Madeleine – Steve Gibson on YouTube

A Mr. Steve Gibson has uploaded a YouTube video that seemingly follows on from one of the men identified in the Panorama 10 year special.

It is at https://youtu.be/XBmxYzo6vyo and was uploaded on 9 July 2017. Before you spend over 51mins of your life on this, let me explain the provenance.

Mr Gibson uploaded a shorter video to YouTube on the Madeleine McCann case, about one year earlier than his current opus. That video was rambling, full of swearing, and Mr Gibson made clear he was new to the case at that time. It is self evident from that video that Mr Gibson was fairly ignorant of the case basics.

Reading up for a year is unlikely to have transformed Mr Gibson’s expertise, but at least in his July 2017 effort he desists from swearing.

His basic train of thought is as follows.

  • Kate and Gerry McCann can be ruled out, largely on the response of the dogs.
  • The Tapas 7 can be ruled out, largely on the basis that they had no need to get involved in a cover-up.
  • Random individuals mentioned in the PJ Files, e.g. bogus charity collectors or alleged surveillance people, can be ruled out, largely on the basis that there was insufficient evidence of monitoring of apartment 5A.
  • This leaves an inside job, conducted by a staff member at the Ocean Club, with access to keys.
  • Cleaners can be ruled out, largely because Mr Gibson thinks they can.
  • Maintenance workers can be ruled out, largely because Mr Gibson thinks they can.
  • Staff such as restaurant workers, gardeners and drivers are ruled out, because Mr Gibson thinks it was done with a key to 5A.
  • That leaves those in administration (Ocean Club 24 hour reception). Of which Mr Gibson thinks they number around a dozen.
  • And for some reason, Mr Gibson then homes in on one of the Panorama people, Vitor dos Santos.

Perhaps it was the Panorama programme, perhaps not, but Mr Gibson has lifted both video and stills from that special to support his analysis. He has alleged that in the Panorama interview conducted by Richard Bilton, Sr dos Santos’ behaviour was strange, in that he mentioned several times that he had lost his job over the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, and that he expressed no emotional tie to Madeleine, or support for her parents.

He went further by overlaying on the Panorama footage the darker-skinned Smithman e-fit, thereby implying a likeness.

Mr Gibson went to considerable length to state he could not prove this theory, which is probably a wise decision.

I am not a fan of behavioural analysis. In Sr dos Santos’ position it strikes me as impossible to predict what ‘correct’ behaviour would be. And as for the Smithman e-fits, I am of the opinion these are junk quality, and tell us very little indeed.

There are things about Sr dos Santos as a suspect that are a poor fit. His statement shows that he was casado i.e. married, so exactly what he was going to do with a 3-year old girl is difficult to imagine. His economic situation seems to have deteriorated with his change of occupation. And 10 years on from Madeleine’s disappearance, he appears to be living and working close to Luz, in plain and common view.

Madeleine – Sergey Malinka’s Audi A4

An Audi A4 for someone of Sergey Malinka’s age in March 2008 seems quite an expensive and impressive car, so I did a bit of digging.

Mr Malinka’s car got fire-bombed in March 2008, whilst parked on Rua 25 de Abril, quite near to the apartment occupied by his parents and himself. The word Fala – Talk – was spray-painted on the pavement beside the wreck. As far as I know, no one has ever been brought to justice for this act.

I am looking at cars appearing in the history of Luz. The McCanns’ Renault Scenic was first-up, then I turned my attention to Sergey’s Audi A4. Cars in Portugal are extremely expensive, due to a scandalously high import tax. So I wondered how Mr Malinka could afford an A4, which got me thinking about how old Mr Malinka’s car was (they run forever in Portugal).

Fortunately, Mr Malinka’s A4 is in the PJ Files, and even better it appears in the dog-search videos. Here is (was) 10 91 FP. Portuguese licence plates now have a strip down the right hand side with the year and month of registration. The Audi does not have this, so it must pre-date this requirement. That means I have to work via the logo on the boot and the tail-light clusters.

From Sergey’s Audi A4 in the dog search.

There is a fairly distinctive boot shape. The tail light clusters have white reversing lights at the bottom centre. Thanks to all the petrol-heads in the world, I can date this shape from 1992 through to 1997.

After that, the rear end got a makeover. Here is a 1998 model.

This means Mr Malinka’s car was between 11 to 16 years old when it got torched. This may seem venerable, but as I have explained import taxes in Portugal are prohibitive, and because of this cars retain a much higher proportion of their purchase price than they do in the UK.

So the intriguing question remains as to how Sergey Malinka was able to afford an Audi A4 at his age.

Madeleine – XRX #1

A great deal of the photos I have found on historical Luz emanate from a source called XRX. http://www.xrx.pt.

This source is a bit of a mixed bag. I have no idea what XRX is meant to stand for. It seems to match up with the stock market code for Xerox, but I don’t think that is why it was picked here.

It is a local group of ‘lads’, interested in the things young males are interested in – girls in bikinis, fast cars, good times , and hoping that the idosa (elderly) will kindly get out of the way so the young can get on with it. Plus some jokes and ‘artistic’ material.

And then, strangely, they are interested in the photographic history of Luz, Lagos, Espiche, Burgau and Sagres. Oh, and there is some Madeleine McCann related material, typically hostile to the parents.

My main interest in XRX is the historical angle. A great number of photographs of the development of the area have been unearthed, and many of them I can relate to personally, knowing what has gone, what has remained, and what has been added.

A very simple but odd example of this is junctions on the N125, the ‘old’ road that runs along the Algarve, built prior to the A22 motorway. For years, junctions on the N125 have been being converted from traffic lights to roundabouts. A single junction often takes several years to convert. Examples include the junction of the M537 and N125, which was traffic lights in the McCann day, but is now a roundabout. And the junction on the N125 between Luz and Espiche, again traffic lights in the McCann era, but a roundabout nowadays.

This is the Operation Grange dig of the mound in central Luz in June 2014. This is a small slice of what I remember personally. Unfortunately, I was not interested in the Madeleine McCann case at the time, so I never bothered to take my camera when I went down to view the proceedings. Most of what I learned was gleaned from the news, though I never actually saw a single news broadcaster in action.

This one is interesting because it is dated to 1981. It shows the land east of the church is undeveloped, which means the Ocean Club was not yet in situ, though clearly new buildings were going up in Luz.

This is another photo that is dated, this time to 1996. The Ocean Club appears to be in place, complete with the Tapas tennis courts.

Supermercado Baptista as I know it has not been started. At this time it was working out of Luz Tur.

The fishing fleet seems to be gone. The tourists are out in great numbers. It still seems to be the Paraíso restaurant in its first incarnation.

Rua da Escola Primária had now been developed, complete with Pedras Brancas, which would house many of the Ocean Club staff. I cannot see Estrela da Luz, so not all the ingredients for the Smith sighting are in place.

Just behind is the Mound, looking much in 1996 as it does 20 years later.

And I have just noticed that the urbanisation we lived in for a year when we first arrived in Luz had not been started in 1996.

Luz – Panorama 3 May 2017

The BBC did a 10th anniversary special Panorama on 3 May 2017, regarding the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. In it, towards the end, they featured an interview with Senhor Vitor dos Santos. He had a senior job at the Ocean Club in 2007, had been working there for some 18 years, and the following year, he was made redundant, with a letter claiming this was due to the Madeleine fallout.

Senhor dos Santos then became a small-boat captain, taking tourists for a trip around a natural sea-wonder a few kilometres south of Lagos.

The stash of photos I found recently contains dozens and dozens of old Lagos. I find them interesting to flip though, because I can match many of them up to the modern day Lagos that I know. However, I don’t wish to get into documenting the history of Lagos.

So the following photo is only presented because it matches up with the Panorama interview of the intrepid boat-captain. This photo is simply dated as the 1940s.

Make up your own mind about what is going on here.

Personally, I am not seeing a tourist trip, with a boat captain making a living from this. I am seeing a family day out, a working group having a bit of fun time.

From the shadows, it looks like the sun is at its peak in midsummer.

The lens flare through the centre of the photo is entirely original. And I have no idea how this photo was posed.

Luz fishermen on beach – Life magazine

The following photo contains such a limited amount of information about Luz that at first I was not going to publish it.

I could get a rough idea of the season and the time of day, based on the direction and the length of shadows, but not the year.

However, I was intrigued by the Life logo on the photo, so I did a little digging.

Life ran as a photo based magazine from Nov 1936 when it was bought by Henry Luce. It was based in New York, and though it was aimed primarily at a US audience, it is supposed to have been read by Sir Winston Churchill. So that cut the possible date range down a bit.

A second check turned up near matching images in photo libraries. The key one is Getty Images, at http://www.gettyimages.pt/detail/fotografia-de-notícias/portuguese-men-standing-on-beach-fotografia-de-notícias/50639711?#portuguese-men-standing-on-beach-picture-id50639711 It is simply entitled Portuguese men standing on a beach.

The critical difference with the Getty Images version is that it does not have the Life logo.

Neither of the versions identify the location as Luz, nor identify the men as fishermen. That additional information appears to have been added by someone who recognised the hill shape behind, and Rocha Negra. Since the men are clearly not tourists, labelling them as fishermen seems pretty safe.

The sequence of events appears to be as follows. A photographer, Eliot Elisofon, took the photo and Getty Images acquired the rights. The Getty Images version is dated 1 Sep 1948. Then Life paid for publishing rights, added a Life logo, and put it in its weekly magazine.

Unless I get my hands on the relevant Life magazine, I cannot be certain whether any accompanying article mentions Luz, but the evidence thus far suggests not.

If that is the case, then nearly 50 years before Madeleine McCann disappeared, Luz had 60 seconds of fame in the US, even if not by name.

Luz at the beginning of the 20th century #2

Here are more photos of Luz supposedly from the early 20th century. I cannot discern anything in them to confirm this date, but I have no reason to assume the date is inaccurate.

Although early 20th century appears to have little to do with Madeleine McCann, it does put into context how Luz evolved up to the time that the Ocean Club was built. That in turn impacts the fact that the Ocean Club is not a private complex. Rather, it is completely interwoven with public roads and areas. That in turn means that it is impossible for the Ocean Club to have CCTV, with the exception of a few internal areas.

If these photos are really from around the 1900s, there is an implication. Today, Luz regularly gets an influx of visitors from Lisbon and Oporto. I was having a sea-front discussion on 2 May 2017, and the café had a large contingent of Portuguese customers, in groupings which looked like tourists rather than locals. But Lisbon is 3 hours away in a modern car on a modern motorway. How long did it take in horse-drawn transport or early cars?

Have a look at this photo.

These are the rocks to the south of the Fortaleza, and the view is east towards Rocha Negra. The ladies appear to be dressed in their Sunday finest. The photo is as posed as posed can be. It looks as if someone may have hand-tinted the photo to add some red effects to the clouds, but that could have other explanations, such as originating with the scanning process.

I have no expertise whatsoever in Portuguese historical clothing, so I cannot use it as a clue.

However, the length of time today for the trip from Lisbon suggest this group is not from there, but much closer. I have already posted photos of early Luz, which show some large buildings on 25th April Street, so a possibility is wealthy citizens of Luz, perhaps after a Sunday visit to Nossa Senhora da Luz.

Gonçalo Amaral raises an alternative possibility in his book A Verdade da Mentira. He suggests that Luz had a certain popularity with the citizens of Lagos, and in the early 20th century, that journey would not have been hard either by horse and carriage or by early motor transport.

Here is another photograph, this time taken near the small beach, to the west of the main beach.

The clothes appear to me to be slightly less up-market, though I would still describe them as posh. This is less posed, but the thing that is interesting is that everyone is on the rocks. No-one is actually on the little beach.

The 1492 in the bottom has no real significance. The Fortaleza was built much later. I have yet to find out what Vivenda Mascarenhas means.

This last photo simply gives a pictorial idea of the scale of fishing in Luz a century or so ago.

The legend says ‘fishermen washing the nets on the beach.’ Presumably, the catch has been taken into Luz to be processed, and the nets need to be cleaned of fish remains before storing them.

It looks like 8 sailing ships to me, each much larger than a row-boat, and each powered by sail. There are 13 fishermen involved in this washing of the nets. I don’t know whether this is the only net used, or whether each boat came near the beach in turn and the collective then helped to wash that particular net.

From the size of the mesh, it looks like they were fishing for very large fish, such as tuna.

The fishing industry in Luz would slowly decline, and cross over with the tourist industry when it began to take off.

Grégory Villemin via Anne Guedes

Anne Guedes dropped a link into my blog about the cold case story of Grégory Villemin. The programme was a French talk show discussion of the case. It happens to have a short section on the Madeleine McCann incident. I made the mistake of not doing some research on Grégory beforehand, so I was labouring under French that I learned over 40 years ago and have seldom used since. The case is also known as Little Grégory, the Grégory Affair, and the French equivalents thereof.

The Villemins had been getting unsigned letters and anonymous phone calls from a male threatening revenge against Grégory’s father, Jean-Marie Villemin. It appears that in France, the sender of such anonymous letters becomes The Crow – Le Corbeau.

On 16 Oct 1984, the Villemins received a phone call, saying the boy had been taken and thrown in a river. Grégory’s body was found in a river 7km away. His hands and feet had been bound with rope.

On 17th Oct 1984 the Villemins received another anonymous letter stating “I have taken revenge”.

Based on handwriting analysis, a cousin of the father came under suspicion. He was released without charges, but Jean-Marie publicly vowed to kill him. On 25 Mar 1985, Jean-Marie shot dead his cousin, Bernard Laroche, and served 5 years in prison for murder.

Also due to handwriting analysis, Grégory’s mother, Christine Villemin, came under suspicion, but was eventually cleared.

At various points in time, the case has been re-examined, due to advances in DNA testing.

In June 2017, based on new evidence, 3 people were arrested. One has since been cleared. The other two, a great-aunt and great-uncle have invoked their right to silence.

Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Gr%C3%A9gory_Villemin

The programme is at https://youtu.be/_r5nMrWcij8 The section on Madeleine McCann starts around 46.30.

I do not intend getting involved in Grégory’s case. I only do Madeleine’s case because Operation Grange conducted an expensive, farcical dig in Luz in June 2014. However, Grégory’s story is sufficiently interesting to do this single post.

My thanks to Anne for bringing this case and the programme link to my attention.