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 – Paulo Ribeiro

The fourth arguido from July 2014 is Paulo Jorge Ribeiro.

Despite all the publicity in the Madeleine McCann case, desperately little is known about this man, and what there is seems to be speculation in the media.

Whilst José da Silva and Ricardo Rodrigues were photographed (allegedly) entering the PJ headquarters in Faro after being made arguidos, I cannot find an equivalent photo of Paulo Ribeiro.

This may be due to his name. Again Paulo Ribeiro or Paulo Jorge Ribeiro are common names, so searching for them is a needle in a haystack job. However, he did not enter the public awareness in this manner. He was named in Correio da Manhã and Jornal de Notícias, with Correio da Manhã claiming to have seen the International Letter of Request (ILOR).

The Correio da Manha report was replete with basic errors, so if the ILOR was seen, it does not appear to have been reported accurately.

Here is a summary of the alleged ‘facts’ about Paulo Jorge Ribeiro.

  • He was about 44 at the time Madeleine went missing.

  • He was in telephone contact with arguido Ricardo Rodrigues. This was on 2 May or 4 May, depending on the media source.

  • He is, or was, a heroin addict.

  • He is a schizophrenic.

  • His behaviour was strange around the time Madeleine disappeared.

  • He might be part of a charity collector pair reported by a British couple.

  • He might be a man seen around apartment 5A in the run-up to Madeleine’s disappearance.

Quite obviously one’s age, or living nearby, is insufficient to make someone an arguido. I will pass on how old he is or where he lived.

Moving on to the phone call, Correio da Manhã makes it 12:08 on 2 May 2007. There is no explanation as to why this call or this time is significant, and I cannot see anything to make it suspicious. The Express dated the call to 4 May 2007, and again gave no explanation as to why the call or call time was significant. Again, if a call took place at 12:08 on 4 May 2007 between Ricardo Rodrigues and Paulo Ribeiro, I cannot see anything to make it suspicious.

Next up is ‘heroin addict’. I have no idea about how truthful this is. The Madeleine case runs rife with tales of burglaries, paedophiles and drug addicts. It could be based on fact, or it could be pure media speculation. Since I have no evidence to offer on this point, I will move on.

The next item is ‘schizophrenic’. Is this relevant? Actually, it probably is. Look up schizophrenia for yourself, and two things should stand out. First, the condition is long lasting. If Paulo is schizophrenic now, then the probability is he was schizophrenic in 2007. Second, schizophrenia boiled down to basics is a difficulty in telling apart reality and imagination. Decide for yourself whether this is an asset for a burglar. Or whether if you were part of a team conducting burglaries, you’d want to work with a schizophrenic.

The following suggestion for his status as arguido is that his behaviour was strange around the time Madeleine disappeared. If I think about this point I have to ask myself what is ‘normal’ behaviour for a schizophrenic, if reality and imagination blurs into one? The searches by the locals, the massive police presence, the massive media presence – does that define ‘normal’? This is one of those queries hurled at the McCanns that I have no truck with – did they behave abnormally after Madeleine disappeared? If it is a fruitless question with respect to the McCanns then I cannot see it should be asked of Paulo Ribeiro.

Moving on again we come to charity collector pair reported by British couple. The only reference I can find in the PJ Files to a pair of charity collectors is by Rex and Iris Morgan. Both Rex and Iris give an age for the younger collector that is a decent fit for Ricardo Rodrigues. However, the elder collector is reported as around 30 (Paulo was 44). Rex was unable to make an e-fit. Iris made a single e-fit, reproduced below. To me it looks like it is meant to be the younger man, but Iris’ statement makes it look like it is the older charity collector.

Iris Morgan 15VOLUMEXVa_Page_4012

Please note Heriberto Janosch at EspacioExterior posted earlier today on this point, raising the question as to whether this charity collector duo was Ricardo Rodrigues and José da Silva. This is a much better age fit for the pair. However, Iris Morgan describes the older collector with curly hair, and her e-fit shows curly hair, whilst the best photo I have seen of José da Silva is with straight hair.

If you wish to earn a bonus point, please go back to the e-fit Iris Morgan made, and this time check out the date at which she made it.

So, for Ricardo Rodrigues we have no e-fit, and a poor quality photo when he entered Faro PJ station in July 2014. While for Paulo Ribeiro, we have a potential e-fit but no photo to match it against.

The last point is that he might be a man seen around apartment 5A in the run-up to Madeleine’s disappearance. This is so vague it could mean anything. What it is not is enough to make someone an arguido.

There is no direct connection between José da Silva and Paulo Ribeiro. It pivots via Ricardo Rodrigues. Unless Ricardo Rodrigues was up to his neck in crime or drugs, and I have no evidence that this was the case, then I am still at a loss to work out why this trio were made arguidos.

This brings me to the end of the 4 people made arguidos in July 2014, and I am still struggling to work out what required this status in Portuguese law. Perhaps there is more in the phone traffic than has leaked. Perhaps more came out of the Oct 2013 Crimewatch than has leaked.

At the moment with what did leak, I am just not getting 2 plus 2 to add up to 4. Sergey Malinka seemed to be a duff call. Linking José da Silva to Ricardo Rodrigues to Paulo Ribeiro appears to be another fail.

I do not have a history of when the ILORs were issued or approved, and that lack may prove significant. However, in a short period of time, June and July of 2014, Scotland Yard appears to have been involved in one shambles in digging up central Luz, followed by a second shambles, in which 4 people were constituted arguidos, but with little or no progress.

Madeleine – José da Silva off work?

There are minor pieces of information known about José da Silva that have little bearing on the case. It appears he moved from Luztur to a nearby run-down apartment, he is reputed to be suffering health problems, and he is reputed to be carrying out a menial job.

The last significant piece of the puzzle emerged relatively recently. The other Ocean Club driver was Bernardino da Silva (probably not related). The media has picked up that Bernardino says José da Silva was not at work on 3 May 2007, when he should have been.

Bernardino’s first statement to the PJ does not mention this. Perhaps he thought it was not significant at the time in May 2007. However, he had reported a man he saw around 20:15 to 20:30 in Luz on 3 May 2007, on the basis that he had not seen the man in Luz before.

Given that Luz is a holiday resort with many people turning up for their first and only week in Luz, a person Bernardino had not seen before should have been a common occurrence, yet Bernardino raised this small point with the police. As it happens, the man was tracked to an address near the Post Office, and it turned out he had a five year rental contract for the property. He was of no further interest to the police.

Bernardino gave a second statement to the police, on 6 Feb 2008 (about 9 months after the incident). He was asked why he had made a call at 21:00 on 3 May 2007 in Luz, when his normal working hours stopped at 20:30.

He gave two reasons for working late. The first was that guests needed to be transported late. The second was that some tourists did not have the key to their apartment.

Bernardino did not mention José da Silva failed to turn for work that day. It was an obvious thing to say to explain why he was running late, as Thursday was one of the arrival/departure dates. Missing a driver on that day should have been noticeable.

The sole witness statement of José da Silva was made on 8 May 2007. It is very bland. Perhaps this is due to the large number of witnesses making statements in the early days of the investigation.

He gives his normal working hours as 11:00 to 16:00, except for Thursdays and Saturdays. On those days he started earlier and finished later, as these days were the main arrival and departure days. He does not cover, specifically, whether he was supposed to work on 3 May 2007, and if he failed to turn up, why this was.

So when did Bernardino’s account, that José failed to turn up for work that day, originate, and when did it first surface?

Trying to piece together who said what when in the media spaghetti is a task fraught with risk, but here is my attempt at this.

Heriberto Janosch at EspacioExterior (http://espacioexterior.blogspot.pt/) was developing a theory of who within the PJ Files might be people who, at the minimum, could supply further information to progress the case. He has been in contact with Scotland Yard more than once, to provide what he had pieced together.

In late October 2013, Heriberto was blogging that José da Silva (then not identified by name) was not at work between 9pm and 11pm on 3 May 2007. This gave José the opportunity to be involved. I do not know where Heri got this information.

A little after that, Heriberto’s blog evolved to this person being absent for the whole of Thursday 3 May, when he should have been working. Again, I do not know where Heri got this information.

In Crimewatch of Oct 2013, there was a mention of an increase in burglaries in the vicinity, in the months preceding Madeleine’s disappearance.

Towards the end of 2013, the media was stating that Scotland Yard was interested in a trio of burglars.

Heriberto’s scenario does not involve a trio of burglars. It involves a single person attempting to enter apartment 5A via the window in the children’s bedroom, with the possibility of a second person being involved later.

The two other arguidos of 2014 inked directly or indirectly to José da Silva were not Ocean Club employees at that time. This means their criminal record, if any, is not in the PJ Files. If someone has knowledge that they were burglars, this information had to come from another source.

On 5th Jan 2014, the Sunday Express ran a story penned by James Murray bringing multiple elements of this tale together. This includes the Scotland Yard analysis of mobile phone traffic and repeats the 3 burglars part. Then it illuminates the article with some information from Heriberto.

Heriberto’s main input is that he wonders if the (lone) man in his scenario is one of the 3 burglars that appear to be of interest to Scotland Yard. Then James Murray appears to write words that fit the overall story, but do not fit Heriberto’s scenario. Heriberto is quoted that multiple burglars entered apartment 5A, when his theorem is that a single person acted alone, and though he opened the shutter and window, he did not enter the flat.

In the printed newspaper, the article states Heriberto says José was not at work on 3rd May 2007.

From then on, of course, this particular element was available to all the media, whether it was deemed important or not.

This has evolved to the stage where Bernardino da Silva is attributed as the source of the information. I cannot confirm whether this is correct.

However, if José da Silva was supposed to be at work that day but wasn’t, it would be prudent of Scotland Yard to enquire why. This in itself does not appear enough to make him an arguido. Since an arguido can refuse to answer questions, while a witness is obliged to answer questions, it appears more sensible to clear up this element by making him a witness.

So, José da Silva was an Ocean Club driver. He lived nearby. He made 3 phone calls and 1 text to Ricardo Rodrigues (another person to be made arguido) in the evening of 3 May 2007. If you bash the time time-line hard enough, you can get a degree of match to Tapas 9 movements, though there are obvious problems with this. He had the word ‘furto’ (theft) hand-written next to his name on a list of employees.

At this point in time I am still thinking ‘witness’, not ‘arguido’, therefore I am wondering if there is more. One example of more might be that Ricardo Rodrigues had a record of burglary, but I hasten to add I have no evidence of this.

Another might be that someone calling Crimewatch re Smithman might have named José da Silva as a match. Again, I hasten to add I have no evidence of this. Further, the programme was broadcast in the UK, with equivalents in Germany and Holland, but not in Portugal. It is the case that ex-pats in Portugal had access to the programme, whilst local Portuguese viewers probably did not. This would mean identification by a non-Portuguese person, which seems to be of low probability.

Madeleine – José da Silva, furto

Another part of the reason that José da Silva was made an arguido may be that he appears in the PJ files on a printed list of employees of the Ocean Club, with the hand-written word ‘Furto’ beside his entry.

The word ‘furto’ is best translated as theft, linked to furtar, to steal. It is possible to translate it as burglary, but there are three words in Portuguese that mean burglary more directly.

The printed list of employees appears to have been used to check that statements were taken systematically from each one, so no-one was missed. The notes were jotted on top.

These hand-written notes that were added to the printed list cover several things, and appear in several different types of hand-writing.

Presumably, these notes were added by the PJ, but precisely who in the PJ added what, and when the notes were added, is not clear.

However, eight employees have notes added which implicates them in what looks like low-level criminal activity, of varying types. There is no previous record of a serious crime noted. There is nothing that approaches kidnapping. There is nothing of a sexual nature. And the nearest the notes get to burglary is furto, a word that fits better with theft, while three better words for burglary do not appear on the list.

The offences appear to cover driving without a licence, theft, drug trafficking, fraud, forgery, and trafficking (presumably in stolen or illegal goods). There is nothing to indicate precisely how serious these offences were. Take the drug trafficking for example. There is nothing to clarify whether this was significant or a very minor role in selling or moving drugs.

None of the 8 employees was questioned about these criminal records. Therefore, I must presume that the offences were considered minor, or alternatively that information about this was added after the witness interviews and no-one thought it worthwhile following up.

Of the 8, three have furto in their entry, and some curious coincidences exist. The only one of the 8 made an arguido was José da Silva, so why did Scotland Yard focus on him?

Two of those labelled furto appear to be boyfriend and girlfriend. One did a menial job in the Tapas kitchen. The other did a menial job in the Millennium restaurant. These do not seem to be likely suspects, despite the furto tag.

From the 8, a different two people were working in the Millennium on 3rd May when a searcher broke the news that a girl had gone missing. Both remembered seeing the McCanns in the restaurant on Saturday, 28 April 2007, when the Tapas 9 all trudged to the Millennium, because the Tapas restaurant was closed.

This would give these two suspects a head start in seeing the Tapas 9 together. However, the only other time the McCanns ate in the Millennium was Sunday morning, when the two suspects were not working. So this coincidence can be chalked off as just a coincidence.

A fifth person from the 8 was in apartment 5A on Tuesday, 1st May, to help out with maintenance. He was with a colleague from maintenance, and his statement is that he was in the kitchen and the parents’ bedroom only. The three children were not present. If we are talking burglary here, this was an ideal opportunity to go into the children’s bedroom to unlock the window, knowing that the shutter could be opened from the outside. Kate McCann, in her book ‘Madeleine’, states that the men helped her with the washing machine first, then she went out leaving them to fix the jammed shutter.

There is a 6th person on the list, one whom I would rate as a person of interest above José da Silva. I would like to set this persona aside to another post. However, the person has not been made an arguido, and as far as I know, has not been questioned in the SY investigation.

Of the 8 people on the list, there is just one person, a gardener, who seems to be of near zero interest whatsoever. He says he went home at his usual time on the day Madeleine disappeared, and saw the news of her disappearance on the media. That is a minor blip that cannot be true, as the news broke the following day.

This leaves us with the final person of the 8, José da Silva, and returns us to the question of why he was made an arguido.

He was a driver within the Ocean Club. He lived nearby in Luztur. He made 3 calls and a text to Ricardo Rodrigues on the evening 3rd May. He has an entry of ‘furto’ beside his name in the PJ files.

I am still scratching about for a reasonable explanation, until you look at the other people made arguidos, and the those appearing as witnesses.

Before that I want to do one last post to look at José da Silva, as there is one final piece in his puzzle.

Madeleine – José da Silva, Luztur

Who is José da Silva? So far, I have not covered much more information about him than he was made an arguido in July 2014, he was a driver handling tourist shuttles within the Ocean Club complex, and on 3rd May 2007, he had 3 phone conversations and exchanged one text with Ricardo Rodrigues.

The PJ Files that are in the public domain have been redacted. This is a pity as it makes getting basic information quite hard in some instances. However, in the case of José da Silva, despite the files being redacted, it is clear that at the time he was living in Edifício Luztur at the time of his statement.

The media describe his location as overlooking the Ocean Club. Is this true and does it give insight into the case?

Luztur is by far the tallest building in Luz. It is just south of the tennis courts, the Tapas area, and the high tea area where Madeleine was on 3rd May 2007.

Heriberto Janosch visited Luz in 2013 and located a José da Silva to the second floor of Luztur, on the north side of the building, around 30m from Rua Primeiro de Maio. That corresponds to ‘overlooking the Ocean Club’.

According to Google Earth, the distance between this location and the rear of apartment 5A is around 160m.

The location of the high tea area within the Tapas complex is not precisely defined. However, the distance from Luztur to the vicinity of the Tapas bar is around 100m to 110m. That is of the order of a football pitch, so I would put high tea well within the scope of someone in Luztur. Always assuming line of sight is possible, so is line of sight possible?

Heriberto located José da Silva to the second floor, but I can see no reason why José would be restricted to that. So I am working on the premise that he had access to all floors, and that some or all of the floors could overlook the high tea area. Fortunately, Heriberto’s photos from his 2013 visit are on Pamalam, so we can get an idea from one of those.

Luztur to Tapas 1

This photo is across the swimming pool to the Tapas bar, with Luztur in the background. To the right of the Tapas bar you can see the tennis courts. And now you get a good idea, in reverse direction, of the view from Luztur to the high tea vicinity.

The second floor of Luztur does not look like a good bet, but the photo shows areas farther up on the building that should have had a good enough view.

The phone call from José da Silva to Ricardo Rodrigues that occurred at 5:26pm on 3 May 2007 could relate to high tea starting to break up. And if so, that this event was seen by José from Luztur and signalled to Ricardo.

It looks like you need to be half way up Luztur before you get a decent view of the high tea area, possibly a little less to see the rear of apartment 5A.

However, hanging around half way up Luztur in a public area you don’t normally use is a decidedly odd choice of vantage point. And while it may, conceivably, work during daylight it is poorly placed for night viewing.

If you look at the Tapas restaurant in the following photograph (also from Heriberto), it is immediately clear that the top of the building forms an impenetrable barrier to viewing from Luztur. That makes Edifício Luztur a very poor lookout point for movements after 8:30pm when the McCanns went to the restaurant.

Luztur to Tapas 2

The call at 17:26 is a weak fit with the use of Luztur as an observation point. The text at 21:25 and the calls at 21:38 and 21:51 just don’t fit at all.

So although it is technically correct to say that José da Silva lived in an apartment ‘overlooking the Ocean Club’, the implication that this was used to monitor activity does not stand up to scrutiny.

José da Silva may have been involved. He may even have been a look-out. But I doubt he was doing it from Luztur.

Madeleine & José da Silva

José Carlos Fernandes da Silva was one of the four men made arguidos in July 2014. He was employed as a driver in the Ocean Club.

The reason for being made an arguido appears to be 3 phone calls and one text made to Ricardo Rodrigues on 3 May 2007. These are alleged to match with movements of the Tapas 9, though the reality is they are a poor fit.

If José da Silva is involved in a criminal basis, when did he first become aware that block 5 was occupied by potential targets, whether the intention was burglary or otherwise?

The reality is that two quite different routes were used by the Tapas 9 to get from the UK to Luz on 3rd May 2007.

Jane Tanner states that she flew in to Faro airport from Gatwick on 28 May 2007, taking off at 08:30 and landing around 10:00. Matthew and Rachael Oldfield were on the same flight. Jane Tanner further states that they went from Faro airport to the Ocean Club in a Mark Warner bus.

The Mark Warner arrivals list shows the flight was LGW XLA6156, expected to land at 10:40. The discrepancy in landing time is not important. However, LGW XLA6156 had 49 adults, children and infants all designated as going to Mark Warner in Luz, so clearly there was a logistics challenge with this flight, in terms of getting clients from Faro airport to the Ocean Club. The same issue should have arisen on Saturday 5th May, when these people were due to fly back to Gatwick from Faro.

In other words, at certain times there was a need to transport large numbers of clients between Faro airport and the Ocean Club. For arrivals, there was the need to get them to their assigned flat. I have no idea how checkout worked.

So how many drivers did the Ocean Club have? The PJ Files lists only two – José da Silva and Bernardino da Silva (probably no relation). This seems insufficient to cope with the numbers involved and also to make up a 24 hour rota, so it may be that some of the ferrying was achieved by other means. For example, a bus large enough to take 49 people and hired only for the Faro – Luz and Luz – Faro journeys makes more sense than shuttling 49 people in mini-buses.

The Paynes travelled with the McCanns and did not fly from Gatwick, so the transfer arrangements were different. Gerry McCann had organised a mini-bus at Faro airport, which handled the 5 adults, 5 children and their luggage. David Payne says that took them to the Ocean Club without incident. In his rogatory statement, he seems to imply that the same vehicle then took them to block 5.

However, Fiona Payne is clearer on this this. The mini-bus that Gerry had organised took them from Faro to the Ocean Club reception, where they all got out with their children and luggage. David or both men then went inside reception and booked them in, while Fiona remained outside with Kate. There was about a 15 minute delay before a Mark Warner mini-bus arrived, and transported them to 5A. Fiona gives very little information about the driver, other than he was male. There is no information as to whether the driver helped either party move their luggage into apartments within block 5.

The check-in process for those flying from Gatwick seems to have been quite different.

According to Matthew Oldfield, they were picked up at the airport in a bus, and given keys to their apartment while on the bus. The bus took them to outside the Tapas reception area, and from there Mark Warner staff helped them move their luggage into their apartments.

Rachael Oldfield confirms that a bus picked them up at Faro airport, that it had Mark Warner staff on it getting forms filled in. First she thinks that keys were given to guests whilst on the bus, then she thinks they may have been dished out at reception, without saying which reception (OC 24 hr or Tapas).

Matthew says the Paynes and the McCanns arrived later by taxi, and he went out to greet them. Quite clearly, a taxi was not going to stretch to 5 adults, 4 children and their luggage, therefore Matthew must have seen the mini-bus, or not seen the vehicle at all.

In summary, the O’Briens, the Oldfields and the other Mark Warner guests on flight LGW LXA6156 were transported from Faro to Luz in a large bus, while Mark Warner staff went through the check-in procedures on the journey. They were dropped near their accommodation and assisted to it by Mark Warner staff. In contrast, the Paynes and the McCanns transferred in a mini-bus or people carrier pre-booked by Gerry, got out at OC 24hr reception, checked in, and then were driven in a Mark Warner or Ocean Club mini-bus to block 5. Kate McCann confirms it as a Mark Warner rep at the beginning of chapter 4 of her book “Madeleine”.

José da Silva’s statement says he drove within the OC resort. It does not say he did airport transfers. Bernardino da Silva’s statement is more vague.

A group of 5 adults with 5 young children should have been memorable. Neither José da Silva or Bernardino da Silva recollected the McCanns, in terms of interacting with them prior to Madeleine’s disappearance.

It may be, of course, that neither driver took them from OC 24hr reception to block 5. It could be that any other male driver was rustled up, and consequently that person has not been asked about this short trip.

If arguido José da Silva did not transport the McCanns from the OC 24hr reception to block 5, and so know that the McCanns were in 5A, then the media speculation that he knew which flat was ripe for burglary is short of supporting evidence.

There is also another obstacle to overcome. Both drivers had the right to drive the mini-bus that took the McCanns to 5A. It would be reasonable to expect the DNA of both drivers in that vehicle. It would be reasonable to suggest that DNA from them in apartment 5A was simply cross contamination from the mini-bus. Further, if the driver helped the McCanns by entering 5A with their luggage, trying to rule him into a crime on this basis would be very shaky indeed.

So, apart from weak phone evidence and weak DNA evidence, is there any other reason to suspect José da Silva? There must be more to make him an arguido, surely?

Madeleine on arguido phones

July 2014 brought the following news development. According to media reports, three of the new arguidos are connected by phone communications. The timing of three calls and one text on the evening of 3rd May 2007, involving two of these three arguidos (José da Silva and Ricardo Rodrigues), are alleged to match movements of the Tapas 9.

Read on and make up your own mind.

Call #1 at 17:26 is allegedly linked to when Madeleine was signed out of her playgroup to go to apartment 5A. The records show that Gerry McCann signed the twins out at a time of 17:25, while Kate McCann signed Madeleine out with a time of 17:30. The records show children of the twins age being signed out from 17:20 to 17:25, while those of Madeleine’s age record 17:30.

If call #1 is linked, surely it has to be because someone could see all of the children were in the process of being signed out. Someone could see the end of the children’s high tea.

Phone communication #2 is a text at 21:25. This is allegedly when Matthew Oldfield and Russell O’Brien conducted a check. Broadly speaking, Matthew Oldfield’s statements support this time. However, other Tapas 9 members make it later, putting it in the gap between starters and main meal, and timing it at 21:30 to as late as 21:40. Even if the time matched perfectly, would someone send information of a dual person check by text?

Communication #3 is another call at 21:38. The media suggests this is a move by Jane Tanner, presumably to take over baby sitting duties from Russell O’Brien, who had stayed in his apartment because his daughter had been sick. There is little to define the time of this movement, other than Rachael Oldfield, who says 21:40 to 21:45. The meal ordering, serving and eating times suggest Rachael is correct, but the important word in this sentence is ‘suggest’.

Communication #4 is the final communication. It is another call at 21:51. The media alleges this is linked to Kate going to check. The Tapas 9, in the main, disagree. Matthew Oldfield does make Kate’s check around 21:50, which fits well. The bulk of the Tapas 9, and particularly Kate and Gerry, time Kate’s check to 22:00 or a few minutes after.

A slightly better fit for communication #4 is Russell returning to the Tapas restaurant, after Jane replaced him as the baby sitter. Russell estimates this as 21:55.

As far as I can tell, the original source for the communications is Correio da Manha, which claimed to have taken its information from an official document from Scotland Yard to Portuguese legal authorities. That media report is replete with errors, thus it is difficult to be sure what happened.

Before you make your mind up, please bear in mind the following facts.

Kate and Gerry arrived at the Tapas restaurant around 20:30. There was no ‘suspicious’ phone communication at this time.

The rest of the Tapas 9 arrived in dribs and drabs up to 21:00. None of this seems to have attracted phone communication.

Matthew Oldfield went back and checked around 21:00. Then Gerry shortly after. Then Jane Tanner. There was nothing on the suspicious phone front for any of these.

Perhaps the key is darkness. Up to the time when Jane Tanner saw her man, one could see well enough to work out a little bit about colours. After that, it was black and white only. Perhaps the 3 communications after dark were because it constituted an opportunity.

If the media reports are correct, the three people involved were made arguidos in July 2014, and were still arguidos in December 2014, which of course begs the question why. Sergey Malinka was made an arguido in 2014, but this status was removed by August 2014 latest.

What is Scotland Yard up to?