Madeleine – the no news photos

I have been meaning to pack away a few photos before we relocate and as there seems to be no news on the Madeleine McCann front, this seems as good a time as any.

Both of the following photos were taken around 5.50pm, today, 15 Jun 2017. The temperature hit 37°C at lunchtime, which is far too hot for me. We currently live on a hilltop in the north of Luz and that means we get any breeze going, which is brilliant through Spring, Summer and Autumn. Our family juniors have already moved to our new house inland, and they tell us it is baking, with no wind, so I am contemplating how to make a lot of artificial wind when we need it there.

Here is the first of two photos.

I took this simply because that purple-flowering tree is stunning. I have no gardening skills, so I had to ask what type of tree it is. I am informed it is a jacaranda, and I want one when we move. We have around 300m of land that we are not permitted to build any structure on, so we might as well have a pretty garden.

The second photo is simply a view of Luz that you don’t get in any of the stock photos.

This is looking from Monte Lemos in the extreme north of Luz roughly due west. There are two positioning aides in it. In the background you can see the hill on which Boa Vista golf complex resides, stretching to Rocha Negra at the southern end. On the hill you can see the track possibly used by Kate and Gerry McCann when they went running to ascend the hill, but there is an easier route.

In the centre of the photo in the middle distance is a row of villas and sticking up near the left hand end is a thing that looks like a tree. In fact, it is artificial. It is a phone mast that was put in with the intention of providing the Internet throughout Luz, but the project failed. It locally called the pineapple roundabout even though the structure looks like a palm tree. It sits near the northern end of Rua Primeira de Maio, a few yards or metres up from the Hotel Belavista.

If you look nearer than this to the centre-right, you can see a very large villa done in white. That is one of two luxury villas that have recently been built on Monte Lemos in a speculative enterprise. Neither will get finished until someone buys them and specifies how they want the interior to look.

This means that although the Ocean Club is dead, there is still investment and building at the high end of the market. Whether BrExit impacts this remains to be seen.

The orange or sandy-coloured villa behind the white one is obscuring any view of apartment 5A, the Ocean Club, and most of central Luz, but apartment 5A is far enough away that it would not appear from this spot.

Madeleine – Panorama special 3 May 2017

Reporter Richard Bilton, who has covered the Madeleine McCann case for 10 years, presented a BBC Panorama special on 3 May 2017 entitled ‘Madeleine McCann 10 Years On’.

Mr Bilton obtained an interview with Pedro do Carmo, Deputy Director, Polícia Judiciária. He said it is still a missing child case. Plus the PJ wanted to learn what to do if it is repeated.

The Lisbon court case of the McCanns v Gonçalo Amaral was covered briefly.

The programme added various scenes of Luz that are impossible to get from the ground. If you check the credits at the end, you will see the drone camera operator was Andy Webb.

The documentary covered the basics of the case – 9 adults eating at the Tapas restaurant, 8 children in block 5, Kate alerting around 10pm that Madeleine was missing.

There was a previously unseen interview with Gonçalo Amaral from 2012, in which it was claimed there was nothing to support an abduction.

The programme said the Portuguese police found inconsistencies in the time-line, and thought the McCanns had acted oddly by bringing in the media.

The dog deployments were next, presumably to move on to an interview of Kate and Gerry McCann by Sandra Felgueiras. This was the one where Gerry said cadaver dogs are unreliable.

Had the Portuguese settled on their theory before final DNA results were available? Panorama did not pick up the order of things from Kate’s book ‘madeleine’. The McCanns let it be known they were soon leaving Portugal. The PJ chose to interview them before their announced leaving date. The incomplete results still required that the McCanns were made arguidos.

The Smith family gave statements that they saw a man carrying a child several hundred metres from the Ocean Club at around 10pm on 3 May. Gerry would be implicated in the sighting, but he had an alibi of being at the Tapas Restaurant at that time.

In 2008 the case was archived, and the McCanns were no longer arguidos.

Robert Murat gave his opinion on events of that time. Was his mother being followed by private investigators? Was Mr Bilton asked to spy on his colleagues with respect to Mr Murat?

The BBC documentary moved to the report by Jim Gamble, then head of CEOP. It recommended a review. The report appeared to languish until May 2011, when The Sun serialised Kate McCann’s book ‘madeleine’.

Operation Grange was started. The documentary moved to ‘the British story’.

There were burglaries in Luz, that allegedly the local operators kept quiet to protect trade. Heriberto Janosch González told of 3 recent burglaries in block 4 and block 5. In a video, he demonstrated how to raise the shutter an open the window from outside.

3 men were potentially involved in a burglary that night. José Carlos da Silva, a driver at the Ocean Cub. Ricardo Rodrigues, aged 16 in 2017. And Paulo Ribeiro. These were allegedly connected by phone messages and texts. These were 3 Portuguese people on a phone to each other in Luz, and the phone traffic was normal. José Carlos da Silva declined to be interviewed. Ricardo Rodrigues could not be contacted. Paulo Ribeiro was interviewed and he denied involvement in a burglary. He said he had been identified from a drawing or e-fit.

Presumably that was from Crimewatch Oct 2013. If so it is puzzling as to how Sr Ribeiro was identified, as that Crimewatch programme did not air on any Portuguese channel, though those e-fits were shown in Portuguese media.

Judging by the Panorama interview, Sr Ribeiro does not appear to be the kind of person who could keep a major secret for 10 years.

I think I may have had a very brief encounter with Sr Ribeiro about a year ago, though I had no idea at the time that it was him.

Scotland Yard announced these 3 men were no longer persons of interest in April 2017.

Panorama moved on to another man, Vitor dos Santos. He had given a fairly long statement in 2007. He confirmed he had been interviewed by British police, and that must have been in Dec 2014. He said the questions were much the same as in 2007 e.g. about the logistics of the holiday complex. Sr dos Santos had been laid off by the Ocean Club and now made a living taking tourists on boat trips near Lagos.

It seems Operation Grange has a further lead to pursue but Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley would not be drawn on what it was. That left the recent press speculation that it might be about a woman seen near apartment 5A acting suspiciously on 3 May 2007.

I was in contact with the Panorama team to explain some information. However, that was shortly before the programme aired, when the documentary must have been nearly fully completed. So I have no reason to believe anything was altered as a result of our exchange.

Madeleine – 10th – #9 – is this the finale?

This is nearly the finale.

It was now getting late and I was getting fidgety. I had wanted to get to the Smith sighting by 10pm and the time had come and gone.

However reporter Michael Havis had now bagged Reverend Haynes Hubbard, so I took a few more photos. Please bear in mind that circumstances were far from perfect. I still had not figured out how to switch the flash on my camera off, so I must have being annoying many a person. It is also not the best camera mode for a night shot, which explains why this photo is so fuzzy.

However, this low quality photo made it into the UK media reports and the question is why. The photo shows what Reverend Hubbard was wearing on his feet – sandals and no socks. He obviously does not stand on ceremony.

But the photo part that interests me is what this gentleman has around his right wrist. It is a yellow band. Reverend Hubbard is Canadian, and these wrist bands have a meaning in North America. They signify hope that a missing child will one day return.

This is a marginally less fuzzy photo of Reverend Hubbard being interviewed by Michael Havis. You can see the lady in black from CMTV striding off at a rate of knots. Lisbon is 3 hours from Luz. London via Faro is more like 6 hours. The media did their interviews and headed off into the distance.

Whereas I grabbed Mr Havis, dragged him to the Smith sighting, and there we emulated exactly what could have been seen by Peter Smith, Martin Smith and Aoife Smith.

This is the last of my personal photos. Questions remain. Where were the McCanns? What did Sky’s special on 2 May 2017 reveal? What did the Panorama special on the 10th anniversary reveal?

Madeleine v Montana sauvignon blanc

Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that I enjoy cooking. One of my standards when I am abandoned on my own for a fortnight is to do a ’round the world tour’. Each night I ‘travel’ a little further around the world, cooking one of the signature dishes of the country in which I have ‘landed’. If this sounds hare-brained, trust me, I get some really delicious meals out of it.

Strangely enough, the core idea came from a Weight Watchers book, Around the World in 65 Recipes. Great food does not need to be fattening!

When we move to our new home in Portelas (water and electricity now in, builders ripping things out and installing new things), I want to start up a Diner’s Club in the village. Once a month I want to cook good food in a good ambience with good company, and ‘Around the World’ may fit the good food requirement perfectly.

I do not want to compete with anyone running a café/bar in or around Portelas. That rules out a vast raft of Portuguese goodies, both in food and drink. I have been looking for a source that would satisfy the alternative drink requirement. Today I visited a cash and carry called Recheio in Lagos (Google Recheio cash and carry – it’s online). It has dozens or hundreds of wines, but all of them are Portuguese.

At the moment, I am stumped, but then I am also ingenious. In Kate’s book ‘madeleine’, she mentions having a glass of wine before going out to dine on 3 May 2007. Please don’t head down the ‘too much to drink angle’. I am simply trying to work out where I can get wines from outside Portugal so I can do world tours.

As far as I can establish, the wine shared by Kate and Gerry was a Montana sauvignon blanc, from New Zealand. It reminded them of a fond time there when both their careers and their romance was blossoming, along with Kate’s running capability.

Here’s a 2006 Montana sauvignon blanc.

In lots of ways, this sliver of gold does not fit in. I am not a fan of sauvignon blanc. The nearest I have been to New Zealand in real life is Los Angeles. While I have signature dishes for many countries around the world, New Zealand is not yet on my radar.

However, my failure at Recheio cash and carry means I need to go back to the origin of that Montana sauvignon blanc, which was Supermercado Baptista. I need a map of the wine countries Baptista covers as my starting position.

Time is pressing. In between now and 10 June 2017 we have to get everyone moved into the new house. I am hoping to have our first family Portugal v England friendly before the week is out. For the clash of the Auld Enemies at Hampden in June, I am confident I can produce an ‘authentic’ Killie pie and surely England deserves a (Vardy) ploughman special? But can I get a typically Scottish or English beer in Portugal?

So much to do in life. So little time.

Madeleine v the double buggy

In the Crimewatch of Oct 2013, the reconstruction shows the McCanns, all played by actors and actresses, in an early trip around the Ocean Club soon after arriving in Luz. ‘Gerry’ is pushing a double buggy containing the ‘twins’, ‘Kate’ is walking in front with an inflated pool ring (which appears to be adult sized) and ‘Madeleine’ is romping out ahead.

I cannot get a clear photo of the Crimewatch double buggy as ‘Kate’ is always obscuring it. This is the best I can do.

20131013-crimewatch-double-buggy

The double buggy is one of the numerous errors in Crimewatch. The McCanns did not take any kind of a buggy with them.

From Kate’s book ‘madeleine’, about their first afternoon/evening in Luz

Afterwards we strolled over to the Millennium restaurant for dinner. … The restaurant turned out to be nearly half a mile away from our base – a bit too far, really, certainly for a gaggle of weary toddlers. As we were only going to be away for a week, we’d decided not to bring Sean and Amelie’s double buggy with us, preferring to travel light. … So there were many stops and negotiations about whose turn it was to be carried by whom.”

Their family beach trip was on Tuesday, 1 May 2007.

In the afternoon Gerry and I decided to take the children down to the beach. … We borrowed a double buggy from Mark Warner to make the walk easier for Sean and Amelie.”

Since Crimewatch didn’t think the double buggy was important, I have no reason to think that they would have checked on the make or model of the double buggy used by the McCanns in the UK.

The double buggy in Crimewatch appears to me to be a relatively lightweight one, though it is hard to tell. By comparison, the McCanns’ UK double buggy looks to be a substantial beast. Here it is in Oct 2007.

20071017-katemccann-double-buggy

Without any sort of buggy capacity, the walk from apartment 5A to and from the Millennium would indeed be a mighty effort. Simply carrying the twins is not the complete answer, due to traffic flow. While Baptista was open (8.30am to 8pm), Rua Dr Agostinho da Silva beside 5A is an important entry to and exit from the supermarket. Jenny Murat describes a near miss as she was returning from buying some bread close to the shop’s closing time.

The fact that Rua Direita is one way (west to east) also affects traffic flow on the major part of the route between apartment 5A and the Millennium. Traffic coming from Lagos on the M537 is forced to turn north at the entry junction to Luz, in order to avoid Rua Direita. Then a 90° curve at the Mirage puts this stream of traffic smack-dab on the McCann route along Rua do Ramalhete.  Here is the McCann journey.

5a-to-millennium

Nearly all of the traffic coming from Lagos gets shunted onto this road. That includes the Lagos to Burgau bus route. (The Burgau to Lagos route is able to travel along Rua Direita.)

From the time that the buses start or Baptista opens to the time that both shut down the route requires control over young children. Assuming Gerry carried one of the twins and Kate carried one of the others, it still required a hand free to make sure Madeleine stayed on the pavement.

According to Vitor dos Santos, the Head of Accommodation at the Ocean Club, who booked-in the Tapas 9 –

For dinner the guests could choose between two options, the Tapas and the Millennium and although the meals are identical, the clients choose the restaurant according to its proximity to their accommodation.

In this case in concrete, the rational choice for dinner would be the Tapas restaurant as it is 100 metres distance from the apartment, whilst the Millennium is situated 600 metres away.”

The diagram above measures the distance from 5A to the Millennium. Senhor dos Santos makes it 600 metres. I make it 650m, which is just above what Senhor dos Santos thinks and a little below what Kate says.

I don’t think a small difference is significant. With or without a buggy, apartment 5A to the Millennium is not a pleasant route nor is it an easy trek. I have been informed by a reliable source that the other 3 families in the T9 group brought buggies. I don’t know what they all did for breakfast. But in the evening they preferred the Tapas restaurant over the Millennium.

And so Madeleine, and all the other children of the T9, would be spending their evenings in block 5 whilst the parents dined nearby.

Madeleine – News Jan 2017

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38614824 On 13 Jan, the BBC ran this article about Kamiyah Mobley, a baby who was kidnapped when she was just 8 months old, from a hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, in July 1998. A tip led the police to the alleged kidnapper. DNA testing was used to confirm the biological mother of the abduction victim. This story was linked to Madeleine by at least one tabloid, which claimed a friend of the McCanns said the parents were buoyed by this development. {This story is not a direct equivalent to Madeleine McCann, due to the differences in the ages of the children when they disappeared. What it does show is the effort the police put into a resolution of Kamiyah Mobley’s disappearance.}

http://www.cmjornal.pt/portugal/detalhe/mccann-perdem-recurso-no-supremo-contra-goncalo-amaral?ref=Modalidades_BlocoFimPagina On Tuesday 31 Jan the news broke that the Supreme Court of Portugal had refused to hear a further stage of the McCanns v Amaral case. An appeal court in Lisbon on 19 Apr 2016 had overturned an earlier decision to award the McCanns damages for the publication of his book, A Verdade Da Mentira. UK press reported the Supreme Court ruling widely and, in the main, poorly. The refusal to hear an appeal to the Supreme Court was portrayed as if such an appeal had been held, when it had not. Various options were then tagged on such as the possibility of Gonçalo Amaral suing Kate and Gerry McCann. {To be continued in Feb 2017 News.}

On the same day, The Sun put two and two together, and seemingly came up with five. https://www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/2753198/kate-mccanns-missing-people-choir-brings-britains-got-talent-judges-to-tears-with-heartbreaking-secret-audition/ The Missing People Choir did an audition for Britain’s Got Talent. Kate McCann is an ambassador for Missing People. The Sun transformed her into the choir ambassador, and speculated that Kate might get more heavily involved if the choir progressed to the live shows. {To be continued in Feb 2017 News.}

missing-people