If the facts around Madeleine and apartment 5A were known to an abductor, the method becomes unbelievably easy.
Around 9:15pm the level of light fell from sufficient for colour vision to enough for black and white vision. It is around this time that Gerry McCann chatted to Jeremy Wilkins, Jane Tanner walked past the pair and saw a man carrying a child at the top of the street.
If the chance of success of an abduction was to be maximised it would happen after this reduction in light. If a pattern had been discerned in the T9 checks, maximisation occurred somewhat later. Another check could be anticipated shortly, whether it was on a half-hourly schedule, or whether it was triggered by the gap between starters and mains.
The anticipated 9:30 check turned into reality, with a couple of flies in the ointment. Russell O’Brien would remain with his sick child. And if Matthew Oldfield is to be believed, he checked in 5B, then took the long, unlit, anti-clockwise route around block 5 to the passageway at the rear, something that makes no sense. Then he checked inside 5A for the first time in the holiday.
The second fly is actually irrelevant. Madeleine had either been successfully abducted and the abductor had escaped, or Madeleine was still in 5A and would disappear later. If the latter, no crime had occurred and there was no reason for an abductor in the passageway behind block 4 to be alarmed by Matthew Oldfield. Perhaps the Matthew Oldfield check happened, perhaps it did not, but it makes very little difference in this planned abduction scenario.
However, the Russell O’Brien action raised the risk profile for anyone abducting Madeleine via the patio doors, as he might have walked down the hill and past the garden gate to 5A at any point. Ditto Jane Tanner eating her meal quickly in order to replace Russell.
It was therefore time for the abductor to swing into action, starting at the green dot in the graphic above. A walk east along the passageway would have allowed an abductor to monitor the Tapas restaurant, establishing there was little risk from there. Turning to the north at the end, an abductor could see that Russell O’Brien was not heading down the hill.
The risk would begin when the abductor entered the plot of 5A via its garden gate, but at that stage it is very low-risk. Closing the gate would have made sense, as any checkers passing would see that as normal.
At the top of the rear steps of 5A another swift check could be made on the Tapas restaurant showing all was well. It would make sense to have left the baby gate unlocked for a swift get-away. A quick slide of the patio doors would have given entrance. Perhaps an abductor would risk a further check on the Tapas restaurant, perhaps not. It would make sense to have left the patio doors wide open for a fast exit, as from the Tapas restaurant it would have been extremely difficult to tell whether they were open or closed.
The first bedroom checked might well have been the parents’ bedroom. As the abductor had been standing in darkness for a considerable time, it would have taken just a glance to see Madeleine was not there. A swift movement to the front bedroom would have located Madeleine.
From here, the risk profile increases considerably.
Madeleine could have been gently extracted from her bed in order to keep her asleep.
There is no reason in this scenario to suppose that an abductor raised the shutter. That is a noisy operation to carry out in a quiet street, representing unnecessary risk.
There are two potential exit routes in a planned abduction scenario.
The first is via the front door, but anyone who had done any research would have realised that the front door takes you to the central stairwell exit of block 5, where every person living in the block would pass into and out of the building. There was also a fair risk of crossing paths with anyone checking block 5 at the front, and with Russell O’Brien when he left 5D.
The second route, via the patio doors, makes more sense. An abductor using that would run the risk of being seen with a child at the top of the steps, but would gain the advantage of once more checking on activity in the Tapas restaurant. Plus, he would have a head start if spotted.
It would make sense to leave the patio door wide open, and the baby gate at the top of the steps wide open. It would make sense to close the street gate, so anyone doing a check only at the front of block 5 would not detect anything amiss as they passed the gate.
At the garden gate, a quick glance up the hill would allow a final check on whether Russell O’Brien was coming down. After turning south down the hill, the danger of being on the street between apartment 5A and the Tapas reception was minimal. The distance back to the passageway is very small compared to the route taken by anyone leaving the Tapas restaurant, while if Russell O’Brien now rounded the corner at the top of the hill, all he would see was the back of a person with a blocked view of a child being carried, with no reason to suspect it was Madeleine.
So after a few relatively safe steps down the hill, the abductor could have turned into the passageway, once again being hard to spot from the Tapas restaurant while having the advantage of seeing if someone from there was in pursuit.
The danger in the passageway behind block 5 is not someone from block 4 coming the other way, using it as a short cut. That person would not know a crime had been committed, but rather would have seen simply another child being carried in the night, much akin to the Tanner sighting and the Smith sighting.
The danger in the passageway is that Russell O’Brien could have carried out the same strange behaviour that Matthew Oldfield claimed, and gone the anti-clockwise route around block 5. Potentially, Russell could have bumped into an abductor, but at that point simply dumping Madeleine and fleeing would have left Russell having to take care of Madeleine as the priority.
Once beyond the passageway that goes uphill between the blocks and connects to the car parks of both block 4 and block 5 there is virtually zero risk. The abductor would would then be back at the green dot, heading east, with a head start before the alarm was raised.
One source, Textusa makes the passageway behind block 4 a dead end and technically, it is.
However, on 10th May, Gerry McCann gave a second statement. Judging by the answer, he was being asked as to why the Portuguese sniffer dogs had circled blocks 4 and 5 and entered the passageway behind those two blocks. Gerry’s answer was curious. He said that one time between Monday 30th April and Wednesday 2nd May, as they went out through the front door, Madeleine scooted off left as far she could go re the blocks, then went down the side of whichever block was on the very end, and they found themselves in someone’s garden. Presumably as block 4 is laid out very much like block 5, that was the rear garden for apartment 4D. Then Gerry went out a gate into the passageway behind block 4 which led to the hill running from 5A to the Tapas area.
This was curious because on May 4th, the McCanns moved into 4G, so you would expect Gerry to realise by May 10th that block 4 was the end block.
Whatever the reason, the police and Madeleine and Gerry McCann could go anti-clockwise around block 4.
Therefore it was possible to use the gate to the garden of the last apartment to gain access to the garden. At that time of night, the chances of someone monitoring their garden gate is minuscule.
A quick walk up the side of block 4 would take an abductor only a few seconds. Unlike the Tanner sighting or the Smith sighting, someone carrying out a planned abduction had no need to carry Madeleine through Luz on foot. An innocuous car or van parked in the car park of block 4 would have drawn no attention. Further, it could have been parked at the end away from block 5, reducing the chances of anyone recognising Madeleine to near zero. (Jeremy Wilkins was in block 4. Whether he could have recognised Madeleine is not relevant, since was already inside and several stories up in apartment 4O.)
Putting this act of placing Madeleine in a car or van around 9:40 to 9:45 would give an abductor a head start of 15 to 20 minutes before Kate McCann raised the alarm. That is off into the night with no chance of capture.
This leaves only a couple of very minor points to iron out.
First, why would an abductor not take other things beyond Madeleine, such as valuables or Cuddle Cat? The answer to that one is easy. If you are conducting a kidnapping, stealing trinkets that may be traced back to you, or taking a soft toy that stands out to 3rd parties is dumb. If an abduction occurred, possibly the abductor was dismayed to find that Madeleine was wearing distinctive Eeyore pyjamas. Those would have to be replaced as soon after the abduction as possible.
Second, why not take a blanket from 5A for Madeleine? The scenario described above hinges on minimising the time spent inside apartment 5A not taking time to wrap a child. If a blanket was thought necessary, it could have been in the waiting vehicle. Further, taking a blanket that can be described increases the possibility of a chance sighter remembering that he saw a person with a child in that type of blanket.
Finally, having managed to make a planned abduction fly, any critical brain should be able to spot major weaknesses in it. As this is already a very long post, I will play the role of devil’s advocate and try to shoot down the probability of a planned abduction elsewhere.