Madeleine v Paços de Ferreira

Paços de Ferreira’s opening match in the Primeira Liga this year is away to Marítimo of Madeira.

http://www.dn.pt/desporto/interior/pacos-de-ferreira-vai-de-barco-para-a-madeira-8689787.html

My interest in this is simple. The news report says the team is making the trip by boat from Porto Santo, and the sea trip will last 2.5 hours. This is when things did not look right, surely no one could have taken Madeleine to Madeira by sea in so short a time.

The reason that the football team is using a ferry to get to Madeira is that Madeira’s airport, Cristiano Ronaldo, has been closed for some time, due to exceptionally strong winds over the island. As it happens, Cristiano Ronaldo has already re-opened, and some 8 aircraft have landed and 5 departed.

Back to Paços de Ferreira and Porto Santo. It turns out that Paços de Ferreira are located to the north-east of Porto, so the team is going to be doing a lot of travelling this season.

Here is a map of south-west Iberia, and out into the Atlantic.

Madeira is the island marked with Funchal. Porto Santo is the much smaller island above and to the right. The gap between that looks tiny is what is going to take 2.5 hours by boat. So it’s plain that a journey by sea from mainland Portugal to Madeira would take days.

Madeira happens to have two relevancies to the Madeleine McCann story, which is why this news item popped out at me. In an intelligence report around the year 2000, Madeira was noted as one of 4 paedophile hotspots in Portugal though, from memory, it was more to do with in-family activity and sex tourism. While the person other than Vitor dos Santos who handled bookings at the Ocean Club, Luis Duarte, was having a short break in Madeira when Madeleine disappeared.

Returning to Paços de Ferreira, their match v Marítimo kicks off at 4pm tomorrow, and they expect to depart Madeira at 8pm for the marathon trip home. Weather conditions will determine whether they fly direct to Porto from Cristiano Ronaldo or whether they transfer back to Porto Santo by boat.

ETA Marítimo 1  Paços de Ferreira 0.

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Madeleine – date of booking

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.

Madeleine on Luz radar 2

The second Luz radar system that Madeleine appears on is the Ocean Club arrivals list. Thus she is not simply in one data system, but two. That is what I would expect if Mark Warner was the tour operator, and was renting apatments that were operated by the Ocean Club.

The Ocean Club arrival list for 28/4/07, the day that Madeleine arrived is at http://www.mccannpjfiles.co.uk/PJ/ARRIVALS.htm

The date and time of the list’s production is 27/4/07 at 18:35. It happens to be next to a checklist of cleaners and where they worked. The latter was produced on 7 May 2007, and judging by the notes, the PJ officers were systematically checking through this unit of Ocean Club employees.

The OC arrival list is ordered by apartment number, which is what would be needed for the cleaning supervisor to choose the correct keys and to make sure the cleaners were in the correct apartments getting them ready for arrivals. It is speculation on my part, but I would guess the “P” beside each entry stands for preparada, meaning prepared.

This OC arrival list probably does not match the full information kept in the OC database. If true, someone with access to the database got more information.

The OC list shows 186 adults and 8 children. Since the MW list had 30 children and 15 infants, and all of the MW bookings appear on the OC list, clearly there was no automatic integration of these systems. Entries from the MW list were manually entered into the OC list.

A sort by folio number on the OC list suggests the way this was done. The MW arrivals appear as blocks of consecutive folio numbers. This suggests a block would be picked off the MW list and entered into the OC system, thereby getting consecutive folio numbers.

On a folio number sort, the McCanns appear early in the list of arrivals, so OC staff had early warning of their arrival, and with access to the MW details they knew children’s ages and genders.

This may or may not develop to the point that OC staff, with control over apartment allocation and access to keys had months of advance warning if a planned abduction was in the offing. Again, it should be borne in mind that Madeleine quite possibly was not a specific target, but merely a choice that ticked the right boxes.

Of the 8 children on the OC list, rather oddly only 3 are from a second tour operator using the Ocean Club i.e. Thomas Cook. My first thought was that as they might not have access to the OC sports facilities and children’s clubs they were not recorded separately, but I discarded that.

With all those children and infants coming from the MW side, the OC chose to count only 5 of them. It looks as if children’s details were of limited interest to the OC. Perhaps the MW arrivals, landing in one huge dollop with some minor dribs and drabs was a situation that required cots and high chairs in advance, whilst Thomas Cook arrivals, which seem much more spread out, could be handled by OC reception.

Whatever the reason, Madeleine (and other children) were actually visible on 2 Luz radars. One was the Ocean Club radar, where she appears but is hard to see. The second is Mark Warner radar, where because of the notes the Tapas 9 and their children are the brightest of the lot. Presumably, there was a third radar, one for Thomas Cook, and it looks like the OC had access to that, due to the manner in which they transferred Thomas Cook bookings in blocks also.

Is there anything else that can be deduced from the OC arrival list? Quite clearly allocation of apartments could be achieved automatically, over-riding any automatic mechanism. There are owner bookings, which obviously meant the owner, or friends, got a specific apartment. The bookings can be altered for requests, such as location within the OC, floor to be on, and most importantly, to put 4 families nearby.

So, from the time that the bookings were made, early in 2007, OC staff who had access to both systems had enough information to target the children of the T9, if such was their intent. Whether said persons also controlled allocation of families to apartments, and had access to keys is somewhat less clear.

Luis Miguel da Conceição Duarte was Reservations Manager for the Ocean Club. In his statement, Luis Duarte says he had worked in the OC for 12 years, rising through the ranks. He worked in the OC main reception and says he carried out all aspects of reservation handling, including allocation of apartments.

He states he was on holiday in Madeira from 2 May 2007 to 6 May 2007. His normal hours were 09.30 to 18.00, with a hour off for lunch, Monday to Friday.

He adds something odd. He states that he did not handle the McCann reservation. This is rather strange, as on Friday 28th May, he should have been at work, handling the reservation processing necessary for the large number of arrivals on Saturday, when the McCanns arrived.

Could it be that Luis Duarte meant he did not handle the physical arrival of the McCann family on Saturday 28th May? Since he did not normally work on a Saturday and he did not mention that he had worked that particular Saturday, why would he have processed the physical arrival?

Could it be that Luis Duarte meant he did not transfer the McCann booking from the MW system to the OC system? If so, that would be strange, given his duties. On top of this, the McCann booking was made in early 2007, and to remember this would be a remarkable feat of memory.

What Luis Duarte does not mention is who carries out his duties when he is absent. Nor does he mention who handled the McCann reservation if he did not.

None of this means that Luis Duarte is guilty of anything. I am simply pointing out another security weakness in the system, which allowed extended time to plan and manufacture an abduction, regardless of whether Madeleine was THE target or just one of several suitable targets.