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 v The Telegraph Ep. 2

The Telegraph story has evolved. It now asks if ‘the police’ are closer to knowing the truth when once it simply asked if ‘we’ are closer to knowing the truth.

Here is the full text of the Telegraph article as published in April 2016 and retrieved today, 21 Jan 2017.

Madeleine McCann latest: are police any closer to knowing the truth?

By Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter

29 April 2016 • 9:41am

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.

Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann quickly came under suspicion by Portuguese police, a development that the couple are certain meant vital clues were missed in the first hours and days after Madeleine’s disappearance.

Every possible theory has been explored since then: that Madeleine was abducted by a paedophile; that she was killed during a bungled burglary and her body dumped; that she was abducted by traffickers and sold to a childless couple; that she wandered out of the apartment and died in a tragic accident, and many more besides.

To date, however, not one shred of proof of what happened to Madeleine has been unearthed. The question of what happened to Madeleine would become not only a personal tragedy for the McCann family, but a national obsession in the UK and in Portugal.

Madeleine, of Rothley, Leicestershire, was on the penultimate day of her family holiday on the day she vanished. She had spent part of the day playing by the swimming pool in the Ocean Club resort, where the last known picture of her was taken at 2.29pm.

Reports of when she was last seen alive by independent witnesses vary, but she was still alive at around 6pm, when she and her parents went into their apartment at 5A Rua Dr Agostinho da Silva, where Madeleine and her two-year-old twin brother and sister were readied for bed.

The McCanns told police they put the children to bed at around 7pm, and that all three were asleep by 8.30pm, when they went for dinner at a tapas bar 50 yards across the pool from their apartment. There they met seven friends with whom they were on holiday.

The McCanns say checks were made on their children every half-hour, sometimes by other members of the party, comprising Dr Russell O’Brien and Jane Tanner, from Exeter, Dr Matthew and Rachael Oldfield, from London, and David and Fiona Payne, from Leicester, together with Mrs Payne’s mother Dianne Webster. Mrs Webster, however, reportedly told police that each couple was responsible for checking their own children.

Gerry McCann went to the apartment at 9.05pm, when all the children were sleeping soundly and Madeleine was still in her bed, he says.

The police in Portugal, however, have never accepted the McCanns’ evidence as undisputed. They initially regarded the McCanns as suspects, and believed the McCanns could have killed Madeleine any time after the last independent sighting of her at 6pm.

A timeline of that evening shows that Dr Matthew Oldfield went into apartment 5A at 9.30pm, and noticed that Madeleine’s room seemed lighter than the others, as if the shutters had been partially opened. He could not be certain whether Madeleine was there.

Kate McCann was next to check on the children, at 10pm. She ran back to the restaurant moments later, saying Madeleine was missing. The McCanns and their friends made a quick search of the resort, but after finding no sign of Madeleine the police were called at 10.14pm.

The McCanns told police they had put Madeleine to bed with her pink comfort blanket and favourite soft toy, Cuddle Cat, and was wearing short-sleeved Marks & Spencer Eeyore pyjamas.

Crucially, however, the apartment was not initially treated as a crime scene, meaning around 20 people went in and out before it was sealed off, contaminating potential evidence. Roadblocks were not put in place until 10am the next day, border guards were not informed for hours and Interpol did not put out a global missing persons alert for five days.

It meant that the most crucial time of any missing persons investigation – the first 24 hours – was largely squandered, and police have been trying to catch up ever since. Yet potentially key sightings and artists’ impressions of suspects were kept from the public for years.

Mary and Martin Smith, from Ireland, told police they saw a man carrying a child matching Madeleine’s description at around 10pm on Rua da Escola Primaria, 500 yards from the McCanns’ apartment. He was heading towards the beach, did not look like a tourist and did not seem comfortable carrying the child, they said.

Their evidence was compelling, but it was only in October 2013 that two e-fit images of the man, compiled by police from descriptions given by Mr and Mrs Smith, were released by Scotland Yard to coincide with a BBC Crimewatch reconstruction of Madeleine’s disappearance. He remains a suspect.

There were also blind alleys. Jane Tanner, one of the tapas diners, told police that when she left the restaurant at 9.15pm to check on her own daughter, she saw a man carrying a small child, wearing pink pyjamas, in his arms.

For years afterwards, the mystery man would be a key suspect, if not the prime suspect, but in October 2013 the Metropolitan Police announced that a British holidaymaker who had been taking his daughter back to his apartment after picking her up from an evening crèche, had been identified as the man Miss Tanner had seen and ruled out of the inquiry.

The first person to become an “arguido”, or official suspect, was Robert Murat, a local property consultant, whose home was searched 12 days after the disappearance. He was formally cleared of suspicion in 2008 and won £600,000 in libel damages from 11 British newspapers.

The Portuguese Police, however, were suspicious of the McCanns from the beginning, partly due to a clash of cultures. They could not believe that parents would leave their children unattended, and did not approve of the McCanns’ use of the media to raise the profile of the case, in a country where secrecy is the hallmark of all police investigations.

The arrival of two British sniffer dogs in Portugal in July 2007 only hardened that belief. One dog was trained to sniff out traces of human blood, the other was trained to sniff out the scent of dead bodies. Both dogs were taken to several locations connected to the investigation, and gave alerts only in apartment 5A. Later, the cadaver dog gave an alert inside a Renault car, hired by the McCanns 24 days after Madeleine went missing.

DNA tests on samples taken from the car proved inconclusive, but the Portuguese police wrongly told journalists they were a “100 per cent match” for Madeleine.

The Portuguese police came up with the theory that Madeleine had been killed by her parents by accident, possibly by being given an overdose of a sedative to make her sleep, that they had hidden the body, faked her abduction and then used the hire car weeks later to move her body to a burial location.

In early September 2007, according to Kate McCann, she was told by the Portuguese police that if she admitted that Madeleine had died in the apartment and she had hidden her body she might only serve a two-year sentence and Gerry McCann would not be charged at all. On September 7 the couple were both made arguidos.

Goncalo Amaral, the chief inspector who had been in charge of the case, resigned in 2008 to write a book alleging that Madeleine had died in an accident in the apartment and the McCanns had faked the abduction. The McCanns sued him for libel, and won: Amaral was ordered to pay them £394,000 in damages, but in April 2016 that decision was overturned by an appeal court.

In July 2008 the Portuguese attorney general announced that the McCanns were no longer suspects and the investigation was closed. The McCanns hired private investigators to carry on the search, but it was not until May 2011 that Theresa May, the Home Secretary, announced that Scotland Yard would review the evidence in the case, which had until then been the responsibility of Leicestershire Police, working with the Portuguese authorities.

In July 2013 Operation Grange, the review of the available evidence, became a full-blown criminal inquiry, and Scotland Yard said it was concentrating on a “criminal act by a stranger”.

The Yard announced it was looking into possible links between Madeleine’s disappearance and bogus charity collectors who were knocking on doors in Praia da Luz at the time. Between 3.30pm and 5.30pm on the day in question there were four separate sightings of men who said they were collecting money for an orphanage. British detectives believe men whose photofits they released in 2013 may have been engaged in reconnaissance for a pre-planned abduction or for burglaries, in keeping with the theory that Madeleine may have been killed by a burglar she disturbed.


E-fits of men seen acting suspiciously near the apartment on the night Madeleine went missing

Scotland Yard also said in 2013 it was eager to trace a blond-haired man who had been seen loitering in the area on April 30 and May 2, looking at apartment 1A. He was described as “ugly” with a spotty complexion and a large nose. Two blond-haired men were seen on the balcony of the empty apartment 5C, two doors from 5A, at 2.30pm on the day of the disappearance. Blond men were seen again near 5A at 4pm and 6pm that day, and at 11pm that night. Following the appeal on Crimewatch, the Portuguese police re-opened their own investigation.

Scotland Yard officers travelled to Portugal in 2014 to interview four suspects and carried out searches of the area around the apartment using ground-penetrating radar. One of the men who was interviewed has since been eliminated from the inquiry, but the other three men remain arguidos.

The British officers questioned them on suspicion of being part of a burglary gang that panicked after killing Madeleine during a bungled break-in. They all protested their innocence and were released without charge.

Another suspect was Euclides Monteiro, a convicted burglar with a drug habit, who had been sacked from the Ocean Club in 2006. Mobile phone tracking showed he had been in the area on the night of the disappearance, and police believe he may have been burgling apartments there to fund his drug addiction. He died in a tractor accident in 2009.

In March 2014 Scotland Yard announced that a lone intruder sexually assaulted five girls aged between seven and 10 in the Algarve between 2004 and 2006. The man, who has never been caught, was said to have a “very, very unhealthy interest” in young white girls.

The four incidents, one of which involved two girls, were among 12 in which men had entered holiday accommodation in the area, including two incidents in Praia da Luz. The force also said it was looking at 38 “people of interest” and were researching the backgrounds of 530 known sex offenders, including 59 regarded as high interest.

In December 2014 Det Chief Insp Andy Redwood, the man who had led Operation Grange, retired and was replaced on Dec 22 by DCI Nicola Wall, who travelled to Portugal the same month to conduct further inquiries.

DCI Wall and her team interviewed seven suspects and four witnesses, but have not released any information about what they discovered, insisting they will not provide a “running commentary” on the case.

In September 2015 the Met announced that it was scaling back the Operation Grange investigation team from 29 officers to four. With the cost of the inquiry topping £10 million, the force said it was following “a small number of focused lines of inquiry”.

It added that the “vast majority” of the work of Operation Grange had been completed. In total officers had reviewed more than 40,000 documents, took 1,338 statements and collected 1,027 exhibits.

The Met said 60 “persons of interest” had been investigated, 650 sex offenders considered and 8,685 potential sightings investigated.

Then, in April 2016, came an announcement by the Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe that his officers had boiled down the evidence to “one final lead”.

Having failed to substantiate other theories, police are reportedly left with one of the original theories – that Madeleine was killed during a botched burglary.

The Met wants to re-interview three suspects who were placed at the scene through analysis of their mobile phones: Jose Carlos da Silva, 30, who used to drive guests to their apartments at the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz, Ricardo Rodrigues, 24, and Paulo Ribeiro, 53.

They have previously admitted petty theft from apartments at the complex but denied any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance.

Kate and Gerry McCann remain convinced their daughter is alive and that they will one day be reunited. The hunt to find her continues.

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 – Ricardo Rodrigues

Ricardo Rodrigues is the third of 4 people made arguidos in July 2014, so what do we know about him?

Before we start on this topic, searching for Ricardo Rodrigues in Portugal is about as productive as searching for John Smith in England. Therefore, we are heavily reliant on media reports, which is not a good start.

Ricardo Rodrigues was not interviewed as part of the original PJ investigation. He was 16 at the time of the Madeleine incident and did not work for the Ocean Club.

Ricardo Rodrigues allegedly received 3 phone calls and 1 text from another arguido, José da Silva, on the evening of 3rd May 2007. There was also, allegedly a call be between Ricardo and a fourth arguido, on 2 May 2007.

One of these can be proved. Heriberto Janosch dug into the PJ Files and established that a call was made from José da Silva to Ricardo Rodrigues. This happened at 21:51 on 3 May, and lasted a little under a minute.

The other 3 contacts were earlier in the evening, and at the moment the evidence for these is merely the media. Given that the media speculation was frenzied, sometimes alleging large numbers of contacts before Madeleine disappeared and sometimes alleging numerous contacts after Madeleine disappeared, we are now into dangerous waters. A further 2 calls and 1 text in the evening of 3 May do not fit my understanding of ‘numerous’.

If this was a burglary developing, then the direction of communication, from José to Ricardo fits one possible scenario well. José was a look-out and Ricardo was the burglar.

This fits with the age profiles, with José around 30 at the time and Ricardo 16.

It does not fit with Ricardo being some sort of controller or look-out, while José tried to carry out the burglary.

The actual call pattern is a weak match for Tapas 9 movements, and don’t fit with a burglary. Does a look-out phone or text a burglar whilst the burglar is actively attempting to enter a property and steal?

Apart from a potential burglary connection, the media linked Ricardo Rodrigues to a potential charity collector sighting. The implication is that this was a scam, but as far as a burglary is concerned it matters not a jot.

The question that arises is – would a person planning a burglary turn up a day or two earlier on the doorstep, with the intention of sizing up the scene? This is both a good way to get noticed and a poor way to assess the security of the target.

There was a charity collector reported at the rear of 5A. However, he was working alone, he does not fit Ricardo, and if apartment 5A was burgled, it is more likely that the children’s bedroom window was used.

This leaves me with a third arguido where I am struggling to find what was sufficient to make him an arguido.

Perhaps he had a criminal record. It is possible, but I have no evidence to support that allegation.

The media described him as either a beggar or a charity collector when he was 16, but at age 23 seems to prefer the term unemployed.

That is not a lot to go on, and trying to find Ricardo Rodrigues is difficult, so is there anything to add to this?

One small insight may be relevant. Ricardo apparently was the owner of a particular make, model and colour of car. One Ricardo Rodrigues turns up in an adventure on 8 Sep 2010 at the Autódromo International do Algarve, a racing circuit to the north east of Luz.

Autódromo Algarve

A group of friends from the area had taken their cars to the track. It appears that you could race your own street cars on the circuit, for a charge of €5 per car for two laps. The group had some fun then decided to halt, all but two cars. The drivers, one of them Ricardo Rodrigues, decided to race a further two laps.

They were racing round one of the turns when Ricardo lost control, hitting the other car, so halting the race. The damage was around €600 per car.

Ricardo was supposedly 16 at the time of Madeleine incident. That would make him around 19 at the time of the Autódromo crash. In Portugal, you need to be 19 to sit your driving test, so Ricardo does not seem to have been an experienced driver.

More importantly, in he was described by the media as being either a beggar or a charity collector in 2007. He was described by the media as being unemployed in 2014.

He appears to have had the means to purchase a fairly sporty hatchback that was not old by Portuguese standards. As to whether that source of income was by his own methods or whether it was provided by someone else, I don’t know.

Again, the reason for making Ricardo an arguido is unknown. If he had a criminal record then it might be understandable. If he was identified via Crimewatch, then again it might be reasonable. However, the Crimewatch route again suffers from the fact it was not shown in Portugal. It suffers from another major problem. Although the files have a couple of statements that might be, at a stretch, Ricardo out doing charity collections with another older collector, it appears that no e-fit of the younger collector was produced.

This leaves a more tenuous connection to an older collector i.e. that the older collector was named via Crimewatch, and Ricardo Rodrigues was linked by the final ‘dodgy’ phone communication, namely a call between them on 2nd May 2007.

This is very unappetising fodder indeed.

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 ( 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, 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?