Madeleine – Luz Tour #6

Luz Tour #6 took place on 1st May and 2nd May 2017, just before the 10th anniversary. It was with a UK press member, Michael Havis. I was somewhat apprehensive, given that I had already been flame-grilled by a UK tabloid that had never spoken to me in any way, shape, or form. Things went better this time round, and I consider I received a much more balanced evaluation.

We met up at a hotel in the west of Luz, had a chat for a few minutes, then headed into Luz on foot.

Our first stop was at Rua das Flores. I wanted to show why it made sense for the McCanns to haul rubbish out of their rental villa by car, hence the stinky boot story. The bins are at the entrance/exit to the urbanisation, not easy to get to on foot, but chuck a plastic bag full of rubbish in the boot and everything makes perfect sense. Including a stinky boot.

Off we headed down Rua 25 de Abril to look at the place where Operation Grange dug up the mound. Visitors seem surprised by the size of it. The key details pass them by. It is an integral part of the Luz one-way system. There were two nearby restaurants which opened in 2007, though whether they managed it by May 2007, I don’t know.

Critical point #1 is the statement of Kirsty Louise Maryan. She was up a hill in Luz with two other nannies in the early hours of 4 May 2007 when they encountered Barrington Godfrey Norton, who was sleeping rough in a Ford Escort van. The only place I know of in Luz up a hill where people park camper vans overnight is this mound. I don’t have confirmation from any of the 4 people involved in this encounter that it happened on the mound. It is simply the only place that fits.

We walked through much of central Luz and arrived at the Ocean Club. I was becoming very tired. I took Mr Havis part of the way along the short route between the Tapas reception area and the Ocean Club night crèche. Along the way we saw that the adults-only swimming pool had no water in it. The next day we would find that the indoor pool was also empty of water. Basically, the Ocean Club is dead.

Near the adults-only pool, the short route goes up half a dozen steps, then it goes down a large number on the other side, and I didn’t want to do that, so we parted and Mr Havis continued exploring on his own. It seems he ended up on the sea front for a meal.

He liked the café enough that we met up there at lunchtime the next day, and it was packed. The visitors included large Portuguese groups, presumably down from Lisbon, extending the Labour Day holiday.

On the sea-front promenade on the way to the café, I had been accosted by a charity collector. This brings my encounters with charity collectors in Luz to 6. 4 of these have been calls to my residence, and each of these I would consider suspect. The other 2 have been in busy public areas of Luz, and both of these I consider genuine. Mr Havis was relieved to hear I considered the promenade charity collector to be genuine, as he had made a donation on his journey to the café.

I explained the story about the alleged tunnels and O Pouço to Mr Havis, so he asked if we could have a look, and we did. Then it was back to the front for the renovated Paraíso, where the Tapas 7 went on 3 May 2007, the market stalls where Gerry bought sunglasses on the McCanns trip to the beach, and up Rua Praia da Luz.

This street has at least two components in the Madeleine story.

John Ballinger apparently lives on this street. I knew that previously, but what I didn’t know before was that he appeared on the Sky 10th anniversary special. He explained to roadworks that were open on the night of 3 May, and from his photos, he appears to be the source for a picture in the press. Mr Ballinger said he had reported the roadworks to the police, which implies at that time he was of the opinion it was a missing child who woke and wandered, rather than an abduction.

The other feature on Rua Praia da Luz is the Duke of Holland restaurant/bar. It was taken over and has since closed down, but in 2007 it was run by June and Paul Wright. When the news was made public on 3 May, one of the pair immediately joined the search for Madeleine, while the other closed the Duke later, then got involved in the search. After this they were checked re whether Robert Murat was around apartment 5A that evening, as they knew Mr Murat and could recognise him. Despite returning to the vicinity of 5A several times during searches, Mr Murat had not been seen.

At the top of the beach road we turned left on Rua Direita and headed SW. This also has a number of items of interest on it.

First, the roadworks in the files were being done on this street.

Then there is the Luz Sporting Club. This is one of two places in Luz I suspect Sr Euclides Monteiro may well have been on that evening. His widow has said he was at home in Portelas (about 15 minutes drive from Luz) on 3 May 2007, composing a poem on his computer. I suspect he was in Luz, with friends, watching the big game. There were lots of places in Luz to watch the football that night, but only two where the predominant language was likely to be Portuguese and where the predominant culture was likely to be Portuguese. So Mr Havers took a photo of the club for his stock.

The we went to the Ocean Club reception. Things have changed somewhat with Madeleine’s kids club no longer there, and the indoor swimming pool in disuse.

I didn’t fancy the large flight of steps on the short route used by the McCanns, so we opted for a slightly longer route that is set up for wheelchair users, hence there are no stairs. This is probably the way the nannies moved the children from the kids club to the Tapas zone because it avoids a steep flight of stairs and it is ideally suited to Sammy Snake, the preferred way of getting the kids to walk together.

As it so happens, this goes between Fiji Palms block and Casa Liliana. Fiji Palms was the location of the Carpenter family. Casa Liliana was the home of Robert Murat and his mother Jenny. This is the approximate point at which Stephen Carpenter and Robert Murat met on the morning of 4 May, when Mr Murat learned what was going on, and he went to block 5 to offer his services as an interpreter.

We then headed to the Tapas reception, using the same semi-circular route taken by the Carpenters when they left the Tapas zone on 3 May.

Mr Havis was being pressed by his editor to file at least one story by his editor while he was still in Luz, so he wanted a photo to go with it. This is the one he picked.

After 2 days of Luz Tour #6, I was very tired physically. Mr Havis was going to head back to his hotel, apparently to converse with a colleague. I had just enough gas in the tank to walk home. We did not discuss what either of us would be doing on the 10th anniversary.

I have no idea how Mr Havis spent most of his day on 3 May 2017. I decided that I only had the capacity left for a stab at one trip into Luz, so I picked the 10th anniversary ceremony at St Vincent.

There I bumped into a contact from AFP from Luz Tour #5. He was back down after another 3 hour trip from Lisbon, so he has more stamina than I have.

As it happens, I took the extremely grainy photo of Mr Havis with Reverend Haynes Hubbard that appeared in the UK press.

And yes, I missed the chance to introduce myself to Mr Martin Brunt of Sky TV. He, and the Sky team, looked like they were working their socks off.

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Madeleine – short route from the crèche pt2

It has been pointed out to me that Kate McCann may have been using an alternative to this route, one that cuts through the Palm buildings to the north of the Ocean Club 24hr reception. I will need to do a bit of work on checking out the source, and then assessing whether it is a better route for nannies taking several children to High Tea.

Until then, let me continue with this route, which applies to Steve and Carolyn Carpenter on the evening of 3 May 2007.

Photo 14. The building on the left is Fuji Palms. The building to the right is Block 1. Straight ahead is the large grassy area with a palm tree in the middle. Now if I turn right, you can see that we are at …

Short route 14

Photo 15. … the south end of the road that runs between Block 1 (to the left) and Casa Liliana (to the right). The worst thing about this photo is it makes the road look like as wide as a highway, when it is not.

Short route 15

Photo 16. Continuing on, this is the large grassy area south of Block 1 where the kids probably played Olympic sports. It is also the route described by Stephen Carpenter as the one the family used to get home on 3 May 2007 (only going the opposite way).

Short route 16

 

Photo 17. This is a particularly poor photo of the rear of Block 1, but I don’t have anything better. Stephen Carpenter describes the semi-circular route on the way back to his apartment, and this is it.

Short route 17

Photo 18. Again pretty poor. Just moving on round south of Block 1.

Short route 18

Photo 19. This is nearly at the west end of Block 1 and it is time to jink between buildings.

Short route 19

Photo 20. Looking north at the gap between Block 1 on the right and Block 6 on the left. You can use this to get to the front of Block1 and Block 6 and out onto Rua Dr Agostinho da Silva, but I want the path to the south of Block 6, which you can just see on the left. These steps are the only steps on this route, and there is a light on the right.

Short route 20

Photo 21. Looking west along the path running along the south end of Block 6 to the street light in the car park. Apartment 606, where the Berry and Balu parties ate dinner together on the balcony on 3 May 2007, is the one sticking out at the top right.

Short route 21

Photo 22. This is a clearer view of the balcony of apartment 606. If you look at the other end of Block 6, it juts out to obscure most or all of the events occurring until searching started on 3 May 2007.

Short route 22

Photo 23. The view across the Tapas area to the car park.

Short route 23

Photo 24. From the path in the car park across to what the local reception looks like today.

Short route 24

At some point I need to go into Luz again and check whether you can see the balcony of apartment 606 from the entrance to the Tapas area, which will give me an idea of the potential field of vision of Neil Berry and Rajinder Balu.

I’m off on an adventure with a visitor this evening to see if we can bag a journalist or two, then it is probably going to be a look at the Smith sighting. But I hope to be around block 5 tomorrow to see what the media are up to on the 9th anniversary, so I should be able to check what can be seen from the balcony of apartment 606 at that time. The only issue I can foresee is that the forecast is very hot and sunny, which is not my idea of being good for trekking around Luz.

Madeleine – short route from the crèche pt1

This is what I believe to be the short route from the Mini Club/crèche to the Tapas area and apartment 5A. This goes up the east side of the Ocean Club. It is relatively flat (no stairs). It is ideally suited to using Sammy Snake from the crèche area to High Tea.

There is an alternative short route on the west side of the Ocean Club 24hr reception. That however is quite narrow and it would be very difficult to use Sammy Snake. There are also two short but quite steep parts that would be an obstacle for small children.

The short route taken by the McCanns could be either of these alternatives. Taking one child along either route is no big deal. That is much easier than a gaggle of children hanging on to Sammy Snake.

As far as I can tell, there is nothing in the PJ Files to nail whether the children were walked to High Tea using Sammy Snake or not. Perhaps nannies simply ushered the children without this device.

This particular route features in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann at several different places in the PJ Files and Kate’s book “Madeleine”. For example, it may well have been the route taken by Gerry McCann on the night of 3 May to see if Madeleine had made it to the Mini Club location. So keep an eagle eye out for lights on this route, to get some idea of what it looks like when darkness has fallen.

This short route needs a lot of photos to give you a decent idea of what it looks like. The time and effort in snapping the originals, editing them, and posting them is considerable. And for readers, it is a slow way of picking up information. And basically, those are the reasons why I want to swap to video.

My particular interest in this route is with reference to a pre-planned abduction. For this idea to fly, there has to be a trigger, an incident that sets the planning in motion.

Madeleine was walked through Luz, almost certainly on Sammy Snake with several other children of similar age, on something like 3 occasions. One of those could be the trigger, but that seems unlikely.

One obstacle is that on each of these trips, Madeleine went back to the Mini Club. That means a perpetrator had to follow her first back to the Mini Club, then hang around to see where she went from there, either to apartment 5A at lunchtime, or to High Tea + playtime then apartment 5A. This is a bit of a chain of requirements.

Another obstacle is the time the Luz excursions then leaves the perpetrator to plan an abduction. It is not a lot.

An alternative is that someone on or overlooking the short route saw Madeleine being escorted to High Tea with other children. This is a shorter chain, and opens the possibility of planning starting after the very first High Tea of Sunday, 29th April 2007.

All photos below were taken on 30 April 2016.

Here is the start of the short route, I think. The photo is beside what was the crèche/Mini Club. It appears now to be used as office space, most of it actually unused. The puzzle is where the entrance is. The only potential door is the one in the first photo, and that looks suspiciously like a store room. However, I cannot see that a crèche on the first floor would not have a door on the first floor, for safety reasons. This photo matches where the PJ Files show the trip to the beach began, so that door must be the one.

Short route 01

Photo 2. Swivelling right to face north, you can see the basic layout of the block. There is an apartment at the bottom, and a circular staircase to get to the level above. This whole area is split into different types of Palms e.g. Africa Palms, Coconut Palms etc.

Short route 02

Photo 3. This is all flat, so easy for the kids. There is a level below this terrace. We are not on the ground floor. So far, I have yet to spot a light, so I assume light at night time must have been what came through the crèche windows.

Short route 03

Photo 4. At the end of the terrace, it changes to cobbles, and we are now on the ground floor without actually going down anything. The glass structure ahead is the indoor swimming pool. On the right, there are 3 alternative paths leading to the car park, so although it is a car park, there should be safe options for the kids.

Short route 04

Photo 5. I am going to take the first path. It has no steps, so it is easy for small children. I haven’t noticed any lights yet. My route is going to be up across the car park to those 2 grey strips in the top left.

Short route 05

Photo 6. The view across the car park to the 2 grey strips shows the incline quite clearly. That initial climb is the toughest thing the children would face on the journey, but it is a decent surface.

Short route 06

Photo 7. The two grey strips are separated by a small, grass centre strip. I believe this is actually a wheelchair route permitting access north and south. However, it is ideal for Sammy Snake. A nanny leads the way pulling Sammy by a handle on the snake’s head. Down each side of the snake are more rings, and the kids hold on to those. That places each side neatly onto the grey strips.

Short route 07

Photo 8. The path continues north to a neatly trimmed bush. That funny platform on the right appears to be a resting place for wheelchair users. It seems to have a bulkhead light above, the first light I have noticed so far.

Short route 08

Photo 9. The path swings left to head west. There is another small light on the top of the wall.

Short route 09

Photo 10. The light on the right is the same one as in the last photo. The surface has changed to cobbles, but at least it is flat. The building on the left is Fiji Palms. To the right is the plot for Casa Liliana.

Short route 10

Photo 11. We are now at the west end of this path. In front is a little square. It is the southern end of the road running down the west side of Casa Liliana. This is where the laundry van in the PJ files would have been parked, because it is the closest vehicular access to Fiji Palms. There is another light here. Somewhere around here would be where Stephen Carpenter talked to Robert Murat over the fence at Casa Liliana. The block you can see near the centre is the east end of block 1.

Short route 11

Photo 12. Swivelling left at the same location, you can see how Fiji Palms is laid out, with a ground floor entrance to one apartment, and stairs up to the one above.

Short route 12

Photo 13. The tiles on the wall show we are at Fiji Palms apartments 1-12. Stephen and Carolyn Carpenter were in FP02. I did not check details of the numbering on the block, so I don’t know which end FP02 is at nor whether it is ground floor or upstairs. However, in addition to being on the likely short route, we are now on the route used by the Carpenters on 3 May, to get from the Tapas restaurant to their apartment.

Short route 13

If you have stuck with it through this lot, you will see just how laborious it is. A journey taking less than 3 minutes has taken ages to describe, and ages to read.

We are now half way between the crèche and the Tapas area. I will post the rest tomorrow before the fun and games kick off here in advance of the 9th anniversary.