Madeleine – CMTV O Enigma

CMTV’s 10 year special, O Enigma, aired on 1 May 2017, and to be honest, I did not gain much from it at all.

The format was basically a day in Luz speaking to Gonçalo Amaral with two presenters. While it covered a great deal of ground, it had little depth. And it trotted out a lot of unsubstantiated claims.

It did have a drone camera with some nice aerial pics, but I would say that BBC’s Panorama won the battle of the drones.

The programme took a fairly loaded Portuguese view, but that is roughly what I would have expected, given that the target audience was Portuguese.

Gonçalo Amaral pointed out a number of inconsistencies and changes in early statements by the Tapas 9.

The Tannerman and Smithman sightings were touched on, but again with little detail.

The programme moved on to Calpol. It was incorrectly described.

Then O Enigma moved to events of the night before swiftly moving to Eddie and Keela, and dog alerts. Two pieces of Kate’s clothing, two pieces of Madeleine’s clothing, Cuddle Cat, the key fob, the boot.

Then, was there a frozen body? Was there a chilled body? Whoever believes this bumph does not understand the basics of decomposition. Animal and fish products are gutted to remove the bacteria that would rot the carcass.

The programme then rambled, over a mysterious apartment near the cemetery, a supposed rogatory that does not appear in the PJ Files, and back to Calpol.

O Enigma moved onto the McCanns suing Amaral, and Amaral winning.

There was quite a long section about the coffin in the church with an English lady about to be cremated. There are details in this that I had not heard before, but none of them stack up.

Perhaps the oddest thing was close to the end. Gonçalo Amaral said he should have remained in the PJ while writing his book. Personally, I think he would have got shredded by the Portuguese judges if he had done that.


Madeleine – Luz weather station 12.37

I discussed whether there was a weather station in Luz with my last tour visitor. The data being presented in support of this idea can be shown to come from the Faro weather station, while there is a weather station much closer to Luz in Sagres. Paulo Rebelo requested the local weather for 3 and 4 May 2007, but when the weather forecasters asked for around €300 for this data, he seems to have declined to take it further.

This November 2016 I decided to try a little experiment. I decided to record the local weather in Luz each day at 12.37. I am recording the temperature (in the shade), the degree of cloud cover, the wind direction and strength. There have been successes and what I can best describe as opportunities to learn.

Lest anyone should think I have lost my marbles, please remember the role that weather plays in the disappearance of Madeleine.

There is the weather experienced by the Tapas 9 and others on that fateful evening of 3 May 2007. There is the question of Tannerman carrying a child without using a blanket. That is followed by Kate’s whooshing curtains and clunking door. And around the same time there is Smithman, also with a child without a blanket.

If you are curious as to where the 12.37 comes in, here is the explanation. Portugal is in exactly the same time zone as the UK. When UK clocks went back in late October, so did Portuguese clocks, to maintain synchronicity. At Greenwich, the sun is overhead and due south at 12 noon. But Luz is further west than Greenwich, and the Earth has to rotate for a further 37 minutes, until it is due south here at 12.37. I can then use the sun as a compass when I am trying to work out wind direction.

It is time to look at what I have learned from this little experiment.

First, trying to remember that 12.37 is approaching and I need to take the readings is not a robust system. I have had ‘wobble factors’ of an hour and a half.

Second, buildings are a major source of interference in working out wind direction. If I stand near our villa, I get how the wind is being channelled rather than the true wind direction. Were Kate’s curtains/door from channelled wind?

Third, a once a day reading is well nigh useless. At 12.38 today, I recorded 90% sun. Within about an hour it clouded over considerably, and now at 16.00 it is 100% overcast and raining. I have been using the video of the McCanns being taken by car for interview #1 on the morning of 4 May as an indicator of the weather the evening before, but my experiment has proved how dangerous this is.

In the same vein, anyone promoting data that does not come from a proper, automated data gathering weather station is promoting rubbish. I might as well keep a diary and rely on my memory of how the day went. I got a lot of vitamin D on my trip to Spar this morning, and I’m glad I chose to go then, because if I was out in it now, I’d be wet, cold and miserable.

Fourth, I have learned that nature can help. My chosen spot away from the house has a couple of clumps of bulrushes. Compared with wetting my finger and doing a 360° turn the bulrushes are much better at telling me the wind direction.

It may that when we move I will buy an automated weather station, given that I now understand the basics of weather monitoring, and the futility of manual checks. Goodness only knows we will have a huge expanse of garden on which we are permitted to do very little. I don’t think I need permission for a small weather station.

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 v video 2

Tonight’s video test was to check what one can see in low-level light. My camera will NOT do night-time, so this test was to EMULATE night time. Can I make early evening look like the Tannerman or Smithman sighting? How you would see it if you were back in 2007 and on location?

I think I can. No doubt a professional cameraman would do much better, but it is 3 weeks before one of those in going to turn up in Luz. The 9th anniversary is nearly upon us.

I want to see if I can give you some important bits and pieces before then.

What’s on the menu? Short and long routes from 5A to OC 24hr reception. Tannerman sighting. Smithman sighting.

Alternatively, watch what the main stream commentators turn out for 3 May 2016.

Madeleine – the McCanns did it – Luz tour #2

If the McCanns did ‘it’, whatever ‘it’ was, all they had to do was get past Luz. I have heard visitors while I was eating breakfast on the decking of the Paraíso restaurant (which is currently undergoing a total overhaul) look around and remark that it is easy to see from the rough terrain that hiding a body here would be easy.

If you can visit Luz, please get in touch with me, because I would like you to show you the reality. I think of this as the ‘Luz Challenge’. Our version of Mission Impossible. Your task is simple. 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 the subsequent searches.

The McCanns had 5 days to solve this puzzle, assuming there was intent to do so when they arrived at Faro airport.

Or if they had no intent, they are left with a much tougher task. How does one dispose of a body the size and weight of Madeleine, in a foreign country, after whatever incident might have happened, between 5:30pm and 10pm on one single night, the 3rd of May 2007?

Gerry had played golf in Portugal before. Kate had never previously visited the country. The pair had been on holidays with a similar background. In my first post on this, I made it clear that the couple did not seem to ‘explore’ Luz, though there is evidence of jogging that was outside the Ocean Club (by Kate at least).

So let me remind you of the ‘Luz Challenge’. Within the first week of arrival in Luz, you have to come up with a body disposal method that is going to defeat the subsequent checks and searches. It can be done, but I am predicting that you will not succeed.

Bearing this in mind, I now need to turn to the places of interest in Luz assuming the McCanns did ‘it’.

This obviously starts off with block 5 for apartment 5A, and quickly spreads to the Tapas Restaurant, and from there it goes crazy.

Jane Tanner’s sighting has to be factored in. That’s not too much effort as it is very, very close to block 5.

Then there is the Smith sighting. Now the area has to be expanded to the Dolphin and Kelly’s. For me, this is beginning to look like a rather general tour of Luz. Can I find any evidence that the McCanns were in this part of Luz? Nope.

What else? A visit to Baptista supermarket. As dull as that sounds, it can actually be a bit of fun. Trust me, I’m your friend.

There has to be a look at the rubbish system in Luz. This bit is boring, but it has to be done. You need to see how the system works, because that explains why the McCanns didn’t use it.

The route, or routes, to the Ocean Club 24 hour reception from apartment 5A require a quick view. If Madeleine spent morning and afternoon in the Mini Club there, surely this is important. By the way, you also need to get your head around the general subject of child entertainment in Luz, and the difficulty of making sure that young children have something interesting to do throughout the day in a 7-day holiday in Luz.

Then there is the trip to the beach. I am far from convinced that the route is important, as per a Textusa theorem. However, if you think it is, recreating this route is simple, so you can judge for yourself.

What is possibly more important about the trip to the beach is the ‘encounter’ with a street singer on the sea front and the market stalls where sunglasses are sold. You can do both. Not the original street singer, but Luz still has a busker.

Staying at the beach, we have Kate’s jog along the beach, whilst CCTV shows the Tapas 9 (minus Kate and Gerry) enjoying the Paraíso restaurant on the beach itself. Things have changed in the Paraíso. The owner from that time has died, so it has been passed on to new hands. It has recently been demolished. It is currently being reconstructed in an enlarged format, much to the chagrin of some locals, so you can no longer see the original layout, with the exception of that CCTV clip.

As of today, the Paraíso is still at the bare bones stage. The foundation is in and the ribs have been stuck up, but that is it. My visitor #1 is due in early March, and I cannot see the whole of the Paraíso going back up in that time. That is a bit of a shame, because it had or has some outstanding qualities. Never mind, this simply means it is a nut that needs to be cracked in a different way. I am used to cracking nuts when a different way is required.

The last area of interest is where Kate jogged. I don’t really mean the beach, although if you want a leisurely stroll along the beach combined with a look to see what can be found in some rock pools, then fair enough. Can I bring my grandchild along, because he loves this sort of stuff?

Kate’s main jog on record was to the east of Luz, out along the old road to Lagos. That has also changed. In Madeleine’s day, the junction with the N125 (the main road) was a traffic light system, but now that has been changed to a roundabout. More importantly, the restaurant near the camping site where the second radio call was put through to the GNR, the first response team, was Vale Verde. Again, the place has changed hands in the interim. Currently, it is run by people doing a Brazilian buffet for lunch. I am not a fan of a buffet, but this one has a good reputation, and it is on the route used by Kate for her jog. Two birds for one stone. Oh, and Operation Grange hauled up in it for lunch one day when they were digging up Luz in 2014. Three birds for one stone.

Now, your mission, if you decide to accept it, is very simple. The McCanns did not get a guided tour of the key locations in Luz, but you can get a complete head start if you wish. After that, you have 5 days to work out how to dispose of a body the size of Madeleine, minus transport, and minus a digging tool (usually called a spade). This is the Luz Challenge.

It can be done. However, my prediction is that you cannot come up with any reasonable theorem as to how the ‘McCanns done it’. Gonçalo Amaral struggled, and in my opinion failed, to come up with an explanation of how the ‘McCanns done it’. He had something like 25 years of experience policing Portugal and the Algarve, and he failed to come up with a solution to a one-word question. How?

How? How do you dispose of a child’s body when all you have is foot power, and no experience of Luz.

Would you like to see if you can overcome the Luz Challenge?

Madeleine – Luz tour – the McCanns did it #1

Anyone starting a tour of Luz with an open mind would include the possibility that the McCanns did it, whatever ‘it’ is.

This requires a bit of slicing and dicing to cover the possibilities of what ‘it’ might have been. The first major fork is looking at whether ‘it’ is disposing of a body, or whether ‘it’ is concealing a body successfully despite an extensive search, retrieving the body at a much later date, and then successfully disposing of the body.

Please bear in mind I am not saying any of this happened. I am simply considering the logistics of such acts, and where a visitor to Luz would need to go to understand the territory.

The second major slice and dice is considering whether this was an act planned in advance, or whether it was hastily required on 3 May due to unforeseen circumstances.

Personally, when I go away on holiday, I like to do a bit of research first, to see what there is of interest in the area, and then we normally hire a car so that we can mix a bit of exploring in with a bit of relaxing.

There is no evidence that the McCanns did much research beyond reading the Ocean Club brochure. In my opinion, the brochure portrays the Ocean Club as Luz, which is not true, and implies that facilities like Baptista supermarket and the post office are somehow connected to the Ocean Club, which they are not. Other commercial facilities in the area, such as the Chinese and other restaurants, the many bars and alternative play areas for children do not get a mention. The church, Nossa Senhora da Luz, does not feature. The Roman fish plant on the sea front is ignored. There is no mention of the cinema.

There is minimal evidence of intent, by the McCanns, to explore let alone actual exploring. Personally on such a holiday, I would have taken a double buggy for the twins if I thought anything off the Ocean Club complex was to be visited. Of course, with two adults and three young children in tow, the amount of luggage space already taken up by clothes and supplies may have made transporting a double buggy unattractive.

Kate’s book “Madeleine” makes it a single trip to the beach with the three children. There was no intent to visit Lagos, say for the marina, or Lagos zoo, which our grandchild of Madeleine’s age thinks is a wonderful day out.

Putting the children in their respective clubs each morning and each afternoon further constrained any opportunity to explore. After Madeleine disappeared, Gerry had to ask if there was a church in Luz, so it looks as if the McCanns had not visited the central area around the church. Nowadays, there is a small shop opposite the church selling ice-cream in 12 different flavours. I have no idea whether it existed back then. But it is a delightful pleasure to get a child an ice cream there, then walk downhill past the Fortaleza to the square below, which has seats and a stunning panoramic sea view.

The McCanns appear to have gone to Luz with the mind set of the Ocean Club firmly fixed. There was the opportunity to learn and play tennis, and food was to come from the Ocean Club.

After they tried the trek to the Millennium, they ruled it out as a place for breakfast. That particular walk, of around 650m, is relatively flat and so it is fairly easy for an adult. However, most of it runs along a 2-way traffic artery, which although it is 2-way, is an integral part of Luz’s one way system, so it is usually busy until late at night. For two adults with 3 young children and no buggy, I would classify that journey as difficult to very difficult and unpleasant. So the Millennium got dropped for breakfast, which is logical, and Baptista was used instead. That is not a major change, as Baptista would have been the place to buy lunch items, so tacking on breakfast food was hardly onerous.

That the group decided to book the Tapas restaurant each night from Sunday on is a bigger change. At 650m away, use of the Millennium would have meant the child-checking routines implemented would have been impossible. Either the children would have to be taken along, with the barrier of that difficult 650m walk for the McCann family. Or the children would have to be taken down to the Ocean Club night crèche, a walk of 300m (short way, unlit) or 350m (long way, lit, but with another main road.) It’s a load of hassle versus easy.

I have not reconstructed the Tapas Restaurant menu. It seemed to have a fair range, but it looks like it was using relatively repetitive cooking methods. Even though the dinner and wine was included in the price, personally I would have passed on the Tapas Restaurant for one night just to have something different.

Luz had an Indian restaurant just south of Baptista. (It has since closed, but two others have opened up.) There were small and large Portuguese restaurants nearby. There was a simple Italian restaurant nearby, complete with activities for small children. There were a number of English restaurants close to block 5. There were two Chinese restaurants slightly further away, now closed. The other Chinese, the one still open and near the Smithman sighting, has a large tank of Koi carp that little kids love to press their noses against and gaze at the fish.

None of these restaurants was close enough, in my opinion, to make feasible the baby checking system used by the Tapas 9, and none has any view of block 5 whatsoever.

Most owners who rent out properties here provide an information pack on the facilities, both of the apartment or villa, and of the features of Luz, including restaurant types, locations and phone numbers.

With 4 different apartments being rented by the Tapas 9, it is odds on one or more of them had such a pack. It is highly likely that this information was available to the adults in the group. It could be they were ignorant of this information. It is more probable that such information had been seen, but a collective choice was made to take the easy route and put the children to bed in block 5, then go to the Tapas Restaurant nearby.

Luz has another guide feature. There are several organisations who provide free maps, distributed from dispensers outside shops etc. These come in 6 or 8 ‘slices’ of the Algarve, with a complete collection mapping commercial organisations along the whole of the Algarve. The slice for this locality covers Luz, Espiche (the village to the north of Luz), Lagos, and Almádena and Burgau (to the north-west and west of Luz respectively).

It is normal to include one or more of these maps in the information pack to renters. If not, you see them widely on the streets of Luz. The maps are paid for by adverts for the bars, restaurants etc. featuring on the map.

I have yet to see one of these free maps that does not use the church, Nossa Senhora of Luz, as a feature point (without an advert of course). Anyone who had browsed one would have known where the church was, and indeed have a map to get to it.

The picture I have so far is that Kate and Gerry were relatively uninterested in Luz, and seldom ventured outside the Ocean Club complex (or Baptista) though there a couple of notable exceptions.

There is no evidence of car rental, a car loan, a friend with a car, the use of a taxi or the use of the local bus, at least until Madeleine’s disappearance So one challenge any ‘McCanns did it’ theorem faces is in the first stage, when disposal or concealment has to be on foot.

The time available for such an act starts at the time when Madeleine and the twins were signed out of high tea at the Tapas area. I am excluding conspiracy theories that involve other parents at high tea, the child minders looking after the children, and Tapas staff serving the children. There are other places where you can get more information on such conspiracy theories, and you’re probably aware of them already. So my clock starts ticking around 5:30pm.

I am not going into the David Payne visit, when it occurred and how long it lasted. It is possible to construct a simple conspiracy theorem that explains this. Since it makes little difference in a ‘McCanns done it’ theorem, I will leave the clock starting at 5:30pm.

I now have to layer on the challenge of Baptista supermarket. Mrs Jenny Murat indicated that she popped into Baptista for bread, shortly before it closed at 8pm. The Wayback Machine confirms that closing time was 8pm. Due to the traffic system of Luz, Rua Dr Martins, the road that runs down the hill from apartment 5A to the rear of Baptista, is busy until the supermarket closes, then it becomes quieter. So it is necessary to add the customers of Baptista coming and going, and staff leaving after the supermarket was closed.

Of course, there is also the consideration of customers of the Tapas restaurant that night, coming and going at various times, whether to eat in or to get a take-away. I haven’t checked the Tapas staff start times to see if these are before of after 5:30pm.

Into the mix I am putting the lighting conditions. I don’t know what time sunset was that evening, but I’m not sure it has much relevance. On one 3rd May I stood outside 5A around 9:15pm to consider the Tannerman sighting (and later I had a look at the Smithman sighting). The key thing about 9:15pm was that my eyesight was changing from daylight vision (colour) to to night vision (black and white). Colours were washed out and distorted by the yellow glow of the sodium street lights.

I have no comment to make on the colours reported by Jane Tanner. She is a fair bit younger than me, so her eyesight should be better.

Instead, I am making the point that anyone walking in Luz with a package the size and weight of Madeleine was taking a real risk in being spotted in lighting sufficient to permit a clear description.

My clock stops ticking at the time Kate McCann raised the alarm, at 10pm or shortly thereafter.

Whatever was done, if done by the McCanns, had either finished or the first stage had been carried out by then.

So the window of opportunity in the ‘McCanns did it’ appears to 5:30pm to 10pm. The logistics are made very daunting by multiple factors. Based on evidence, the McCanns were largely ignorant of Luz outside of the Ocean Club. They were restricted by movement on foot. Between the Tapas Restaurant and Baptista Supermarket, actual traffic or potential traffic, and movement on foot made a disposal from apartment 5A highly risky. From then until the light faded, the risk was reduced but still high. From the time the light faded to 10pm, the risk was significantly lower, but for most of that time the McCanns were in the Tapas restaurant.

All in all, the logistics of the ‘McCanns did it’ are looking to make this theorem well-nigh impossible. As it happens, it can be done, but it is extremely unlikely.

I need to cover the exceptions to the idea that the McCanns were in almost complete ignorance of Luz outside the Ocean Club.

The trip to the beach with the three children, using a double buggy borrowed from the Ocean Club, was via a route I did not know existed until the route was explained. Take your pick as to whether the McCanns somehow already knew about this, or whether they simply asked Ocean Club staff how to do it. They seem to have taken a different route back, and if so, they had a basic understanding of some of Luz outside of the Ocean Club.

On p49 of Kate’s book “Madeleine”, she wrote “there would be a rare chance for Gerry and me to spend time together playing tennis, going for a run or just relaxing”. Without actually checking, I cannot remember a reference to Gerry running in the PJ files.

On p66 of Kate’s book she wrote that on the afternoon of 3 May she “opted to go for a run along the beach, where I spotted the rest of our holiday group”.

On the esplanade in Luz there is a sign that explains what the sea water is tested for re quality, and what the results were. On every reading I have seen the results were much, much better than the standard required, so I tend to get annoyed when people who have not visited refer to sewage pipes draining into the sea. The pipes that drain into the sea are rainwater drains, not sewage.

On the same sign it lists the length of the beach of the Light. That’s praia da Luz to you, with a lower-case p, not a capital P. Luz comes from the church, Nossa Senhora da Luz (Our Lady of the Light), not from the beach of the Light (praia da Luz).

The length of the beach is listed as just over 300m on the testing sign. In the Imperial system, standard walking speed is taken as 4mph. If you convert this to metric, it comes out roughly as 100m per minute. So if the beach is 300m long and standard walking speed is 100m per minute, it should take around 3 minutes to walk it.

Of course, most people dawdle, frolic, and sometimes go as far as chatting to one another, even to strangers. Kate wasn’t walking or dawdling, she was jogging. Unless she did laps of the beach, she did some jogging elsewhere in Luz.

Luz is compact, though hilly. Both the downhill bit and the uphill bit are quite challenging, though well within the capacity of Kate’s jogging ability.

In Matthew Oldfield’s rogatory statement, he says he went jogging with Kate on Wednesday lunchtime, and found it hard to keep up with her. He says they ran until the route met up with the junction of the main road (which is the N125), and the distance was 3 or 4 miles each way.

There are two routes from apartment 5A to the N125. One is up Rua Primeiro de Maio to the junction near Espiche. That is up a steep hill out of Luz, but it is only about 1,200 metres, far short of a mile. So that route can be ruled out. The other route is east along the old road out of Luz towards Lagos, in the valley below Boa Vista golf course. At around 3,000m, this is still more like two miles than three or four. However, it is by far the best match for their jog.

The route is basically flat, and I would class it as unpleasant. It is the very old road that ran between Lagos – Luz – Burgau. As such, it is 2-way, narrow, and in far from pristine condition. It is still busy as it is the shortest route from Luz to Lagos. So, flat but lots of traffic on a narrow 2-way road.

Matthew also indicates, somewhat vaguely, that Kate might have gone running on other days, without indicating where or how often.

In summary, Kate’s running and the trip to the beach appear to be the only instances of the McCanns exploring outside of the Ocean Club complex.

If this is correct, the McCanns were basically ignorant about Luz.

Madeleine – Crimewatch 2013 English transcript pt 3

19:06 DCI Andy Redwood

Please come in.

DCI Andy Redwood is leading the investigation.

Primarily what we sought to do from the beginning is trying to draw everything back to, to zero if you like, try and sort of take everything back to the beginning and then reanalyse and reassess everything, accepting nothing.

The work of detectives in re-examining thousands of documents paid off when they were finally given the green light to launch a full-blown inquiry.

19:42 Outside apartment 5A

What follows is the result of this painstaking new investigation by Scotland Yard’s elite detectives. The truest account yet of what really happened that night.

20:01 Apartment 5A

Tell me now about the crime scene itself.

Yes, I mean the family with their three children were in apartment G five A. This was on the edge of a sort of contained area which was known as the Ocean Club, within which there was a Tapas bar and swimming pools and tennis court. But the actual apartments where they were staying was outside that perimeter area and it was, effectively, from front and back, accessible to the public. The front door was accessed by a car park and then the rear entrance was a side set of steps that lead up and into a rear balcony area that go into and through patio doors.

Madeleine and her siblings, Sean and Amelie, were staying in the front bedroom which looked out onto the front car park. Errm, Madeleine was in a bed and the two children were in travel cots and between, between Madeleine’s bed and the bed that was nearest to the window.

20:55 The time line

The careful and critical analysis of the time line has been absolutely key. Primarily, we’re focussed on the area between 8:30 and 10. We know that at 8 thirty, that was the time that Mr and Mrs McCann went down to the Tapas area for their dinner and we know that around 10pm, that was when Mrs McCann found that Madeleine was missing.

21:18 The Tanner sighting

One of the most pivotal events on the time line was Jane Tanner’s sighting of a man carrying a child. He was walking in this spot just meters from where Madeleine had been sleeping. This man was widely thought to be Madeleine’s abductor but the team was taking nothing for granted

21:42 The Ocean Club night crèche

One of the things that we picked up very quickly was the fact that there was a night crèche that was operating from the main Ocean Club reception, and 8 families had left eleven children in there and one particular family we spoke to gave us information that was really interesting and exciting.

In fact I would say it was a, it was a revelation moment when having discussed with them what they were doing on the night they themselves believed that they could be the Tanner sighting.

22:12 Crèche dad 1

The British father had collected his two-year-old daughter from the crèche. He had been walking near the McCanns apartment: This is the actual photograph taken by Metropolitan Police officers of the man dressed in the kind of clothes he wore on holiday. This image was compared to the artist’s impression.

It is uncannily similar, and we know that the pyjamas that their child was wearing that it is again is uncannily striking, the similarity.

22:48 Crèche dad 2

So, what you’re saying is, that the timing that everyone was working on for years in this case was wrong.

We are almost certain now that this sighting is not the abductor but very importantly what it says is that from 9:15, we were able to allow the clock to continue to move forward. And in doing so things that have not been quite as significant, or received quite the same degree of attention, are now the centre of our focus.

This was an enormous discovery for the team, an innocent explanation for the suspect who’d been at the centre the case the six years.

23:27 The Smith sighting

Their attention quickly turned to another sighting which could now be the key to the entire mystery.

It was here at 10pm that an Irish family witnessed another man carrying a child. They saw him come down the hill from the direction of the Ocean Club heading that way towards the beach.

Could this have been Madeleine and her abductor?

He was a white man with brown hair. And the child that he had in his arms was described as being about three to four years and with blonde hair possibly wearing pyjamas, a description very close to that of Madeleine McCann.

24:08 The Smith e-fits

Two of the witnesses helped create e-fits of the man they saw.

Today for the first time we can reveal the true significance of these images.

This could be the man that took Madeleine, but very importantly there could be an innocent explanation.

The e-fits are clear and I’d ask the public to look very carefully at them. If they know who this person is, please come forward.

24:36 Other sightings of interest

As part of their exhaustive investigation, the detectives are particularly interested in a number of blond-haired men who were seen near the McCanns apartment.

Do they hold the answer to her disappearance?

24:55 Other sightings of interest

One witness saw a fair-haired man near the McCanns apartment twice. On the first occasion, she saw him standing on the path that runs behind the block. The second time, near the entrance to the Tapas restaurant looking towards apartment G 5 A.

On the day Madeleine disappeared, two men were seen on the balcony of a nearby empty apartment, believed to be 5C, two doors down from the McCanns.

A man was also seen in the same area two hours later.

At 6pm, a man was seen in the stairwell in the McCanns apartment block.

And an hour after Madeleine was reported missing, two men were seen speaking with raised voices. When they saw the witness, they walked away talking in hushed tones.

25:55 The importance of the sightings

How important are these sightings, do you think?

Madeleine McCann’s disappearance does, on one reading of the evidence, have the hallmarks of a pre-planned abduction. That would undoubtedly have involved reconnaissance, and so we’re really keen to understand who these people were.

They may all be separate. So it’s really important this evening to say to the public that if you recognize yourself then please have the courage to come forward, because it’s really important for us to eliminate any sightings that are innocent and nothing to do with Madeleine’s disappearance.

26:28 The burglaries

As well as that line of inquiry, and the sighting by the Irish family of a man carrying a child, the police are also looking at a third important strand of their investigation.

We have noticed that there was, between January and the time Madeleine went missing, a four-fold increase in the number of burglaries that were taking place in the vicinity.

In the three weeks prior to her disappearance, two incidents took place in the very block when Madeleine slept. In both, windows were used to gain access.

Possibly, there is a scenario where Madeleine could have possibly disturbed somebody trying to commit a burglary.

To date, nobody has been caught for these crimes.