Madeleine – XRX #1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Madeleine v the night

There are a number of places Google StreetView does not go that are relevant to the disappearance of Madeleine. Many of these are relevant both by day and by night.

A while back I tried to emulate the Smith sighting at night. The photos I took were useless. I didn’t know how to set the flash on my camera to off, which meant the results looked absolutely nothing like what the human eye sees.

Since then, I have learned how easy it is to set the flash function to off. And last night I went to bed early, which meant I woke up in the early hours, and could not go back to sleep. So it was time for an experiment.

These photos have nothing whatsoever to do with the Madeleine case. They are simply a test to see if I can get something that approximates to a human eye view in a night time setting. They were taken this morning at 5am, before any hint of sunlight. There was no cloud cover, so there is also starlight and a the moon was about one third full.

201604020502med

201604020503med

They look quite reasonable to me, but the test has thrown up some issues.

The first is that I took 7 or 8 photos, and these were the only two that passed muster. My left arm is still crocked so getting the camera steady is quite difficult. That means it will be a few weeks more before I try to get some more photos relative to the case. There is no point in trekking down the hill into Luz, taking some poor quality photos, then trekking back up.

In turn, that means I will probably be testing out the video function on the camera in the interim. Some of the events of that week in May 2007 are better understood in video.

The second issue is whether I have actually captured what the human eye sees. This one is actually quite difficult. I need to check the result – the photograph – against the human eye. Is the photo just as bright, just as much contrast, just as sharp as the original? Do the colours, or lack of them, match well? Is the focal angle a good match i.e. do you get the same width and depth as a human being sees, not fisheye or zoom? Is everything the human eye can see being captured, or are some things being dropped off by the camera software while others get emphasised?

The two photos, IMO, are a fair match to what I could actually see, but to be confident of that, I need to check the photos in detail, then go out again in similar conditions again to recheck on the match.

Basically, it would be cool if I was a pro-grade photographer or video cameraman, but I’m not. I take photos or videos to capture holidays and family fun, not to compete with those trained in the industry..

So the plan at the moment is to see if I can get the basics right. Given that my camera/video is in the €60 to €70 price bracket, trying for anything higher is laughable.

Until my dodgy arm gets a bit better, it’s practice, practice, practice! And some physiotherapy for my poorly arm so I can stop the camera shake.

Madeleine – was Luz quiet – LuzTur

Things get a little bit messy when it comes to tagging on the establishments in and around LuzTur. I tend to think of this as two distinct parts – LuzTur, the 10 storey block – and the Commercial Centre next door. Others use LuzTur to cover both, so being precise about where businesses were becomes problematic.

It also seems there was an internal connection between the two, allowing pedestrian traffic to go back and forth.

In addition to the internal connection, LuzTur had four entrances/exits, so people could get in and out in a variety of ways.

Both LuzTur and the Commercial Centre have entrances on Rua Helena do Nascimento Baptista. As far as I am aware, due to the civic improvements of the time, Rua HNB had been dug up, resulting in zero car traffic. Whether people simply walked some way on Rua HNB, or they parked elsewhere and used a different entrance, is supposition.

The establishments that I know of are as follows.

Café Polly, Commercial Centre. This was a café/pasteleria, so I am assuming it was closed by the time of the Smith sighting, giving a green dot.

Boozey Suzy’s bar, Commercial Centre. I have the vague feeling there was a mention of this in the JP files, but the pub gets every variation of Boozey and Soosie, so for the moment it will give an amber dot.

Irish Legend bar, Commercial Centre. A sports bar that also got Irish TV. This is another amber.

Baptista junior, beside the Commercial Centre.  This was the predecessor of the larger Baptista referred to in the JP files.  Junior remains today (and in May 2007) for fresh fish and bread/cakes.  These are run a two separate concession, which is why there is an odd mix.  Junior would also have closed down for the evening, hence it is green.

Maharajah Indian restaurant, LuzTur. This was large, and at the time the only Indian in Luz. Another Amber.

Aquario restaurant, LuzTur. Another amber.

Luz cinema. This is a bit of a curate’s egg. It was on the opposite side of the Commercial Centre, with a car park opening onto Primeiro de Maio, so in that sense it could be relevant to the Smith sighting. However, it was normal for the film programme to start at 9:30 PM, quite some time before the sighting. Unless Smithman knew of the cinema times, implying an excellent knowledge of Luz, it seems to have minor relevance to him. However, it does impact on other scenarios, such as Gerry (allegedly) moving a body before talking to Jes Wilkins, so I’ll make it another amber.

Luz Establishments May 2007

Madeleine – was Luz quiet – Primeiro de Maio

Primeiro de Maio is critical to the Smithman sighting. In order to get from apartment 5A to the place in Primary School street where the Smith sighting took place, the culprit had to cross Rua Primeiro de Maio.

Primeiro de Maio is one of a small number of streets on Luz that is incredibly busy with traffic coming in and out.

So let me start at the north and walk you down the Primeiro de Maio.

The commercial establishment furthest up the hill is the hotel Belavista. It has a restaurant that is open to the public, complete with wide-screen TV and special functions on a frequent basis. None of this is particularly important. What matters is that it is a good size hotel, with pedestrians and taxis alike heading up and down the Rua.

A little further to the west and just off the street was the City Sol (now closed). This was a spacious Chinese restaurant set perhaps 30m from PdM. It is not the view that is important in the case of Madeleine McCann. Once again it is traffic, to and from the restaurant.

Down the hill, next to PdM was Cozinha da Luz, mainly a take-away for chicken and ribs. Folks driving in, folks driving out.

A little bit further down again is Dom Doce, a pasteleria situated on a part of LuzTur (Luz Tower) that fronts onto PdM. I am marking this in green (probably not open). It is an early morning joint much loved by Portuguese locals, but whether it operated at 10 at night is a long shot. Dom Doce happens to be opposite the largest car park in Luz and it is within by far the largest building (ten stories) in Luz, but I will still leave this as green.

On the west side of PdM was the Cave Bar, a family run bar/restaurant that has already featured. It had/has a front entrance on PdM. It had/has a rear entrance on 25 de Abril, just next to the entrance for Sergey Malinka’s parents’ flat.

Opposite the Cave Bar, and stuffed in one after the other, are the final three establishments at the south of the street.

The Nautilus – a pub and snack bar.

Pizzeria Deliciosa – a pizza and pasta restaurant.

Arte Hamburguer – despite what this sounds like it was a fairly decent Portuguese restaurant.

Luz May 2007
Luz May 2007

Madeleine – to the beach?

Using the same convention as before, that amber means places that should have been open around the time that Madeleine disappeared, here is the list of additional points of interest, located close to the church, Nossa Senhora da Luz.

North of the church –

Credit Agrícola 24hr ATM

Luz Tavern

West of the church –

Ali Super convenience store

South of the church

Atlantico restaurant

Cavaleiro restaurant

Chaplin’s restaurant

Fortaleza restaurant

Marujo restaurant

So there were 5 restaurants around the south of the church, using the square between the Fortaleza on the west and the other 4 on the east as a car park. There is only one route for car access to these, running between the Ali Super store and the church.

Precisely where the ‘to the beach’ tale for Smithman originated is something I don’t know. For there to be any truth in it, an abductor would be running the gauntlet. An innocent person would not, but I cannot think of why someone would take a young child to the beach at that time of night.

Aoife Smith mentions the Cavaleiro, Chaplin’s and the Marujo as restaurants south of the church as places where the Smith family would dine out in Luz. However, as she dined in the Dolphin on 3rd May, these 3 are staying amber until better information emerges.

Luz Establishments M3

Madeleine v Smithman sighting

The graphic attached adds establishments and facilities in and around the Smith sighting.

As in a previous post, the Smith sighting is a pink square, labelled S. All of the red dots are no go zones for an abductor on foot, as they are all pubs or restaurants that were known to be active on 3rd May 2007, according to statements in the PJ files.

The graphic has a traffic light system for an abductor. Red is no go. Amber is caution. Green is OK to proceed. I am using white to denote a known establishment, but where I cannot tell what was happening at the time (or even if the place was in operation in May 2007).

Amber is going to feature prominently. It means I think the establishment was in place, I think it was open on 3rd May around the hour that Madeleine disappeared, but I cannot be sure. It means it should have been functioning, but I cannot be certain.

Take, for example, The Lime Tree restaurant. Its working hours say it should have been open. It did not have a day off on Thursdays. It wasLuz Establishments Smithman definitely there on 3rd May 2007. However, small places will close temporarily for a variety of reasons, so while The Lime Tree should have been open, I cannot prove definitively that it was. Hence, it gets amber.

Rua 25 de Abril – green i.e. abductor on foot is good to go –

O Celeiro supermarket (opening hours do not fit the Smith sighting)

Rua 25 de Abril – amber i.e. caution –

Barclays Bank 24hr ATM

Clive’s cocktail bar

Royal Garden Chinese restaurant

The Lime Tree restaurant

The Cave bar (rear entrance)

Espírito Santo bank 24hr ATM

Rua 25 de Abril – white i.e. unknown –

Almeida Cafè

Amici restaurant

Godot’s bar

The Snug Bar

Volau Pizza and Pasta (mainly take-away)

Maxim’s bar (possibly closed for good)

Rua Calheta – green –

Look steak restaurant (it hadn’t been built in May 2007)

Rua Calheta – amber –

Fernando’s bar aka Cafè Calheta

The Bull bar and restaurant

If you take a look at the graphic and simply focus on the reds and ambers, you should already be concluding that Luz was far from ‘closed’ when Madeleine disappeared.

I need to add around the same number of lights again to give a proper picture of what was happening that night.

The bottom line is already clear. Luz was, that night, shining as bright as any Xmas tree!

Madeleine – Estrela da Luz CCTV

Please bear in mind that the following information is all about the current set-up of CCTV with Estrela da Luz, therefore it may not accurately represent the set-up on 3 May 2007.

Estrela da Luz was (and is) a gated complex with a security fence around the perimeter. This allowed the owners to deploy CCTV within the grounds. According to the architect of the Ocean Club, deployment of CCTV in public areas is prohibited. I don’t know whether that is accurate or not, as CCTV is deployed near ATMs in Luz, but no matter. Estrela had CCTV.

There are 9 entrances to the complex. Each has CCTV, and each has a prominent sign to anyone entering (or to anyone passing by) that CCTV is in use for security purposes.

Each of the entrances has a single camera, with the exception of one at the eastern end, which for some reason has two. So there are 10 cameras.

Of these, 8 are currently trained in a manner such that they view only the interior of the complex i.e. they are trained near the gates but do not view the exterior.

However, the two over two of the four gates to the north are mounted quite low down on the buildings. There is no doubt whatsoever that those two not only observe the inside of the gates, they observe the gates themselves, and the street outside the gates.

In brief, these two cameras can see one side of Rua do Cemitério, the south side.

If the cameras were in the same configuration on 3 May 2007, the only way Estrela da Luz CCTV would have been useful re Smithman is one of two cases. One is that Smithman wandered along Rua do Cemitério not paying attention to the notices. The other is that Smithman entered and exited the complex, but the relevant tape was omitted by (take your pick) personnel from Estrela da Luz (by accident or intent) or someone from the JP (in a highly risky manoeuvre).

As far as I can see, the “missing” Estrela da Luz CCTV is neither here nor there. It had nothing of value to offer.