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.

Madeleine – 10th – the congregation emerges

The times on my camera are about 8 minutes ahead of the church clock. This the scene around 9.40pm, with the media now waiting for the congregation to emerge from St Vincent.

There are still late night passers-by heading south, perhaps to one of the restaurants or perhaps just going for a stroll on a pleasant evening.

I got intercepted by one gentleman from Sweden who was curious about the activity. And a German couple who said they were in Luz on the night Madeleine disappeared. Because I don’t look like media, people are generally happy to chat to me for a few minutes. The flavour was along the lines of why so much was being done for one child when there are many other missing children.

If you look at the lighting, you can see more sources than there are at the Jane Tanner sighting. However, Jane’s man-carrying-child was very close to a (sodium) street light. The street lights here are sodium, backed by fluorescent light from two shop fronts, the media cameras and a near-full moon. On 3 May 2007, the near-full moon had not risen, but on 3 May 2017 it was well up in a clear sky.

Make your own judgement about which colours can be picked out and which colours can’t.

The shop in the background with a green stripe over the window and a large plus sign on its front wall is a chemist. Back in 2007, it was an Ali Super convenience store. There is footage of that store in the background as the McCanns arrived at the church to attend an evening mass. The store remained open until 10.30pm.

If the Crimewatch special of Oct 2013 is to be believed, the man seen by the Smiths around 10pm headed in this direction i.e. roughly in the direction of the church.

If the Panorama special of May 2017 is to be believed, the dig in central Luz by Operation Grange in June 2014 relates to 3 men considered as possible burglars. These 3 men were 3 of the 4 made arguidos in July 2014, but all 4 have been informed they are no longer persons of interest.

Neither Crimewatch nor Panorama seems to have twigged the importance of Aoife Smith’s testimony.

It would be an interesting Freedom Of Information request to find out precisely how much the Operation Grange digs in Luz cost.

The church clock is showing 9.40pm, and the congregation has started to emerge, complete with candles inside little glass bowls. I was a little bit bemused as to why there was little attention being paid to these people. The best photo I have seen of them was taken by reporter Michael Havis, inside St Vincent. He told me the congregation numbered about 20 and they went near to east end altar, while the media, also around 20 in number, sat at the west end, near the door you see.

It dawned on me why the media was paying limited attention to the candle-light procession. They were queuing up for an interview with the Anglican minister, Reverend Haynes Hubbard. Presumably these had been agreed in advance i.e. that the minister would come out at the end of the service and talk to the media.

Madeleine – Luz Tour 4 results

Luz Tour #4 has now been completed, with very mixed results, due to the variable weather.

On the first day, my guest wanted to spend the time with a friend, at a market in a town several miles north of Luz. This was a wise choice as the weather turned out to be particularly good that day.

The following day the weather forecast was 92% chance of rain, and I pulled out of a Luz Tour on the basis that when it rains here, it is not gentle rain as per the UK. The norm is as close to a monsoon as Europe gets. As it turned out, the weather forecast was basically wrong, and it was a fine, bright day, only turning to rain after dusk.

On the next day, the forecast was again strongly predicting rain, but after the good weather of the day gone by, I decided to risk it. And of course, that was a mistake. It started to monsoon it down, and on a very short walk from my car to my guest’s accommodation in Burgau, I got completely drenched. I tried towelling some of the water off, but basically my clothes were still wet through.

As the storm was continuing, we decided to call off our planned trip to Lagos, and instead headed across the road in Burgau to the nearest café for a coffee and a pastel de nata (custard tart). And there we sat outside but sheltered, as the rain slowly lightened up.

We were talking for close on 3 hours, with less than an hour on the Madeleine McCann case and the rest on other topics. As per usual with interesting conversation, I lost track of what was happening to me until I reached the stage I was so cold I could not stop my teeth chattering. When I got home I put on dry clothes and a warm winter fleece, but it took over an hour and a hot meal before I reached something close to normal temperature.

The following day the weather improved, but my guest wanted to spend some time with a friend during the day, then meet up with acquaintances in Lagos in the evening.

That left the final day before my guest departed and we decided if it was to be a Luz Tour, then we would tour Luz.

We started off at the top end (the NW end) of Rua Vinte Cinco de Abril to check out a couple of reasons why the June 2014 Operation Grange dig of the mound made little sense. Then we strolled closer to the centre of Luz, to pass some of the STOP signs that had been graffitied in July 2014 to read STOP mccann circus. All of the signs we saw have now had the graffiti painted over, to simply read STOP.

My guest had not eaten breakfast and was feeling peckish. Luz has a wide choice of cafés and restaurants, but most are intended for tourists and charge tourist prices. I had a bit of a think as to where we could get something more typically Portuguese, and we headed to LuzTur, where the choice was Dom Doce at the entrance or Polly’s a little farther in. Polly’s was a little less exposed so we sat outside that and had a chat about the Madeleine McCann incident in pleasant sunshine.

LuzTur features in the case as it was where one of the 4 people made arguidos in July 2014 was living at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance in 2007. I have visited LuzTur on a previous tour, to see if it could be used as a control point in a planned exercise against apartment 5A. You can get a good view of the Tapas zone, the sole entrance to the zone, and the rear of block 5. However, the Tapas restaurant has a solid south wall which would block all observation of the Tapas 9 at their dinner table. You would only see parents checking once they had exited the Tapas restaurant, giving little time for communication and action. It is only my opinion, but there were much better places to observe the Tapas 9 and control any planned raid on apartment 5A, so I doubt LuzTur was used.

My guest and I headed out towards Baptista past the probable site of the missing manhole cover, then up to the Ocean Club to check out a couple of points to do with the statement of Neil Berry.

We headed back to the centre of Luz, which is when we saw the tuk tuk on its tour of Luz, near the church and the ice cream factory. As I said, I did not have a camera with me, but my guest got several photos of the tourist ensemble.

Time was now running out and my guest wanted to check on an idea suggested by a friend. So we headed past the Bull, Kelly’s and Fernando’s to get to just south of the Smith sighting. Assuming Smithman did not head to the beach but instead went down the steps Aoife Smith had just come up, we checked out the route west along Rua das Salgadeiras, then south down Travessa das Fontainhas to get to the rocks beside the sea where the fishermen keep their small boats.

On a bench in the small square on the front a young Portuguese woman was enjoying the pleasant weather and the tranquillity. Beside her, she had a double buggy with very young twin babies, who were taking advantage of the warmth and quiet to have a nap.

My guest and I headed to the boats. Most were keel up to keep out the rain. A couple had not bothered with this, and contained many gallons of water from the two rainy days earlier that week.

However, the thing that really surprised me was a security aspect. I had assumed the boats were secured by the simple device of removing the oars, and in most cases this was true. But at least two had the oars inside the boat, meaning anyone could use them.

Mark Harrison concluded that if Madeleine was dead, one method of body disposal was via the sea. I had never thought much of this, given the incoming tide that night and the need to get far out to sea, but now a viable transport mechanism was in front of us.

To use this method, a person would need to know the boats were kept there, have access to oars, and have the time to row out a considerable distance before returning.

The evidence of the Tapas 9 about what happened that night rules Gerry out as Smithman. Whilst this method might have been used by Smithman for body disposal, the operational characteristics further rule out Gerry.

It was now time to return to my guest’s base in Burgau, leaving ample time to prepare for the long, arduous journey home.

Luz Tour 4 was over.

Madeleine v the Mirror

The article in the Mirror dated 01 Oct 16, written by Alan Selby and Phil Cardy, neatly sums up what is going on in the Madeleine McCann case in UK media, and what is going wrong.

The headline screams it all. “Ghoulish Madeleine McCann tour takes tourists where missing tot stayed and cops dug for body”

From this headline, you can be safe in assuming that there is so little going on in the case that the media are scraping the bottom of the barrel for Madeleine-related stories.

Shall we now have a look at the article itself to see what is going wrong?

Tourists are being offered a ghoulish sightseeing tour of the town where Madeleine McCann was kidnapped.

The sick trips take visitors to the apartment where the missing three-year-old was last seen alive and the tapas restaurant where her parents were dining when she vanished.

The twisted organiser also takes his clients to nearby wasteland which police dug up in searches in Praia da Luz in Portugal’s Algarve.

The ghouls are then invited to speculate on the involvement of Madeleine’s doctor parents Kate and Gerry.”

The article has only just started, and already the errors are creeping in.

I have never been inside the Tapas area, so obviously I have never taken a visitor to the restaurant.

The ‘wasteland’ so beloved of the UK press is actually undeveloped land complete, I understand, with planning permission and so is extremely valuable. My first visitor went to this plot and found out why Operation Grange got it so wrong in digging it up. Selby and Cardy are obviously as ignorant now of the reasons for this as Operation Grange was at the time. It goes further than this as the Mirror duo clearly don’t know the true importance of the mound to the case.

Visitors can choose to discuss the involvement of Kate and Gerry, or not, as they wish. Just as they can choose to discuss, or not, the many other people involved in the case. That, by the way, includes the UK media, and how journalists like Selby and Cardy make money out of filling up column inches with another story about Madeleine McCann.

Back to the article. “Last night the couple were said to be distressed by the latest outrageous twist in the story.”

Notice the key phrase “were said to be” i.e. we are expected to take Selby and Cardy’s word for it. The crucial element here is simple. I have attempted to contact the McCanns on several occasions, with the aim of demonstrating to them just how much valuable information they are sitting on, presumably unaware that they have much of value that would advance the search for Madeleine McCann. This happens to include the Smith sighting, where I believe the McCanns are ideally placed to obtain information that I cannot. To date, I have not had a response from the McCanns or from a McCann representative, so if Selby and Cardy really did manage to get my blog onto the McCann radar, it is a step forward.

To the McCanns, or any of their representatives, I repeat an offer I have made previously. If you choose to engage in an information exchange with me, there is much significant progress to be made. This progress will NOT be made by Operation Grange (who lack an understanding of Luz), nor will it be made by a further team of private investigators, nor will it be made by UK or Portuguese media. I am happy to DEMONSTRATE examples of this to show what is being missed. I am further happy to give primacy to the McCanns in deciding how and when such newly discovered information should be deployed.

Once more, back to the article. “And the tours, dubbed the “Luz Challenge”, have triggered disgust among other Brits in Praia.

Yesterday one astonished expat who lives in the area said: “This is in appalling taste. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it.”

This roughly says it all. Selby and Cardy now claim to have a source in Luz, but said fellow has never heard of me or heard of tours which have been running since March. That tells you how good Selby and Cardy’s sources aren’t. By the way, if Selby or Cardy is still reading my blog, kindly stop calling the place Praia. Two journalists should know that praia simply means beach. The place is not called Praia, it is called Luz, Lagos. The Lagos tacked on the end is to locate this Luz in the district of Lagos, as opposed to Luz, Tavira, which is in the eastern end of the Algarve, in the region of Tavira. If you are going to be sloppy, at least make the same mistake that most journalists make and call it Praia da Luz (which is wrong, but generally accepted).

The gruesome tours are being offered on the internet by a British grandfather in his 60s who has become obsessed with the case since emigrating to Praia da Luz.

He says he lives in “Maddieville” and is offering his version of “Mission Impossible” to work out what happened to Madeleine.”

We did not emigrate to Praia da Luz. An early part of my blog makes it clear that within the family no-one had any interest in Madeleine McCann as none of us followed the story in 2007. Oddly, not a single one of us twigged the connection to Madeleine McCann, otherwise we would have probably gone elsewhere.

As to calling Luz “Maddieville”, when Operation Grange decided to fly over Luz in a helicopter in June 2014, followed by sealing off the centre and establishing a circus to entertain the media, then Maddieville became an appropriate term. Mr Selby and Mr Cardy, you are making money off the back of Madeleine McCann each time you write another sensationalist article about her. Do you consider yourselves to be serious investigative journalists? Or is it just that you don’t care?

The Mirror article continues “Our source said: “The guide is obsessed with Maddie. He’s written thousands of words about the case and pored over maps, photographs and police transcripts.

We don’t know why he is so hung up on it.””

If your source knows so much about me, why has your source only just become aware of the tours? Does your source exist? Why have we not met each other in Luz before now?

The tour takes in this block of flats, where Maddie was last seen”. This, Selby and Cardy, is a mistake I have seen before, so quite possibly this is a stock item used by the Mirror. The last time I saw this mistake I simply shrugged it off, so I cannot name and shame the two journalists responsible for that article. But I can name and shame Alan Selby and Phil Cardy for this one. It illustrates perfectly the lack of research you have put in and the fodder you have churned out. Madeleine was in block 5, in apartment 5A, as everyone knows. You have chosen to show a photo of block 6, describing it as “where Maddie was last seen.” As far as I know, Madeleine was never inside block 6.

If this IS simply an ongoing Mirror error, you two need to get off your backsides and get this part pulled, before some other duo repeats the mistake.

As a matter of interest, does either of you know what is significant about block 6 in relation to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann?

Then, in an offensive comment, the sicko says: “You have to come up with a way in which the McCanns, for whatever reason, disposed of Madeleine’s body, and the body was not found in searches.”

In a reference to the officer in charge of the original search, the tour guide says: “Gonçalo Amaral struggled, and in my opinion failed, to come up with an explanation.”

This is pathetically cheap journalism. Throw in the word “offensive” throw in the word “sicko” and what you have is sensationalist claptrap.

Are you aware of public opinion in Portugal? Because I am. I have therefore phrased this issue in a manner which makes it clear that a highly experienced police officer has failed to come up with a reasonable explanation. Therefore anyone who is anti-McCann, and based on my contacts within Portugal, that appears to be just about everyone, is asked not “do they think the McCanns did it” but rather “if they maintain the McCanns did it, precisely how did the McCanns do it.”

That is, of course, completely in contradiction to your implication that the tour aim is to work out how the McCanns did it.

Just as a point of clarification, I remember sitting in the Paraíso for lunch one day. It happened to be roughly where the Tapas 7 congregated following their beach outing on 3 May 2007. A table two down from us was occupied by two couples, obviously British tourists. One of the men said in a loud voice “well, all you have to do is look around to see how easy it would be to hide a body in this type of rough land”. It is a common misconception.

On with the words of Selby and Cardy. “The guide lists several places that his clients will be taken to. They start at Apartment 5A at the Ocean Club Hotel where the tot vanished.”

Oh dear. I don’t have clients, as no-one is paying a single cent for any tour. There isn’t an Ocean Club Hotel. The Ocean Club is a collection of apartments and villas, not a hotel. Do tours start at Apartment 5A? No, they start wherever my visitor wants them to start.

Tour 1 started at a hotel in the north of Luz. Have you Mirror chaps any idea of the relevance of City Sol or Quinta dos Figos? I doubt it very much.

Tour 2 started at a hotel much beloved of the media when they choose to descend on us en-mass. As it so happened, they were choosing to leave us alone that time, so the main activity was to sample some dinner selected from the hotel’s menu.

Tour 3 started at a large but decrepit villa on the eastern outskirts of Burgau. I wonder if you are aware the relevance of Burgau in the Madeleine case?

Tour 4 will start from a smallish, well kept Portuguese home in the centre of Burgau. It is possible there may a visit to one of the local hostelries.

From there they go a few hundred yards to the tapas restaurant where her parents were eating with friends – although the guide says a meal will not be possible as the place has closed. Then they visit the spot near the apartment where the McCanns’ friend Jane Tanner saw a mystery man carrying a child, though police later ruled out the sighting.”

The distance from the garden gate of 5A to the entrance of the Tapas area is important, because it factors into how long each parental check took. It is 20.5 metres, or about 23 yards, nothing like your few hundred yards.

You are aware that the man spotted by Tanner was walking across the junction of Rua Agostinho da Silva and Rua Martins? And that the junction is in front of apartment 5A? And that those using the car park of block 5 to do their parental checks passed this junction on the way there and on the way back? Why would a visitor to 5A not simply do the Tanner sighting as they went round this junction, on their way to the Tapas zone?

Unless you have kept up to date with the case, you will probably not be aware that a Freedom of Information request was answered by Scotland Yard in December 2015. Part of the response stated that Tannerman was still a person of interest to Operation Grange, so he had not been ruled out at that date.

Back to Selby and Cardy. “They will also take in the scene of the sighting by Martin Smith, a retired businessman, who said he saw a man carrying a child in the direction of the beach.” The tour does take in the Smith sighting, if the visitor wishes to do so. It happens to be an important sighting and much can be gained from examining the location in which it took place. You two, however, are showing your ignorance again. Martin Smith did not say the man headed to the beach. His statement says that he does not know where the man went after they passed. And if you check Aoife Smith’s statement, she never mentions the beach either. Judging by DCI Andy Redwood in the Crimewatch episode of Oct 2013, he was also labouring under this “to the beach” misapprehension.

Other places in the tour are the areas where police carried out searches two years ago.

The first is scrubland to the south-west of the McCann apartment, around the size of three football pitches and surrounded by villas and apartments. The two other sites are on the other side of Praia da Luz on either side of the road out of town.”

I repeat, all tours are customised to what the visitor wants the see. The area of land in the centre of Luz has been visited once, to point out some salient facts that Operation Grange missed, and it looks as if you are ignorant of these points. As to the two areas to the east of Luz, I have never visited those in my life, and no-one has requested these areas to be included in any tour.

Another ghoulish spot on the tour is the Our Lady of the Light church in the centre of Luz.” How many errors can you stuff into a single report? No one has ever requested to see Nossa Senhora da Luz, and I have never been inside the church in my life. I am, however, respectful of both the Catholic and the Anglican communities that share the the church, while it would appear that Selby and Cardy are willing to spread malicious gossip about this place of worship.

Police searched there and a nearby cemetery with rumours circulating that Madeleine was put into someone else’s coffin to be cremated.” Unless you have a cite from the PJ Files or another reputable source, this again is cheap sensationalism. I have never heard of a police search of Nossa Senhora da Luz. It certainly was NOT searched by Operation Grange. I have never heard of a search of Luz cemetery. But the question is, do you two ever read back what you write before you publish it? Why would anyone search a cemetery looking for a body that had been cremated? Do you understand the difference between burial and cremation?

From there the guide said he would start looking at all the red herrings and conspiracy theories which had sprung up around the case.

These include the rumour Madeleine could have been been hidden on the nearby beach or under rocks.”

I couldn’t possibly tackle all the idiotic theories or idiotic groups that surround the Madeleine McCann case. The beach one certainly dates back to June 2014, when the UK media announced that Operation Grange was to dig the beach. That dig never occurred.

He is clearly unaware or not bothered by the disgust his warped pastime is causing.

Several street signs have been sprayed with the message “Stop McCann Circus” in response to all the negative publicity the picturesque Algarve town receives.

Critics said the sightseeing tour is in appalling taste.”

The manner is which this is written implies I had something to do with graffiti that appeared in Luz. I had nothing whatsoever to do with it, so I resent the implication.

By the way, Luz isn’t picturesque, a word you would never use to describe the place if you had actually visited. And that point is pertinent, because the construction date and manner of the Ocean Club reflect upon the security systems in the complex and in apartment 5A, so please try to get it right.

Having got that out of the way, let’s tackle the disgust my “warped pastime” is causing. In your article, you have not identified a single person who has come forward to make such a comment, merely unnamed sources. Turning to the idea of warped concepts, who raised the notion that Madeleine went into someone else’s coffin and was cremated? That would be Alan Selby and Phil Cardy writing for the Mirror. Who is getting paid for writing this appalling tripe? That would be Alan Selby and Phil Cardy from the Mirror.

If you were serious journalists you would investigate the case properly, but instead you choose to regurgitate sensationalist material.

““I prefer to remain anonymous, in the background, a non-character in the case.

That means my musings are more likely to be judged on merit alone.

Hopefully, that in turn maximises the chance of working out what happened to Madeleine McCann.”

Anyone can read my blog and make up their own mind as to whether I am putting myself before Madeleine or whether Madeleine is the priority. Those who know me well will also know that I publish on one of the more popular forums devoted to finding out what happened to her. Between my blog and that forum, a considerable amount of progress has been made. That progress would increase if these findings were read by the McCanns, serious UK media reporters, and Operation Grange.

Explaining the twisted thinking that produced the tour, the man says: “My first thought was simple.

I just could not make a ghouls tour of Luz fly. Then the idea began to intrigue me.

How does one make a ghouls’ tour of Luz actually work?

The solution is cheap and cheerful. It comes out of the best penny dreadfuls in Victorian era. You do not bother about the truth. Or the facts. You simply go for the thrill value.”

He continues: “I suppose, at a push, with all the red herrings around, I could develop a ghouls’ tour with at least 20 points on the map.

There must be at least ten more red herrings in the Madeleine story, surely.

The difficulty is my brain is not into red herring stories and my heart is not into this line of action.

And you, Alan Selby and Phil Cardy, have produced the modern day equivalent of the Victorian penny dreadful by not bothering about the facts but simply going for sensationalist thrill value. Whereas the line I have bolded quite clearly shows that while a ghouls tour is possible, I do not do ghouls tours. For example, a ghouls tour would definitely incorporate a visit to Nossa Senhora da Luz to retell the Mirror nonsense about the cremated body, whereas the church has never featured in any tour and I have never been inside it.

While this deluded man amuses himself with his outrageous “game” the British investigation into the disappearance codenamed Operation Grange has cost at least £12million.”

This the the standard end to a Madeleine McCann story. Throw in the cost of Operation Grange. As it so happens, I have sent Operation Grange several pieces of intelligence regarding the case. I have no idea whether these were found useful or not.

In Portugal, Correio da Manha has run with an equivalent story to the Mirror’s, but in Portuguese. I shall be looking at that to see if it gives me an entry point to the Portuguese media.

In the UK media, Alan Selby and Phil Cardy have squandered an opportunity to advance the understanding of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, and instead have taken Mirror money to write a lurid story based on Madeleine’s disappearance. Congratulations guys, you are number two and number three on my list of journalists I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole.

Madeleine – Smithman challenge 3

Here are the key points so far.

There are two official campsites just outside Luz. To use these for an overnight stay, there is a charge.

There are two sites within Luz that motor homes use free of charge. The first is on the flat, baked earth road running from the west end of Rua da Calhete in the direction of Burgau, though it is a quiet, no-through road. The second is the mound, aka the snail, aka the small hill, which lies in the large parcel of undeveloped land searched by Operation Grange in the June 2014 Luz dig.

Here is the information we now have to put into the mix – the statement of Kirsty Louise Maryan.

She worked in childcare in the Ocean Club. She had worked there in July to October 2006, and had returned to work in the Ocean Club on 21 March 2007.

This adds up to around 4 months knowledge of Luz, perhaps a little less or a little more. Basically, Luz was not her home turf.

On 3rd May at around 22.30 she was with two colleagues, Leanne (Wagstaff) and Sarah (Williamson), when they were informed by Amy Tierney that a search for the missing Madeleine McCann was underway, and the trio joined in the effort.

According to Kirsty –

An individual of the male sex, in Praia da Luz, next to a café whose name she does not know, was playing a guitar until the day of the facts, now under investigation. On the night Maddie disappeared and while she was involved with a group searching, mentioned prior, they encountered a vehicle, whose make and model she does not know, of white colour, commercial, parked on top of a hill, where, she cannot identify. At this point, some of the group elements banged on the window of the vehicle and the back doors and saw the person who habitually played the guitar on the beach. He was covered with blankets, reading a book and drinking a beer, with the help of a flashlight. Questioned, they were not able to observe in detail the interior of the vehicle. She add that the individual was asked whether he had seen a minor of about four years of age and the same responded, jocularly, that on that night, no one knocked on the doors of his vehicle.”

Neither Leanne Wagstaff nor Sarah Williamson mentions this encounter. Although all 3 relate they were going out together that evening for a drink when they bumped into Amy Tierney, perhaps the ‘group elements’ does not include them.

This boils down to the busker from the beach was parked overnight in a white van on the top of a hill that Kirsty cannot identify. Add two places in Luz where motor owners sleep overnight, one of them flat on the seafront, the other on the mound, and you have …

There is the issue of why Kirsty was unaware of the location of this hill, given that it is close to the centre of Luz.

Kirsty’s experience of Luz was about 4 months in total. The whole of the Ocean Club is to the east of the mound, with no reason to visit the hill. Nearly all of the bars and the restaurants are also east of the mound. The only realistic reason for Kirsty to have visited the mound would be if she was in a place like Kelly’s or the Bull, was driven home, and the driver knew enough about the Luz 1-way system to use the road beside the mound to get to 2-way roads. Kirsty had very little chance of knowing where the hill was.

Of course, final confirmation that this encounter occurred on the top of the mound would have to be given by one of the 3 searchers – Kirsty, Leanne and Sarah – or by the man they encountered – Barrington Godfrey Norton.

Mr Norton was interviewed by the PJ, his van (a white Ford Escort) was searched and he was eliminated from enquiries.

The final issue to consider is why Operation Grange failed to make this connection. Just as Kirsty had insufficient local knowledge to identify the hill, so Operation Grange lacked sufficient local intelligence to identify Kirsty’s hill as the mound. And so the costly, long, hard slog of the June 2014 Luz dig ensued.

Perhaps the interesting thing is that the GNR had insufficient knowledge of Luz and the case to realise why the dig was doomed to failure. Ditto the PJ. Ditto any PIs past or future appointed by the McCanns.

The bit that intrigues me is what went into the ILOR requesting the dig. And why did anyone in Portugal approve this? Of course, that person probably know little about the case, next to nothing about Luz, and would not have been able to tie Kirsty’s hill to the mound. But what was the request by Operation Grange and why was it deemed sound enough to throw vast resources at it in a joint police effort?

Madeleine – Smithman challenge 2

The second part of Luz I want to show you is not on StreetView, but it is one that you know well from the Operation Grange Luz dig of June 2014. I think of it as the mound. I have read it called the snail. And I have heard it described simply as ‘the little hill’.

I happen to think the only reason connecting the mound to Smithman is proximity, but I have heard of an alternative explanation. Which view is correct is not important in the following tale.

The dig on the mound was the start of my real interest in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. I had read both Kate’s book ‘Madeleine’, and Gonçalo’s book ‘A Verdade da Mentira’. But I had read both as a pastime, without any real interest in the case.

Then OG started to dig up one of the least believable locations in Luz, and I started reading up in earnest.

First, let me take you on the photos that StreetView does not cover. Here is the mound, on foot. All photos were taken on 23 May 2016.

Photo 1 is taken from the north, within the large area of Luz dug up by OG in June 2014. From here the mound appears to be tiny, but later photos will clarify its height. I deliberately left all the undergrowth in the photo so you get a good idea of the challenge faced by OG. They had to decide on an area of interest first, then strim off all the vegetation in that area before they could begin the search proper.

01 23 May 16

You can see the equivalent of this on Google StreetView. I am now in the road that runs from Rua 25 de Abril in the north to Rua do Calhete in the south. That is the tarmac running across the bottom of the photo. The rough road running up the centre of the photo will lead to the top of the mound. And the mound still looks like it is not worthy of the term ‘hill’.

02 23 May 16

This is just a few metres further south on the rough road. Note the kerb-stones leading from the bottom left hand corner. Although this road looks like a small track, it is actually a 2 lane street that is overgrown with 10 years of vegetation. Note the two trees almost touching, because next stop is the other side of those.

03 23 May 16

This looks like more of the same, but at the top end of the road it starts to bend right, to curve up to the top of the mound.

04 23 May 16

As the road curves to the right, you get an idea of where we are by the view to black rock.

05 23 May 16

This is half way up the mound, located to the south of the hill, and facing west to the Urbanisação Paraíso.

06 23 May 16

On the road below, there is a motor home (parked close to a big pile of rubbish). I will return to this motor home shortly.

07 23 May 16

Facing west, this is the alternative route to get on and off the mound. The way to the top is on the right.

08 23 May 16

As you can see, the road to the top is now a fairly steep incline.

09 23 May 16

From close to the top, this is the view to the NE. On the horizon on the left, the V-shaped bob with a spike on top is the water tower. That is the location of the 3 masts of the Optimus tower. In apartment 5A, Kate was on antenna Luz 2 of the Optimus network. Gerry was on Vodafone, and its mast is quite a bit to the east of the mound. There is a very minor reference in the files to St James, the pink and white buildings stretching from the centre to the right hand side of the photo. Gerry was seen driving past it on Rua do Cemitério. This was considered insignificant by the PJ. It happens to be the logical route from Baptista supermarket to 27 Rua das Flores.

10 23 May 16

This is nearly at the top. The road is still climbing quite a bit and turning to reach a flat, large area.

11 23 May 16

This is basically the top of the mound and looking south, where it opens out into a large turning zone. The size is hard to grasp from the photo, but a car would be able to turn round without needing a 3-point turn. If you remember the photos of the Operation Grange dig of this whole area in June 2014, it was normal to see a very large van parked on the top. I presume that was a mobile control centre for the exercise.

12 23 May 16

OK, I’ve gone to one corner of the car park/turning area, looking towards Luz and the cliffs to the east. While I’m trying to show you that which Google does not, most people go to the opposite end of the tarmac, and take vista photos from there. The building with the stepped top is LuzTur, on Rua Primeiro de Maio.

13 23 May 16

Look carefully at the next photo and almost dead centre you can see a small black car travelling down Rua 25 de Abril. In the June 2014 dig, that is where most of the photographers got there pictures of the activities near the top of the mound. Now you have an idea of what the police saw from the top of the mound when they looked down at the media bods.

14 23 May 16

This is the road that runs along the south of the mound, the lowest level. I wanted to have a look at the motor home that appears earlier. This is from the entrance to the road, and the motor home is tucked away from any traffic. This road is also two lanes wide, again looking much narrower because of the overgrowing vegetation.

15 23 May 16

This shows again how far the motor home is from the end of the road. I should have paid more attention to where the vehicle was registered, but by this time I was getting dehydrated in the sun.

16 23 May 16

I scampered around the motor home for a few minutes, and I never heard a single sound from within. Either the people inside were quiet as church mice, or they were very trusting, leaving a window wide open like that. Had they not heard about the ‘spate of burglaries’ in Luz associated with the Madeleine McCann case?

17 23 May 16

The next photo is simply to give you some idea of how big the mound looks from the south. This was taken very close to the motor home. It is a flight of steps that leads from the bottom level of the mound to the middle level. It goes up perhaps one half of the hill. I don’t know why it has been built here. Basically, it goes nowhere, saves no time, and frankly it looks like a truly horrendous climb.

18 23 May 16

Earlier on, I showed you the police view from the top of the mound to the journalists on Rua 25 de Abril. This is the opposite view, from the photographers favoured position to the mound. If you are wondering why it only looks vaguely familiar, please remember that the photographers came armed with enormous zoom lenses. My camera is fitted with an 8x optical zoom which gets nowhere near what those guys were capable of. But what I was doing was trying to reproduce what the human eye can see, not what can be done with a zoom lens.

19 23 May 16

It has been a particularly long post, so I will leave the analysis to another day. Just remember the motor home on the flat earth road beside the sea and the motor home on the mound.

Madeleine – Luz tour 1 – part 2

Part 2 was a bit of a curate’s egg. The morning session took us to the site of the Scotland Yard June 2014 dig and we had a look at the mobile phone masts and the CCTV on Estrela da Luz. After 2 days of what for me is a lot of walking, around 1pm we called a halt because my back was giving me grief.

Then there was to be an evening session, intended to cover 4 hostelries that are prominent in the case, plus the Smith sighting viewed under the same lighting conditions as those seen by the Smith’s.

And that is where the plan collapsed. We went in to Fernando’s (Café Bar Calheta) and Fernando was happy to talk to us for an extended period. So the visit was already considerably longer that planned.

Then we got chatting with a Portuguese guy who runs water sports from the main beach. To my surprise he was actually happy to chat about the Madeleine case, so we were chatting for quite a while to him.

By this time I had imbibed more than is normal for me, and I had not made allowance for the fact that wine served in a bar is considerably stronger than my normal choice.

So, at one moment we were chatting away quite happily and the next thing I remember is waiting for the bombeiros to arrive with an ambulance, and a crew of three. It seems I had gone off my chair backwards and cracked my head on the tiles.

The chap in charge of the bombeiros spoke fluent English. He cleaned up the cut and recommended that I got a couple of stitches in the head wound. I didn’t want to go to the local hospital for that so I declined. The guy asked me other questions to make sure I was not concussed, then got me to sign a form, which I think was to say I had declined his recommended course of treatment.

All in all the ending was bit of a disaster. I woke up this morning and my head is basically fine, not an issue. But I seem to have wrenched my left elbow quite a bit, so moving that is very painful. I have now found out just how difficult life must be for people who are one handed.

Based on what we have covered so far, a complete tour should take around 6 hours, though my back is not up to doing that in a single day. And hopefully without the head cracking routine.