I have been checking the files to narrow down when the Tapas 9 booking ‘arrived’ at the Ocean Club. That is the earliest date at which a person working in Luz could possibly have known that Madeleine was to arrive.
Kate’s book “Madeleine” does not cover this in detail. In chapter 3 it covers when the idea of a holiday in Portugal was first raised with the McCanns, and whether Kate had misgivings about the visit. The only reference I can see is that David Payne raised the possibility of the booking on 1st Jan 2007, whilst visiting the McCanns. Then the book moves to chapter 4, and the trip to Luz on 28th of April. There is no information about the booking date or making payment, merely that the concept was raised on 1 Jan 2007.
However, that little section of chapter 3 flagged up an important fact that I had not recognised before. Of the 8 children going to Portugal with the Tapas 9, only Sean was male. The other 7 were female.
The breakdown of the children is on the Mark Warner arrivals listing. The Ocean Club records that I have seen do not carry this breakdown. In any case, the source of the booking is Mark Warner to Ocean Club, not direct from the Tapas 9 to the Ocean Club. Therefore the Mark Warner listing is critical.
The Mark Warner arrivals list is at http://www.mccannpjfiles.co.uk/PJ/ARRIVALS.htm It shows one male child (Sean), three infants of non-identified gender, and four female children in the age range 2-3 years. And there is that request to locate the Tapas 9 in close proximity to each other.
David Payne made the booking with Mark Warner. So I turned to his two statements to see if any information could be gleaned. His statement made while in Portugal does not mention a booking date.
David’s rogatory statement is fairly vague on this topic. He says the idea of a Mark Warner holiday in Portugal surfaced around Christmas 2006.
Some of the minor details he comments on may well be in error. He states that only the Mark Warner site running in late April was Portugal. This is inaccurate. At least two Mark Warner sights in Egypt were up and running, with flights offered on 27 April 2007 and 29 Apr 2007. One of these was definitely open by 13th April latest, according to special summer offers from Mark Warner.
This information is of little relevance, other than to point out the possibility that if Egypt had been chosen, perhaps Madeleine would be safe and well. On a practical basis, a flight to Egypt for 8 very young children is a lot more arduous than a flight to Portugal. A possibility, therefore is that David saw Egypt was on offer, but thought that would be a real struggle for the Tapas 9 and their children at that time, and so decided Portugal was a better idea.
In an earlier post, I referred to the statement of Luis Duarte. He says he handled reservations, but that he did not handle the McCann reservation. He was in Madeira when Madeleine disappeared.
So who did handle the McCann reservation, and who had access to the Mark Warner booking information?
Vitor Dos Santos, Head of Accommodation, states that he handled the McCann reservation. He states that there was a request to locate the Tapas 9 together, which can be seen on the Mark Warner arrivals list.
He then states something odd. He says that there was a request to locate the Tapas 9 on the ground floor, as the families had young children.
That request is not noted on the Mark Warner arrivals list, even though many other parents requested this, and those requests do appear on the Mark Warner list.
Perhaps a request was made by phone from Mark Warner to the Ocean Club, or by email, but it is not recorded in the relevant parts of the PJ files.
And while 3 families were located on the ground floor, I cannot work out why the Paynes were one floor up. Even if 4C, the unoccupied flat on the ground floor was not suitable, wasn’t there a T2 on the ground floor of block 4 that was both available and near to the others? The occupancy rate was around 50%, so a little bit of juggling should have satisfied a ground floor request.
Vitor goes on to say something else that is accurate, but somewhat odd.
He says that the McCanns had a choice of the Tapas Restaurant and the Millennium for their evening meal (on half board with Mark Warner). He says that the McCann choice makes sense, given that the Tapas Restaurant was, in his statement, 100m away, while the Millennium was 600m away. I think he is a little out on both figures, but the gist is correct.
Plonk a large group, on half-board, with a lot of young kids in block 5, and the chances are they will be dining in the Tapas Restaurant. That part is actually fairly predictable.
After that, things become a bit more unpredictable, and I’d like to leave this to a later post, so for the moment, let me return to the subject of when the booking was made, and who within Luz had access to this information.
David Payne in his rogatory statement says that there was quite a bit of discussion, and time elapsed, after the concept of a Mark Warner holiday in Portugal was first floated. He does not say precisely when the booking was made. However, he does say in his rogatory statement that shortly after his extended discussions with Mark Warner took place, Mark Warner offered a 10% discount on the Ocean Club.
He also states that because the listening service was not offered in the Ocean Club in Luz, he tried a bit of cheek, to get a discount, and he states that he got some.
So when did Mark Warner offer a 10% discount in the run up to Luz of May 2007?
They offered a couple of early-booking deals, but both of those expired on Feb 28, 2007. David Payne is not talking about those. Neither the timing nor the conditions of the deal fit his statement.
On 22nd March 2007, the histirical records show Mark Warner altering the UK website from saying there were early-booking deals to those deals had closed. On 7th April 2007, the website for Mark Warner showed that a discount of approximately 10% was available for bookings, where the departure was for the Ocean Club on 28 Apr 2007 (for a period of 7 days).
This fits David Paynes statement perfectly. He did not book immediately after January 2007, or within the deals offered to 28 Feb 2007. He did not book until shortly before the ‘new deals’ were rolled out by Mark Warner.
We now have a time frame for the booking of roughly mid-March to week one of April. Week one of April does not fit the extended interchange between David Payne and Mark Warner. It does not fit a fly date for 9 adults and 8 children.
I am guessing that the booking took place in early March, after the February deals expired, but long enough to give the Tapas 9 time to organise the trip. All I know for certain is that it should have happened before the Mark Warner deal that appears on the website on 7th April 2007 or earlier.
Who in Luz had access to the actual booking information at this date? Who knew they were going into block 5?
This depends on when the allocation of the Tapas 9 to block 5 was made. Before that, anyone with access to the Mark Warner IT system knew names, gender, ages, and a proximity request, but not location.
Vitor Dos Santos says he handled the McCann booking. Luis Duarte says that he also handled bookings, therefore he had access to such information. I don’t know what John Hill (Ocean Club manager) had access to. I find it impossible to believe that he did not have access to the IT systems in place at that time, though his ability to update the records could prove critical. Then there was an IT bod who fits the same profile. He probably had access to the system, whether he could update it or not. There are almost certainly others in the Ocean Club 24hr reception with similar capabilities.
Here we have an unturned stone. Nailing the date when the booking was made would move the case forward. Nailing the date the allocation was made to block 5 would move the case forward. Nailing who had read access to the the OC/MW IT systems, and who was allowed to update the OC/MW IT systems would move the case forward.
So many unturned stones.