrs Smith, were released by Scotland Yard to coincide with a BBC Crimewatch reconstruction of Madeleine’s disappearance. He remains a suspect.

There were also blind alleys. Jane Tanner, one of the tapas diners, told police that when she left the restaurant at 9.15pm to check on her own daughter, she saw a man carrying a small child, wearing pink pyjamas, in his arms.

For years afterwards, the mystery man would be a key suspect, if not the prime suspect, but in October 2013 the Metropolitan Police announced that a British holidaymaker who had been taking his daughter back to his apartment after picking her up from an evening crèche, had been identified as the man Miss Tanner had seen and ruled out of the inquiry.

The first person to become an “arguido”, or official suspect, was Robert Murat, a local property consultant, whose home was searched 12 days after the disappearance. He was formally cleared of suspicion in 2008 and won £600,000 in libel damages from 11 British newspapers.

The Portuguese Police, however, were suspicious of the McCanns from the beginning, partly due to a clash of cultures. They could not believe that parents would leave their children unattended, and did not approve of the McCanns’ use of the media to raise the profile of the case, in a country where secrecy is the hallmark of all police investigations.

The arrival of two British sniffer dogs in Portugal in July 2007 only hardened that belief. One dog was trained to sniff out traces of human blood, the other was trained to sniff out the scent of dead bodies. Both dogs were taken to several locations connected to the investigation, and gave alerts only in apartment 5A. Later, the cadaver dog gave an alert inside a Renault car, hired by the McCanns 24 days after Madeleine went missing.

DNA tests on samples taken from the car proved inconclusive, but the Portuguese police wrongly told journalists they were a “100 per cent match” for Madeleine.

The Portuguese police came up with the theory that Madeleine had been killed by her parents by accident, possibly by being given an overdose of a sedative to make her sleep, that they had hidden the body, faked her abduction and then used the hire car weeks later to move her body to a burial location.

In early September 2007, according to Kate McCann, she was told by the Portuguese police that if she admitted that Madeleine had died in the apartment and she had hidden her body she might only serve a two-year sentence and Gerry McCann would not be charged at all. On September 7 the couple were both made arguidos.

Goncalo Amaral, the chief inspector who had been in charge of the case, resigned in 2008 to write a book alleging that Madeleine had died in an accident in the apartment and the McCanns had faked the abduction. The McCanns sued him for libel, and won: Amaral was ordered to pay them £394,000 in damages, but in April 2016 that decision was overturned by an appeal court.

In July 2008 the Portuguese attorney general announced that the McCanns were no longer suspects and the investigation was closed. The McCanns hired private investigators to carry on the search, but it was not until May 2011 that Theresa May, the Home Secretary, announced that Scotland Yard would review the evidence in the case, which had until then been the responsibility of Leicestershire Police, working with the Portuguese authorities.

In July 2013 Operation Grange, the review of the available evidence, became a full-blown criminal inquiry, and Scotland Yard said it was concentrating on a “criminal act by a stranger”.

The Yard announced it was looking into possible links between Madeleine’s disappearance and bogus charity collectors who were knocking on doors in Praia da Luz at the time. Between 3.30pm and 5.30pm on the day in question there were four separate sightings of men who said they were collecting money for an orphanage. British detectives believe men whose photofits they released in 2013 may have been engaged in reconnaissance for a pre-planned abduction or for burglaries, in keeping with the theory that Madeleine may have been killed by a burglar she disturbed.


E-fits of men seen acting suspiciously near the apartment on the night Madeleine went missing

Scotland Yard also said in 2013 it was eager to trace a blond-haired man who had been seen loitering in the area on April 30 and May 2, looking at apartment 1A. He was described as “ugly” with a spotty complexion and a large nose. Two blond-haired men were seen on the balcony of the empty apartment 5C, two doors from 5A, at 2.30pm on the day of the disappearance. Blond men were seen again near 5A at 4pm and 6pm that day, and at 11pm that night. Following the appeal on Crimewatch, the Portuguese police re-opened their own investigation.

Scotland Yard officers travelled to Portugal in 2014 to interview four suspects and carried out searches of the area around the apartment using ground-penetrating radar. One of the men who was interviewed has since been eliminated from the inquiry, but the other three men remain arguidos.

The British officers questioned them on suspicion of being part of a burglary gang that panicked after killing Madeleine during a bungled break-in. They all protested their innocence and were released without charge.

Another suspect was Euclides Monteiro, a convicted burglar with a drug habit, who had been sacked from the Ocean Club in 2006. Mobile phone tracking showed he had been in the area on the night of the disappearance, and police believe he may have been burgling apartments there to fund his drug addiction. He died in a tractor accident in 2009.

In March 2014 Scotland Yard announced that a lone intruder sexually assaulted five girls aged between seven and 10 in the Algarve between 2004 and 2006. The man, who has never been caught, was said to have a “very, very unhealthy interest” in young white girls.

The four incidents, one of which involved two girls, were among 12 in which men had entered holiday accommodation in the area, including two incidents in Praia da Luz. The force also said it was looking at 38 “people of interest” and were researching the backgrounds of 530 known sex offenders, including 59 regarded as high interest.

In December 2014 Det Chief Insp Andy Redwood, the man who had led Operation Grange, retired and was replaced on Dec 22 by DCI Nicola Wall, who travelled to Portugal the same month to conduct further inquiries.

DCI Wall and her team interviewed seven suspects and four witnesses, but have not released any information about what they discovered, insisting they will not provide a “running commentary” on the case.

In September 2015 the Met announced that it was scaling back the Operation Grange investigation team from 29 officers to four. With the cost of the inquiry topping £10 million, the force said it was following “a small number of focused lines of inquiry”.

It added that the “vast majority” of the work of Operation Grange had been completed. In total officers had reviewed more than 40,000 documents, took 1,338 statements and collected 1,027 exhibits.

The Met said 60 “persons of interest” had been investigated, 650 sex offenders considered and 8,685 potential sightings investigated.

Then, in April 2016, came an announcement by the Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe that his officers had boiled down the evidence to “one final lead”.

Having failed to substantiate other theories, police are reportedly left with one of the original theories – that Madeleine was killed during a botched burglary.

The Met wants to re-interview three suspects who were placed at the scene through analysis of their mobile phones: Jose Carlos da Silva, 30, who used to drive guests to their apartments at the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz, Ricardo Rodrigues, 24, and Paulo Ribeiro, 53.

They have previously admitted petty theft from apartments at the complex but denied any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance.

Kate and Gerry McCann remain convinced their daughter is alive and that they will one day be reunited. The hunt to find her continues.

Madeleine – Joaquim José Marques

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.

Gail Cooper 1

Gail Cooper 2

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

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. 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 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.

Tannerman and Crècheman

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.

JJM Sun Dec 14

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?

Madeleine – Ricardo Rodrigues

Ricardo Rodrigues is the third of 4 people made arguidos in July 2014, so what do we know about him?

Before we start on this topic, searching for Ricardo Rodrigues in Portugal is about as productive as searching for John Smith in England. Therefore, we are heavily reliant on media reports, which is not a good start.

Ricardo Rodrigues was not interviewed as part of the original PJ investigation. He was 16 at the time of the Madeleine incident and did not work for the Ocean Club.

Ricardo Rodrigues allegedly received 3 phone calls and 1 text from another arguido, José da Silva, on the evening of 3rd May 2007. There was also, allegedly a call be between Ricardo and a fourth arguido, on 2 May 2007.

One of these can be proved. Heriberto Janosch dug into the PJ Files and established that a call was made from José da Silva to Ricardo Rodrigues. This happened at 21:51 on 3 May, and lasted a little under a minute.

The other 3 contacts were earlier in the evening, and at the moment the evidence for these is merely the media. Given that the media speculation was frenzied, sometimes alleging large numbers of contacts before Madeleine disappeared and sometimes alleging numerous contacts after Madeleine disappeared, we are now into dangerous waters. A further 2 calls and 1 text in the evening of 3 May do not fit my understanding of ‘numerous’.

If this was a burglary developing, then the direction of communication, from José to Ricardo fits one possible scenario well. José was a look-out and Ricardo was the burglar.

This fits with the age profiles, with José around 30 at the time and Ricardo 16.

It does not fit with Ricardo being some sort of controller or look-out, while José tried to carry out the burglary.

The actual call pattern is a weak match for Tapas 9 movements, and don’t fit with a burglary. Does a look-out phone or text a burglar whilst the burglar is actively attempting to enter a property and steal?

Apart from a potential burglary connection, the media linked Ricardo Rodrigues to a potential charity collector sighting. The implication is that this was a scam, but as far as a burglary is concerned it matters not a jot.

The question that arises is – would a person planning a burglary turn up a day or two earlier on the doorstep, with the intention of sizing up the scene? This is both a good way to get noticed and a poor way to assess the security of the target.

There was a charity collector reported at the rear of 5A. However, he was working alone, he does not fit Ricardo, and if apartment 5A was burgled, it is more likely that the children’s bedroom window was used.

This leaves me with a third arguido where I am struggling to find what was sufficient to make him an arguido.

Perhaps he had a criminal record. It is possible, but I have no evidence to support that allegation.

The media described him as either a beggar or a charity collector when he was 16, but at age 23 seems to prefer the term unemployed.

That is not a lot to go on, and trying to find Ricardo Rodrigues is difficult, so is there anything to add to this?

One small insight may be relevant. Ricardo apparently was the owner of a particular make, model and colour of car. One Ricardo Rodrigues turns up in an adventure on 8 Sep 2010 at the Autódromo International do Algarve, a racing circuit to the north east of Luz.

Autódromo Algarve

A group of friends from the area had taken their cars to the track. It appears that you could race your own street cars on the circuit, for a charge of €5 per car for two laps. The group had some fun then decided to halt, all but two cars. The drivers, one of them Ricardo Rodrigues, decided to race a further two laps.

They were racing round one of the turns when Ricardo lost control, hitting the other car, so halting the race. The damage was around €600 per car.

Ricardo was supposedly 16 at the time of Madeleine incident. That would make him around 19 at the time of the Autódromo crash. In Portugal, you need to be 19 to sit your driving test, so Ricardo does not seem to have been an experienced driver.

More importantly, in he was described by the media as being either a beggar or a charity collector in 2007. He was described by the media as being unemployed in 2014.

He appears to have had the means to purchase a fairly sporty hatchback that was not old by Portuguese standards. As to whether that source of income was by his own methods or whether it was provided by someone else, I don’t know.

Again, the reason for making Ricardo an arguido is unknown. If he had a criminal record then it might be understandable. If he was identified via Crimewatch, then again it might be reasonable. However, the Crimewatch route again suffers from the fact it was not shown in Portugal. It suffers from another major problem. Although the files have a couple of statements that might be, at a stretch, Ricardo out doing charity collections with another older collector, it appears that no e-fit of the younger collector was produced.

This leaves a more tenuous connection to an older collector i.e. that the older collector was named via Crimewatch, and Ricardo Rodrigues was linked by the final ‘dodgy’ phone communication, namely a call between them on 2nd May 2007.

This is very unappetising fodder indeed.