Just five hours in May

What really happened to Madeleine Beth McCann?

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Introduction and short Overview

The following text is an extract of the British Wikipedia Article on the Maddie Case.


1993 - 2003

Madeleine's parents Gerald and Kate McCann] are both physicians and practising Roman Catholics…. The couple met in 1993 in Glasgow and were married in 1998. Madeleine was born in 2003 and the twins, a boy and a girl, two years later.

28 April 2007

The couple were on holiday in Praia da Luz with a group of seven friends from the UK and eight children in all, including the McCanns' three. Several of the friends – Russell O'Brien, Matthew Oldfield, and Fiona and David Payne – had studied medicine together at the University of Leicester. The group consisted of O'Brien and his partner Jane Tanner, a marketing manager; Oldfield and his wife Rachael, a recruitment consultant; and the Paynes, who were accompanied by Fiona Payne's mother, Dianne Webster. The nine adults met up most evenings during the holiday at 20:30 in the resort's tapas restaurant, as a result of which the media dubbed the friends the Tapas Seven.

The McCanns arrived in Praia da Luz on 28 April 2007 and stayed at 5A Rua Dr Agostinho da Silva, which they had booked for a seven-night break through the British holiday company, Mark Warner. 5A was a two-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of the fifth block of a group of apartments known as Waterside Village. The block lay on the perimeter of Mark Warner's Ocean Club resort and overlooked its pool, tennis courts, tapas restaurant and bar. Many of the privately owned apartments were rented by Mark Warner for its guests; the McCanns' apartment was owned by a retired teacher from Liverpool.

Located on the corner of Rua Dr Agostinho da Silva and Rua Dr Francisco Gentil Martins, 5A was accessible to the public from all sides. … The three children slept in a bedroom next to the front door. The room had one waist-high window with an exterior shutter, which looked onto a narrow walkway that was separated from the car park by a one-metre-high wall. The twins slept in travel cots in the middle of the room, while Madeleine was in a single bed on the opposite side of the room from the window.

3 May 2007

Time around 20:30

Thursday, 3 May, was the penultimate day of the family's holiday. The children spent the morning in the resort's Kids' Club while the parents went for a walk, then the family lunched together at their apartment before heading to the pool. Madeleine's mother took the last known photograph of Madeleine by the pool that afternoon, sitting next to her father and two-year-old sister… The parents left the apartment at 20:30 to dine with their friends in the Ocean Club's open-air tapas restaurant, 50 metres (160 ft) as the crow flies on the other side of the pool. …. The McCanns and their friends left the table throughout the evening to check on their children. Madeleine's father carried out the first check on 5A at around 21:05. All was well, except that he recalled having left the children's bedroom door only slightly ajar and now it stood almost wide open…

Time around 21:15

One of the McCanns' travelling companions, Jane Tanner, left the restaurant at 21:15 to check on her own daughter. She passed Madeleine's father on Rua Dr Francisco Gentil Martins on his way back to the restaurant from his 21:05 check. He had stopped to chat to a British holidaymaker, Jes Wilkins. Neither man saw Tanner. This became an issue that puzzled the Portuguese police, given how narrow the street was, and led them to accuse Tanner of having invented the sighting.

At that point Tanner noticed a man with a young child cross the junction with Rua Dr Agostinho da Silva just ahead of her, heading east away from the Ocean Club. She said he was carrying the child, who was barefoot and wearing light-coloured pink pyjamas with a floral pattern and cuffs on the legs, a description that matched the pyjamas Madeleine had been wearing. ….Tanner gave the information to the Portuguese police, but they did not pass it to the media until 25 May. Madeleine's Fund arranged for a forensic artist to create an image of the man, which was released to the public in October 2007.

Although Tanner had not seen the man's face, the sighting became important because it offered investigators a time frame for the abduction, but Scotland Yard eventually came to view it as a red herring. In October 2013 they said a British holidaymaker had stepped forward to say he believed he was the man Tanner had seen, and that he had been returning to his apartment after picking up his own daughter from the Ocean Club night creche. Scotland Yard took photographs of the man wearing the same or similar clothes to the ones he was wearing on the night, and standing in a pose similar to the one Tanner reported. The pyjamas his daughter had been wearing also matched Tanner's report. The detective in charge of the Scotland Yard inquiry said that as a result his officers were “almost certain” that this sighting was not related to the abduction.

Time around 22:00

The Tanner sighting suggested Madeleine had been taken around 21:15, but another sighting of a man carrying a child that night was reported to Portuguese police by Martin and Mary Smith, who were on holiday from Ireland. The Smiths saw the man at around 22:00 on Rua da Escola Primária, 500 yards (457 m) from the McCanns' apartment, carrying a young girl and walking in the direction of Rua 25 de Abril and the beach. They described the girl as 3–4 years old, wearing light-coloured pyjamas, with blonde hair and pale skin. ….

In 2008 private detectives with Oakley International, a company hired by Madeleine's Fund, questioned the consistency of the Tanner report and became more interested in the Smith sighting. Oakley prepared e-fit images – one based on Martin's description and the other on Mary's – but the Fund decided not to release them. This was in part because Martin Smith came to believe that the man he had seen was Gerry McCann – something Scotland Yard ruled out because witnesses placed Gerry in the tapas restaurant at 22:00 – and so releasing the e-fits risked feeding the conspiracy theories about the McCanns, which were at their height in 2008. When Scotland Yard became involved in 2011 and ruled out the Tanner sighting, they came to believe that it was the Smith sighting that gave them the approximate time of Madeleine's kidnap, and in October 2013 they released the Oakley International e-fits to coincide with a BBC Crimewatch reconstruction of the disappearance.

Time around 22:00

Madeleine's mother, Kate, had intended to check on the children at 21:30, but Matthew Oldfield, one of the Tapas Seven, offered to do it when he checked on his own children in the apartment next door. He noticed that the McCanns' children's bedroom door was wide open, but after hearing no noise he left their apartment without looking far enough into the room to see whether Madeleine was in bed. … Kate made her own check at around 22:00. Scotland Yard believe that Madeleine was taken just moments before this. She recalled entering the apartment through the patio doors at the back, and noticed that the children's bedroom door was wide open. …Madeleine's Cuddle Cat and pink blanket were still on the bed, but Madeleine was gone. After briefly searching the apartment Kate ran back towards the restaurant, screaming that someone had taken Madeleine.

At around 22:10, according to Kate, Madeleine's father sent Matthew Oldfield to alert the resort's 24-hour reception desk and to call the police, and at 22:30 the resort activated its missing-child search protocol. The resort's manager said that 60 staff and guests searched until 04:30, at first assuming that Madeleine had wandered off. One of them told Channel 4's Dispatches that from one end of Luz to the other, you could hear people shouting her name.


Portuguese investigation (2007/5/3–2008/7/21)

9 September 2007: McCanns return to the UK

Despite their arguido [suspect] status, the McCanns were allowed to leave Portugal and arrived back in England on 9 September 2007. The following day Tavares de Almeida, head of the Polícia Judiciária in Portimao, signed a →police report concluding that Madeleine had died in apartment 5A as a result of an accident, and that the McCanns had concealed the body and faked an abduction. On 11 September the 10-volume case file was passed to a judge, Pedro Miguel dos Anjos Frias, who authorized the seizure of Madeleine's mother's diary and her father's laptop. ….

In October Gonçalo Amaral, the inquiry's coordinator in Portugal, was removed from his post after telling a newspaper that the British police only pursued leads that were helpful to the McCanns. He was replaced by Paulo Rebelo, deputy national director of the Polícia Judiciária. The team of detectives was expanded and a case review began. On 29 November four members of the Portuguese investigation – including Francisco Corte-Real, vice-president of Portugal's forensic crime service – were briefed at Leicestershire police headquarters by the Forensic Science Service.

April 2008

The Tapas Seven were interviewed by Leicestershire police in England in April 2008, with the Polícia Judiciária, including Paulo Rebelo, in attendance. The Polícia Judiciária planned the following month to hold a reconstruction in Praia da Luz, using the McCanns and Tapas Seven rather than actors, but it was cancelled when the Tapas Seven declined to participate. The poor relationship between the McCanns and the Portuguese police was evident again in April when, on the day the couple were at the European Parliament in Brussels to promote a monitoring system for missing children, transcripts of their interviews with the Polícia Judiciária were leaked to Spanish television. The national director of the Polícia Judiciária, Alípio Ribeiro, resigned not long after this, citing media pressure from the investigation; he had publicly said the police had been hasty in naming the McCanns as suspects.

21 July 2008

A judgment from the Evora Supreme Court of Justice in Portimao was released on 29 May and revealed that Portuguese prosecutors were examining several charges, including abandonment of a child, abduction, homicide and concealment of a corpse. Two months later, on 21 July 2008, the Portuguese Attorney General announced that there was no evidence to link the McCanns or Robert Murat to the disappearance, that the case was closed, and that the arguido status of all three had been lifted.

4 August 2008

On 4 August Ministério Público released →11,233 pages of the case file to the media on CD-ROM.


2010–present: New police investigations

The British Home Office began discussions with the Association of Chief Police Officers in 2010 about setting up a new investigation. At the request of Home Secretary Theresa May, Scotland Yard launched an investigative review called Operation Grange in May 2011, consisting of a team of 28 detectives and seven civilians led by Commander Simon Foy. Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood of Scotland Yard's Homicide and Serious Crime Command is the senior investigating officer, reporting to Detective Chief Superintendent Hamish Campbell.

The review, which had cost ₤5 million by June 2013, was financed by a government contingency fund at the request of Prime Minister David Cameron, reportedly after News International persuaded the government to get the British police involved. DCI Redwood said that the British and Portuguese police were working collaboratively. He said he rejected the conspiracy theories about the parents' involvement and was focusing on “a criminal act by a stranger.”. The team released an updated age-progressed image of Madeleine in April 2012; Redwood said they believed she may still be alive.

July 2013

In July 2013 DCI Redwood announced that Operation Grange had become a new criminal inquiry. Alison Saunders, senior crown prosecutor for London, and Jenny Hopkins, head of the Crown Prosecution Service's Complex Casework Unit in London, travelled to Portugal to discuss new leads, and Scotland Yard made a formal request for assistance to the Portuguese police.

October 2013

In October 2013 Scotland Yard and the BBC's Crimewatch reconstruction of Madeleine's disappearance was broadcast in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany. They released several e-fits just before and during the broadcast, including the Oakley International e-fit of the man the Smiths saw that night. After the programme aired in the UK, several people called in with the same name for the man. Scotland Yard also re-released e-fits created in 2007 of black- and blonde-haired men seen near the McCanns' apartment on and around the day of the disappearance. DCI Redwood said the men may have been involved in reconnaissance for a pre-planned abduction.

November 2013

In November 2013 the London Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, suggested that the British and Portuguese police set up a joint inquiry.

Jan. - Apr. 2014

Operation Grange now on duty in Portugal, read latest News at →McCannFiles.