Madeleine – the no news photos

I have been meaning to pack away a few photos before we relocate and as there seems to be no news on the Madeleine McCann front, this seems as good a time as any.

Both of the following photos were taken around 5.50pm, today, 15 Jun 2017. The temperature hit 37°C at lunchtime, which is far too hot for me. We currently live on a hilltop in the north of Luz and that means we get any breeze going, which is brilliant through Spring, Summer and Autumn. Our family juniors have already moved to our new house inland, and they tell us it is baking, with no wind, so I am contemplating how to make a lot of artificial wind when we need it there.

Here is the first of two photos.

I took this simply because that purple-flowering tree is stunning. I have no gardening skills, so I had to ask what type of tree it is. I am informed it is a jacaranda, and I want one when we move. We have around 300m of land that we are not permitted to build any structure on, so we might as well have a pretty garden.

The second photo is simply a view of Luz that you don’t get in any of the stock photos.

This is looking from Monte Lemos in the extreme north of Luz roughly due west. There are two positioning aides in it. In the background you can see the hill on which Boa Vista golf complex resides, stretching to Rocha Negra at the southern end. On the hill you can see the track possibly used by Kate and Gerry McCann when they went running to ascend the hill, but there is an easier route.

In the centre of the photo in the middle distance is a row of villas and sticking up near the left hand end is a thing that looks like a tree. In fact, it is artificial. It is a phone mast that was put in with the intention of providing the Internet throughout Luz, but the project failed. It locally called the pineapple roundabout even though the structure looks like a palm tree. It sits near the northern end of Rua Primeira de Maio, a few yards or metres up from the Hotel Belavista.

If you look nearer than this to the centre-right, you can see a very large villa done in white. That is one of two luxury villas that have recently been built on Monte Lemos in a speculative enterprise. Neither will get finished until someone buys them and specifies how they want the interior to look.

This means that although the Ocean Club is dead, there is still investment and building at the high end of the market. Whether BrExit impacts this remains to be seen.

The orange or sandy-coloured villa behind the white one is obscuring any view of apartment 5A, the Ocean Club, and most of central Luz, but apartment 5A is far enough away that it would not appear from this spot.

Madeleine – Sky special – 2 May 2017

On 2 May 2017, Sky showed ‘Searching for Madeleine’, a special to mark the10th anniversary of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. The presenter was Martin Brunt, who has followed the case for the 10 years since it began. The studio guest was Colin Sutton, an ex-DCI from Scotland Yard with experience of conducting major investigations.

The fist 10 minutes covered the basics. The holiday, the Tapas zone, the initial response to the incident by Portuguese police.

Sky News on 4 May 2007 ran with the story that a 3 year old British girl was missing on the Algarve. Pedro do Carmo, Deputy Director, Judicial Police, described the initial work as a rescue operation, looking for a child that was missing.

Here Sky hit its first wobbly. It says the apartment was let out twice before it was sealed off for a full forensic examination. The reality is different. The PJ from Portimão tried to collect forensic evidence in the very early hours of 4 May 2007. Irene Trovão, also a local forensic officer, was videoed checking the shutter of the children’s bedroom for fingerprints. And while Gerry and Kate McCann were giving their first witness statements, a forensics duo from Lisbon conducted the major forensic examination on the afternoon of 4 May 2007. The forensics had been done. There was no way to foresee the apartment should be sealed off until Eddie and Keela were deployed.

The centrepiece of the Sky programme was a Home Office report written by Jim Gamble, then head of CEOP, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

This documented the many organisations that were involved close to the beginning, and the difficulties this caused. Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary at the time, questioned if Leicestershire Police had the wherewithal to handle this type of investigation. Mr Gamble was asked to consider if it was worth getting Scotland Yard involved. Mr Gamble suggested a scoping review to identify if opportunities had been missed, but officials appeared to be set against this.

Mr Gamble was shocked to find the parents had not been investigated first by the Portuguese police, in order to clear the ground for further enquiries. He went on to say the Portuguese response was inadequate, but he used a comparison in the UK that does not approximate to the situation in Luz in 2007. I will return to that in a future post.

Colin Sutton made the point that a snapshot of the incident area was not constructed, and more could have been done by UK police re interviewing British holidaymakers who had returned to the UK, and British workers in the ‘complex’.

My main criticism of the early effort is that apparently little was done to get door-to-door information in the immediate vicinity of apartment 5A.

Sky went on to cover leaks to the Portuguese press, concerning dog alerts and supposed DNA results. Mr Sutton pointed out that dog alerts are not evidence.

The events around the McCanns being made arguidos, flying home to the UK, and removal of arguido status upon archiving of the case was covered.

There appeared to be a 3-way split between the McCanns, the Portuguese police and the UK police. The CEOP report then makes an odd assertion. It alleges the McCanns had a significant amount of information from their private investigators, and this information had not been fully shared with either the Portuguese police or the UK police. I cannot see how Mr Gamble could reach such a conclusion. Perhaps it is explained in the CEOP report, but I haven’t read that document.

Mark Rowley, Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police, explained there had been a discussion of the case in 2011 between the Prime Ministers of Portugal and the UK, and it was agreed that Scotland Yard would get involved.

The documentary then covered the remit. Colin Sutton explained that a fresh investigation should start right at the beginning. This echoes what was said by Jim Gamble. However, Operation Grange was to be restricted to abduction. AC Mark Rowley says parental involvement had been covered by the original Portuguese investigation. The recent Supreme Court decision made it clear this is not the case.

The Sky documentary moved on to the Jane Tanner sighting. Martin Brunt pointed out the obvious – namely if the man was coming from the Ocean Club night crèche, then he was going the wrong way. Jane Tanner’s rogatory statement pointed out this problem. If the night crèche closed at 11.30pm, It is actually more likely that at 9.15pm, the time of the Tanner sighting, he was heading towards the night crèche.

Scotland Yard presented two e-fits of a man carrying a child ‘towards the beach’. This of course was the Smith sighting at 10pm. Crimewatch 2013 did indeed state this man was heading towards the beach.

This suggests that Martin Brunt does not fully understand the Smith sighting. 12-year-old Aoife Smith’s statement does not fit with ‘towards the beach’. Should Mr Brunt ever return to Luz, I will be happy to show him why Aoife Smith’s statement strongly suggests ‘towards the beach’ is wrong. And why that man is likely to be Portuguese and innocent. Plus why that man is unlikely to come forward. And what needs to be done to get him to identify himself.

The documentary covered Operation Grange’s look at charity collectors. There is an easy test for this. The bogus ones do door-to-door, and disappear rapidly if they make some cash. The genuine ones go to the main thoroughfares and work there for hours on end.

Then Sky covered a burglary gone wrong. Whilst Operation Grange evaluated this as viable, Portuguese police did not think it likely.

The documentary moved to mobile phone data. The CEOP report says there was lots of it, but it was badly handled by Portuguese investigators. It had not been fully analysed, and the Portuguese should accept UK help. This sounds to me to be very over-simplistic, but I cannot be certain as I have not read the CEOP report.

Then the documentary moved to its weakest point, what can be extracted from that phone data. Nothing Colin Sutton said on this has much relevance to Luz on 3 May 2007.

As is normal, there were 3 cellphone operators in Luz – Optimus, TMN and Vodafone. Roughly speaking, each operator cuts Luz into a western half and an eastern half, and that is as much as you get. Was the cellphone active in Luz that night, and if so, was it in the west of Luz or the east.

Take for example Kate McCann. Her phone was active that night on Optimus antenna Luz 2. That antenna covers the east of Luz, and apartment 5A is indeed in the east of Luz. But the whole of the Ocean Club is in the eastern half of Luz, as is the majority of the commercial establishments e.g. the Mirage. I cannot tell from phone data if Kate was in or around 5A when her phone was active. The phone data is very rough.

Further, DCI Andy Redwood has said that a major obstacle to phone data analysis was PAYG phones.

4 people were made arguidos in July 2014, but have now been informed they are no longer persons of interest.

The new Portuguese investigation focussed on a series of sex attacks in the Algarve. It would appear most were on older children, but one was on a child aged 3. Euclides Monteiro, an ex-waiter at the Ocean Club, was identified by the Portuguese investigation as a suspect for the sex attacks. DNA tests ruled out Mr Monteiro. He had been killed in a tractor accident in 2009.

The Sky documentary examined the woke and wandered theory. Local ex-pat Mr John Ballinger provided some photos of the road works in Luz around that time. There was no examination as to why Kate McCann’s description of apartment 5A that night is a poor fit with woke and wandered.

Mr Brunt pointed out that there is no evidence to prove Madeleine came to any harm, so she may still be alive.

Have lessons been learned from the disappearance of Madeleine McCann? Jim Gamble and Alan Johnson think not.

The documentary covered some of the Internet abuse directed at Kate and Gerry. Two police investigations found no evidence of their involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance. The Sky investigation also found no such evidence.

It concluded that the mystery of what happened to Madeleine McCann remains just that. A mystery.

AC Mark Rowley said there is a significant line of enquiry that remains to be pursued, but would not divulge what it was.

On the armchair experts forum that I prefer, the general view was that little was learned from this Sky special. However, that is not the correct view to take, in my opinion. This programme was not aimed at a handful of amateur detectives. It was targeting the greater British public. And for those, I suspect the key point that was delivered was that roughly £12 million down the line, the investigation is fatally flawed because, despite what DCI Andy Redwood said, it did not start by going back to the very beginning.

Madeleine and the loquat trees

The trees in the photo bearing small yellow fruits are loquat trees. The location is on the short route between apartment 5A and Madeleine’s playgroup above the Ocean Club 24 hour reception. The photo was taken on 11/3/2017.

A year ago in March a visitor and I were exploring the short route as a small part of the first Luz Tour. As we passed the tree on the left of my photo, I was astonished when my visitor picked one of the loquats and ate it, and survived to tell the tale.

I only found out later that these are loquat trees, and that the fruit is poisonous when unripe. In the photo, what you can see is the west half of the trees, and the fruit looks fairly ripe. However on the east half of the trees, the fruit is entirely green, and obviously not ripe. There must be more sun on the west side.

Anyway, I tried one of yellowest ones, and it was clearly not ripe. It was acidic and quite bitter, so I ate perhaps one small bit. This apparently makes loquat trees safe to have around. When unripe, no one can eat enough loquats to come to harm.

On 3 May 2016 I was on another Luz Tour. I had found out the trees are loquat trees and the fruit is edible when ripe, so I wanted to try one. To my amazement, there wasn’t a single loquat fruit in sight. They had all gone.

I could not tell whether that is normal for loquats, or whether someone in the Ocean Club had harvested the fruit. Loquat is Chinese or Japanese plum, so possibly it disappeared into loquat pies, loquat jam or loquat wine.

If this disappearance occurs by April 28 each year, then Madeleine would have seen the loquat trees but not the exotic yellow plums.

Madeleine v the call that wasn’t

Kate McCann raised the alarm that Madeleine was missing at around 10.05pm on 3 May 2007.

According to Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter at the the Telegraph, on 29 Apr 2016,

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/03/16/madeleine-mccann-latest-are-police-any-closer-to-knowing-the-tru/

In the nine years since Madeleine McCann went missing from a holiday apartment in Portugal, myriad theories about what happened to her have taken root, but only one fact remains uncontested: that she was reported missing at 10.14pm on the evening of Thursday, May 3, 2007.

It was at that point, when police were called, that the clock started ticking on the biggest missing persons investigation for decades, a search which remains very much active to this day.

Facts, the hard currency of any police investigation, have proved almost uniquely elusive; every sighting, every timing and every witness statement has been disputed in the years that have elapsed since.”

Gordon Rayner’s bio says he joined the Telegraph in 2007, and I can date an article to him to Sep 2007, in which he is described as a Chief Reporter, so presumably he joined in that capacity.

This particular article has been running in the Telegraph for years, updated with a new line or two, as and when, but basically the same article.

What do Mr Rayner’s opening paragraphs tell us. First, that the police were called at 10.14pm on 3 May 2007, and second, that there are no other uncontested facts.

However, the telephone company records for the calls made from the Ocean Club to the GNR in Lagos show the first call was at 10.41pm, or about 35 minutes after the alarm was raised.

So where does Mr Rayner’s idea of a 10.14 call originate? The provenance can be traced back to around 9 Sep 2007. The Telegraph, via Chief Reporter Gordon Rayner, on 11 Sep 2007, came up with 10.14pm. The Times on 9 Sep 2007 made it 10.14 to 10.15pm, attributed the story to the McCanns, and fleshed it out with the tale that this call was organised by a friend.

This provenance almost certainly goes further back than this. The McCanns were made arguidos on 7 Sep 2007, and I doubt this non-call was top of their agenda around 9 Sep 2007. However, there is a Times report by Penny Wark dated 4 Sep 2007 which covers a lot of ground in the case but makes no mention of this alleged call.

Who was the friend who made this non-call? That seems to be Matthew Oldfield, the same person who made the non-check on Madeleine at 9.30pm. In Matthew’s rogatory, he says he went to OC reception to request that the police were called, but did not insist on it. He left the Ocean Club reception thinking that Madeleine might have returned after having wandered off, so presumably he was not yet convinced by the abduction angle.

This non-call to the GNR appears to be pivotal. In a building in Lisbon, Securitas Portugal would be the next to call the GNR in Lagos, to report an incident in Odiáxere.

This is a list of the calls to the GNR in Lagos on 3 May 2007. It’s in an odd order, but there is no record of a call from the Ocean Club until 10.41pm, with a second at 10.53pm. This can be labelled as the ‘hurry-up’ call to the GNR patrol officers. Greentrust is the name of the Portuguese company used by Mark Warner to administer the Ocean Club.

If you look at the list of calls you will see that there were 3 from Securitas Direct Portugal, 214147000, to the GNR Lagos, 282762809. After Matthew Oldfield’s non-call around 10.14 or 10.15, the next real call to the GNR was from Securitas, at 10.30.

Here is a map of where Securitas was located re Lisbon. The GNR training school and dog unit was at Queluz, about 2 miles to the north.

The call to the GNR Matthew Oldfield did not enforce at around 10.14 meant the GNR Lagos responded to the Securitas call at 10.30, and headed instead to an incident in Odiáxere, a fair distance from Luz.

The second call from Securitas to Lagos GNR was at 10.44. The hurry-up call from the Ocean Club to the GNR was 9 minutes later. Securitas made a third call at 11.19pm.

The responding officers said they were at Valverde when they were told to hurry up. I don’t know what delay there was between the incoming phone call from the Ocean Club and passing that information to the patrol car. The call from the Ocean Club to the GNR in Lagos ended around 10.54pm, so presumably it was after this time.

There is another call of interest on this sheet. 964098114 called GNR Lagos at 11.09pm, lasting 41 seconds. This mobile number was noted as belonging to Silvia Batista. That call I will park for another post.

Madeleine v the double buggy

In the Crimewatch of Oct 2013, the reconstruction shows the McCanns, all played by actors and actresses, in an early trip around the Ocean Club soon after arriving in Luz. ‘Gerry’ is pushing a double buggy containing the ‘twins’, ‘Kate’ is walking in front with an inflated pool ring (which appears to be adult sized) and ‘Madeleine’ is romping out ahead.

I cannot get a clear photo of the Crimewatch double buggy as ‘Kate’ is always obscuring it. This is the best I can do.

20131013-crimewatch-double-buggy

The double buggy is one of the numerous errors in Crimewatch. The McCanns did not take any kind of a buggy with them.

From Kate’s book ‘madeleine’, about their first afternoon/evening in Luz

Afterwards we strolled over to the Millennium restaurant for dinner. … The restaurant turned out to be nearly half a mile away from our base – a bit too far, really, certainly for a gaggle of weary toddlers. As we were only going to be away for a week, we’d decided not to bring Sean and Amelie’s double buggy with us, preferring to travel light. … So there were many stops and negotiations about whose turn it was to be carried by whom.”

Their family beach trip was on Tuesday, 1 May 2007.

In the afternoon Gerry and I decided to take the children down to the beach. … We borrowed a double buggy from Mark Warner to make the walk easier for Sean and Amelie.”

Since Crimewatch didn’t think the double buggy was important, I have no reason to think that they would have checked on the make or model of the double buggy used by the McCanns in the UK.

The double buggy in Crimewatch appears to me to be a relatively lightweight one, though it is hard to tell. By comparison, the McCanns’ UK double buggy looks to be a substantial beast. Here it is in Oct 2007.

20071017-katemccann-double-buggy

Without any sort of buggy capacity, the walk from apartment 5A to and from the Millennium would indeed be a mighty effort. Simply carrying the twins is not the complete answer, due to traffic flow. While Baptista was open (8.30am to 8pm), Rua Dr Agostinho da Silva beside 5A is an important entry to and exit from the supermarket. Jenny Murat describes a near miss as she was returning from buying some bread close to the shop’s closing time.

The fact that Rua Direita is one way (west to east) also affects traffic flow on the major part of the route between apartment 5A and the Millennium. Traffic coming from Lagos on the M537 is forced to turn north at the entry junction to Luz, in order to avoid Rua Direita. Then a 90° curve at the Mirage puts this stream of traffic smack-dab on the McCann route along Rua do Ramalhete.  Here is the McCann journey.

5a-to-millennium

Nearly all of the traffic coming from Lagos gets shunted onto this road. That includes the Lagos to Burgau bus route. (The Burgau to Lagos route is able to travel along Rua Direita.)

From the time that the buses start or Baptista opens to the time that both shut down the route requires control over young children. Assuming Gerry carried one of the twins and Kate carried one of the others, it still required a hand free to make sure Madeleine stayed on the pavement.

According to Vitor dos Santos, the Head of Accommodation at the Ocean Club, who booked-in the Tapas 9 –

For dinner the guests could choose between two options, the Tapas and the Millennium and although the meals are identical, the clients choose the restaurant according to its proximity to their accommodation.

In this case in concrete, the rational choice for dinner would be the Tapas restaurant as it is 100 metres distance from the apartment, whilst the Millennium is situated 600 metres away.”

The diagram above measures the distance from 5A to the Millennium. Senhor dos Santos makes it 600 metres. I make it 650m, which is just above what Senhor dos Santos thinks and a little below what Kate says.

I don’t think a small difference is significant. With or without a buggy, apartment 5A to the Millennium is not a pleasant route nor is it an easy trek. I have been informed by a reliable source that the other 3 families in the T9 group brought buggies. I don’t know what they all did for breakfast. But in the evening they preferred the Tapas restaurant over the Millennium.

And so Madeleine, and all the other children of the T9, would be spending their evenings in block 5 whilst the parents dined nearby.

Madeleine v the GNR on 3 May 2007

There was an awful lot happening on 3 May 2007 in Portugal that appears to have little relevance to Madeleine’s disappearance, though the reality is otherwise. This post examines a single one of them – the ability of the GNR to put boots on ground in Luz that evening. More accurately, how many patrol cars could the GNR deploy from Lagos at the time Madeleine went missing?

The PJ Files show that at the time the Ocean Club called the GNR in Lagos, 10.41pm, a GNR response unit was in Odiáxere, covering a reported theft, presumably a break-in. This seemingly delayed the patrol unit from hot-footing it to Luz while they handled the Odiáxere incident. I have no information to offer on the wording of the call from the Ocean Club to the GNR station in Lagos, nor the wording of the radio call from the GNR station in Lagos to the patrol car in Odiáxere. So I cannot evaluate the seriousness or even precise timing of that radio call. I certainly don’t know whether the message was ‘missing child’ or ‘abducted child’.

One of the key things that happened in Portugal on 3 May 2007, and I believe it to be pure coincidence, was that it was the 96th anniversary of the founding of the GNR. In Portugal, the PSP are the first responders to an incident in a town (such as Lagos) or a city. The more rural areas, such as Luz, are covered by the GNR, even though the local GNR station was in the town of Lagos.

Odiáxere is considered rural, so the incident there was responded to by the GNR of Lagos. Luz is considered rural, so Madeleine’s disappearance was first responded to by a unit of the GNR from Lagos.

However on this day of 3 May 2007 the GNR had been out in force to commemorate the 96th anniversary of their founding. Here is a photo from the procession in Lisbon. The GNR do not police Lisbon, and you can see from the dress uniform this was not a normal day at work.

gnr-95th-anniv-lisbon-3rd-may-2007

While the march-past is impressive, I much prefer this second photo, because there is a relevant tale behind it. The dog honoured that day was Margarida. She was about 10 years old and on 3 May 2007 she was awarded a special medal for its efforts in the police dog unit of Queluz. Margarida was a Labrador, the breed used by the GNR to search for drugs and missing people, while Alsations were normally used as patrol dogs. She was too old to work and had developed cataracts in her eyes.

gnr-anniversary-lisbon

Dogs from the Queluz unit would be deployed on the Madeleine case on 4 May 2007.

I have no reason whatsoever to presume the Lisbon celebration involved GNR officers from the Algarve. It almost certainly involved the GNR dog unit from Queluz in Lisbon.

This Dec 2007 report (in Portuguese) covers the use of dogs in particular, and the set-up of the GNR’s Escola Prática, where GNR training is carried out.

http://www.tvi24.iol.pt/sociedade/video/gnr-aposta-em-caes-de-identificacao

gnr-queluz-2010

Three handlers and 4 dogs from Queluz arrived in Luz around 8am on 4 May and immediately began searching for Madeleine. These search and rescue dogs were considered to be more appropriate for the task than dogs already deployed from Portimão, which were considered to be patrol dogs.

As 3 May 2007 was the 9th anniversary of the GNR, it was also celebrated on the Algarve. Eloise Walton of the Portugal Resident reported on the GNR event in Albufeira at http://portugalresident.com/gnr-celebrates-96th-anniversary The event lasted from 9.30am to 6pm. This appears to have been the first time the anniversary was celebrated on the Algarve, and it seemed to feature mainly GNR officers stationed in Albufeira. I have no information that officers from the GNR in Lagos participated. However, the Portugal Resident report says two dog teams, one from Albufeira and one from Portimão, delighted the crowds.

The only photo I can find of the Albufeira GNR event is the extremely poor quality one in the Portugal Resident link.

It seems that a single GNR car was responding on the evening of 3 May 2007. I cannot tell if this was normal practice. I cannot tell if the message transmitted to the GNR at Lagos was sufficiently urgent about Madeleine’s disappearance. And I cannot tell if the 96th anniversary of the GNR affected the subsequent response.