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 – Xmas day 6 – the Sun

The first photo was taken just a little further down the street from Galo’s, and obviously a tad closer to Baptista. The green shop is the one appearing in the Xmas Day 5 photo of Galo’s. There is nothing particularly special about this, and you can use Google StreetView to get the Aug 2009 version, but please note the pinkish shop at the end of the row.

day-6-1-the-shop-fronts

This is LuzTur. One of 4 men made arguidos in July 2014 lived here at the time Madeleine disappeared. As far as I am aware, there has been no news that his arguido status has been lifted. I am not aware of the process for lifting arguido status in an on-going case. There was news that Sergey Malinka, who was also made an arguido at that time, was informed that he was no longer a person of interest to Operation Grange, but I do not know if his arguido status was formally lifted.

day-6-2-luztur

Now we are at the pink shop at the end of the row. Clearly, it is decked out for Christmas. In summer it is stuffed with goods for the beach.

day-6-3-pink-shop

This is the end of the shop/accommodation block, and there is another alleyway. The silver car that featured earlier is still there, as is the green awning that adjoins the tent-shaped building inside the Tapas zone. The importance of this is that having these little short cuts is a major feature in Luz. Once you get to know them, you can get around on foot much quicker than if you take the main streets. I have no reason to believe the McCanns ever visited this row of shops, even though it is very close to the Tapas zone and just a few metres from the front of Baptista. I know the McCanns used Baptista to get food for breakfast and lunch, after finding the trek to the Millennium to be a struggle. Baptista has a rear entrance situated on Rua Martins, near apartment 5A, and that makes more sense re the McCanns.

day-6-4-pink-alley-to-tapas

Who knows, maybe Kate or Gerry used the café that is situated at the front of Baptista for a coffee and perhaps a pastry before Madeleine disappeared, at a time when all 3 children were in kids’ clubs and there was no tennis. I have sat outside outside that café on one of the Luz Tours for a long chat with a guest. It was early May 2016 and the sun was shining brightly in Luz. Throw in an interesting discussion and it really does not get much better.

Now here is my reason for dragging you along this row of shops. On 13 Oct 2013, the Crimewatch special on Madeleine McCann coincided with the release by Operation Grange of the two Smithman e-fits. I don’t know how much advance notice the media got of this or the Crimewatch programme contents. It is fairly standard practice when one wants a lot of publicity to put such material out early but say it is subject to a press embargo until a certain date and time. This means the media cannot publish the material before that date and time, but journalists and reporters can get their homework done.

The Sun either had such material in advance or its reporters moved very swiftly. From memory, the e-fits were made public on the morning of 13 Oct 2013, presumably with the aim of getting more viewers interested in watching the Crimewatch special on that evening.

By 14 Oct 2013, the next day, the Sun had a fairly large report on the Crimewatch special, including stills from the programme, leading me to think they might have had an advance view of the programme.

They also had a reporter/photographer team in Luz to get an exclusive angle. They had printed off posters of the Smithman e-fits, one with text in Portuguese and another with text in English, and had a bash at putting them put up in Luz.

The following is a photo of shop assistant Elane Harvey, putting the two Sun posters up outside the shop where she worked. I don’t know Elane personally and apart from this Sun report, I have never heard her name mentioned, so I am going purely by what the photo shows.

day-6-5-the-sun-suspect-e-fit-near-baptista

First up, we have the shop at the end of the row, nearest to Baptista. I know it sells beach goods during the season, but other things clearly fit as well.

Second, my photos are mainly pink, with a hint of orange, while the Sun photograph is orange with a hint of pink. What can I say? I am an amateur using a 60€ camera. I would hope the Sun photographer was a professional using a camera that costs over ten times as much.

Third, you have two photos to compare. The Sun photo was published on 14 Oct 2013. Mine was taken on 27 Dec 2016. In both you have bags of bright sunlight. In mid-October, Elane was wearing a thin top with short sleeves. The shop was still trying to flog beach goods. Although neither photo was taken in May, it shows why you get bougainvillea blooming in May. There is a lot of sun shining in Luz.

Fourth, clap your beady eyes on the beach goods under the posters but inside the shop. These are called sunglasses. Now sunglasses feature in The Last Photograph, and here we have a source of the same. As I have made clear, I cannot think of anything that places Kate or Gerry McCann in this area. In Kate’s book ‘madeleine’, she relates a story of the beach trip at lunchtime on Wednesday 2 May 2007, when Gerry bought sunglasses from a stall on the beach front. The sunglasses tale is something I would like to stack up for another time, because I’ve got some research to do on that one.