Madeleine – A Place For Paedophiles

Tonight at 10pm UK time Really TV is showing part 1 of 11 of A Place For Paedophiles, with Louis Theroux.

This may turn out to be grim going and provide little illumination re the Madeleine McCann case. However, the only Really TV channel I can get here runs for 2 minutes then cuts out, and I am not going to try to watch either 1 programme or a series of 11 viewing them in 2 minute slices with gaps between.

If I do get to watch it, it will be because a copy has been loaded onto YouTube.

Tonight’s programme is about “Louis gains access to Coalinga State Hospital in California, which houses more than 500 convicted paedophiles – most of whom have been deemed unsafe for release.”

One of the things that intrigued me was that on its Crime section, Really TV features two people with some involvement re the Madeleine McCann case – Colin Sutton and Lee Rainbow.

Whether either will be called upon during the series is anyone’s guess.


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 – Colin Sutton on the 10th anniversary

Colin Sutton is an ex-SIO with the Met, and is to appear in at least 3 forthcoming specials around Madeleine’s 10 anniversary, and he has popped up in Mail Online today.

This article explains his experience and capability.

Ex-Senior Investigating Officer for the Met Police Murder Squad who led the investigations to convict Levi Bellfield and Delroy Grant.

Colin Sutton spent the last nine years of his police career as Senior Investigating Officer for the Met Police’s Murder Squad. Among the dozens of investigations he led, the most notable was perhaps the operation which convicted the serial killer Levi Bellfield. He then took over and reinvigorated the ‘Night Stalker’ investigation in 2009, which quickly led to the arrest and conviction of Delroy Grant for a long series of rapes on the elderly. He was also responsible for the re-investigation of the Deepcut Barracks deaths.

Colin retired with 30 years service in the police and he now advises and provides commentary and insight around crime and criminal justice issues for both the written and broadcast media. In addition to his investigative work Colin has significant experience of managing volume crime, covert law enforcement techniques, informant handling and technical surveillance. Colin has a degree in law and studied Criminal Justice post-graduation. He maintains a great interest in, and has forthright opinions on the criminal justice system and policing, from the commission of offences right through to the sentencing of offenders and the prison system.

The Delroy Grant case was a long standing case – what methods did you use to solve this case in such a relatively short amount of time and what was the most significant breakthrough?

The focus was switched from trying to identify the offender by DNA – mass-swabbing of a huge number of potential suspects – to a proactive operation, using 75 officers and technical surveillance in an area identified by analysis of his ‘favourite’ target area. He then, after 17 days, committed a burglary in the area, was observed and arrested.

Levi Bellfield remains one of the UK’s most infamous serial killers – what clues ultimately led to his conviction?

Ultimately it was thorough and painstaking analysis of CCTV images and then mobile phone records. But even though that was what made us suspect Bellfield, the complete lack of scientific evidence meant that there followed more than 3 years of patient case-building, old-fashioned detective work unearthing small pieces of circumstantial evidence which, when added together, formed the compelling case which convicted him.

When you approach a case like Bellfield or Grant as an Investigating Officer what do you look for first?

Most cases of murder and serious crime are spontaneous, so that a quick and large-scale response will often bring quick results. But men like Bellfield and Grant are more cunning, they plan their crimes and try their best to avoid leaving forensic evidence. These are the hardest cases to solve. Ultimately both were caught because they continued to offend and gave me renewed opportunities to identify them. In such cases the SIO has to be patient, not to jump to conclusions or swift action but to consider all the possibilities. The more planning the criminal employs the more we must use against them.

How have advancements in forensics and psychology changed police investigations?

There is no doubt that DNA, and the ever-increasing sensitivity of tests for it, have made most serious crimes easier to solve. In many cases it will give irrefutable proof of presence, and therefore of guilt. But it has made some detectives over-reliant upon it, and this was very evident in Delroy Grant’s case. Psychology has helped interviewing officers, and an understanding of the criminal to a degree. However offender profiling is very rarely as successful or impactful in reality as it is portrayed in fiction.

Why do you think it is important for the public to understand what happens in these horrific crimes?

First it is necessary to enlist the public as our eyes and ears. The worse the crime the more likely the public are to come forward with information. Secondly it is necessary to reinforce the message for the public to take care, to try to minimise the risk to them of becoming victims. Thirdly, it is part of the entire criminal justice process – the public must know why society is incarcerating these criminals for so long, and also be reassured that the police and the system actually does work for them in making the community safer.

What makes killers like Grant and Bellfield get so much press attention compared to others?

Thankfully, it is because they are so rare, and therefore unusual. Their crimes are just so far beyond the comprehension of normal people that they are truly shocking, and as such there will always be a demand for their stories to be told. It is, I suppose, the same reason that they are given so much police attention too.

Are there any unsolved cases across the world that you would be interested in tackling?

Not now, I am too happy being retired! But had the Madeline McCann review come my way before retirement I would have stayed to complete that; it is the greatest mystery of our generation, and despite its obvious difficulty I would have been unable to resist the opportunity to try to help solve it.

Which case from history would you like to work on?

I think some of the great mysteries – Jack the Ripper, Lord Lucan, that sort of case – might be quite easily solved in the modern era, but at the time the detectives never had the scientific help we enjoy these days. What I really would have liked was to have been in charge of the Delroy Grant case much earlier – I think I might have saved a lot of elderly people a lot of pain.


On CMoMM, Mr Sutton has made it clear that he is not in-depth expert on the Madeleine McCann case. However, that is not where his expertise is being deployed.

Here is today’s interview in the Mail Online

Did Madeleine McCann wander off and have an accident? Was she stolen to order? Or was it a burglary gone wrong? Detective lays out theories about her disappearance.

By Katie French

PUBLISHED: 22 April 2017

A former Scotland Yard detective believes he has come up with the five most plausible theories to explain the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

Murder detective Colin Sutton said a trafficking gang could have snatched her to replace a dead child or she could have been snatched by a paedophile. But he theorised the ‘most likely and credible scenario’ for Maddie’s disappearance was a targeted kidnap.

Speaking to The Mirror, he questioned why traffickers didn’t take one of Maddie’s twin baby siblings instead – who would have no memory of their previous life and less physical identity. As the 10th anniversary of Maddie’s disappearance approaches next month, the investigator has analysed multiple theories for a new book. Madeleine was just three went missing from Praia da Luz in Portugal in May 2007, almost a decade ago. He said those closest to Maddie, including her parents, would have been the first line of inquiry for police. But he added he believed Portuguese police appeared make this their only line of investigation early on in the probe.

He said: ‘By concentrating just on that scenario they may have missed tips or other lines that meant going down a completely different investigation route.’

He said: ‘A trafficking ring is more likely than a lone paedophile or paedophile ring.’But unless the order was specifically for a young blonde girl, why her and not one of the twins?

‘Has a young blonde girl died and their parents want to replace her? Or is there another reason for stealing to order?’

While cops initially believed Maddie could have wandered off and been killed, Sutton believes the tot would surely have taken her beloved toy ‘Cuddle Cat’ if she had walked out of the apartment.

He said: ‘Incidents of children wandering off are much more common than a targeted or non-targeted abduction.

‘However Cuddle Cat is a compelling fly in the ointment with this theory.’

He said it was highly unlikely that an opportunist had snatched her, saying that most predatory paedophiles are ‘not interested in pre-school age children’.

He said: ‘The chances of a predatory paedophile just happening across Madeleine and being able to abduct her without being detected are just so remote.

‘I don’t know of any other opportunistic abduction of a girl so young.’

And he also believes it is extremely unlikely that she was killed as part of a burglary gone wrong, as most burglars are drug addicts looking for something small they can easily sell.

He said: ‘Junkies don’t take three-year-old girls.’