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Madeleine 'Sightings' *

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NEWS REPORTS INDEX MCCANN PJ FILES NEWS MAY 2007
 
There have been numerous 'sightings' of Madeleine McCann since she disappeared. None have proved to be of any substance.

Date
Location
Sighting
04/05/07
Praia da Luz
A Briton, who runs a company in the Algarve, has told police he spotted a couple carrying a young child, early on Friday morning 04 May 2007.
 
George Burke, from Liverpool, was driving home from nearby Lagos around 6.00am when he caught the two people in his car headlights. "I couldn't see them clearly because it was dark and windy. They scurried down a side road and out of sight."
 
The sighting was subsequently taken up by Metodo 3 and provided a lead story in many newspapers on 28 November 2007. Except this time, the story was presented in a much more dramatic light with the child, now almost certainly Madeleine, being 'cruelly dragged along' by a 'vicious-looking man'.
 
However, nowhere in the quotes attributed to Mr Burke does he mention that the child was being 'cruelly dragged along the road' or does he use the phrase 'vicious-looking man'.
 
He says: "It was very, very dark and it was hard to make out exactly what the couple looked like. But through the gloom I could see a very suspicious-looking man and woman, with a child who fitted Madeleine's description. Though there was nobody else on the road, they were hurrying across a road that leads straight to the train station and marina."
 
He adds (but only reported in The Sun): "They were trying to carry the kid without anyone seeing."
 
07/05/07
Lagos, Portugal
Police investigate a claim that a man was seen dragging a girl towards the marina at Lagos, a short drive from Praia da Luz.

09/05/07
Praia da Luz, Portugal
Police examine CCTV tape recovered from a petrol station on the motorway that leads to Spain, just a few miles from Praia da Luz. The footage allegedly shows a group of three people, two men and a woman, with a girl fitting Madeleine's description.
 
One of the male suspects seen on camera is said to have been positively identified by another witness, who spotted him a week before taking photographs of young blonde girls on a beach.
 
Portuguese witness Nuno Lourenco told police he saw a "foreign man" take a photo of his daughter - who looks "strikingly similar" to Madeleine - in the town of Sagres, 19 miles west of Praia da Luz. Mr Lourenco challenged the stranger who fled in a car.
 
For more about Nuno Lourenco, see The 'Eggman' page on this site

Galp Service Station
Galp Service Station

09/05/07
Marrakesh, Morocco
Norwegian tourist Mari Pollard says she saw a girl who looked like Madeleine with a man at a petrol station in Marrakesh, opposite the Ibis Palmeraie Hotel.
 
Nor­wegian-born Mari Pollard, 45, said the girl looked sad and confused. She said the man with her was white, aged 35-40, of average height and had dark brown hair. The child was “a sweet, blonde-haired girl with a very cute face. She was wearing blue pyjamas with a little pink and white pattern on her top”.

Mrs Pollard said it was only when she returned home to southern Spain that she found out a search was on for Madeleine.

She told the Daily Express: “When I saw her picture I knew the girl I had seen was Madeleine. I feel I should have done something. She looked so sad and so alone.”

Mrs Pollard and her British husband Ray, 56, immediately contacted police in Portugal, Spain and Britain. But she said none of the agencies has taken a statement.

Mari Pollard (nee Olli)

09/05/07
Marrakesh, Morocco
A British holidaymaker says he saw a youngster matching Madeleine's description outside the Ibis Hotel in Marrakesh.
 
The man said he is sure he saw the missing youngster in Marrakesh on May 9.
 
The sighting came on the same day and in the same area of the city that Norwegian tourist Mari Pollard also believes she saw the little girl.

11/05/07

Marrakesh, Morocco

A British holidaymaker came forward saying she had seen Madeleine in the Cafe des Epices in Marrakesh on May 11.

Jeannie Thompson saw a little blonde girl looking "dishevelled" with a man who was taking photographs of her.

 

Mrs Thompson, 56, a mother of one from Devon, thought immediately that something was wrong, but only reported it two weeks later when she was back in Britain.

 

"I was with a friend," she said. "The girl looked stunned, really shell-shocked.

 

"We didn't know then about the Madeleine case, but we were both really struck by how this girl looked."

 

The pair contacted Leicestershire Police when they heard about another possible sighting in Marrakesh and police took statements from Mrs Thompson in July.

27/05/07
Valletta, Malta
A Maltese woman reports to police that she saw a girl, who she believed to be Madeleine, with a man in the capital Valletta a week earlier.

30/05/07
Zaio, Morocco
A Spanish woman, Isabel Gonzalez, sees a girl being dragged across a street, by a woman in a headscarf.
 
Mrs Gonzalez reported her sighting of Madeleine to police as soon as she returned to her home in Melilla, a Spanish enclave in northern Morocco.
 
But she claims Portuguese officers later told her: "It can't be Madeleine, we think she's dead."
 
She described how she saw a little blonde girl being dragged across a street and thought immediately: "That's Madeleine."
 
She said she told her husband to stop the car. "I shouted 'Stop! It's Madeleine, the missing girl.' But by the time we pulled over and ran back to where she had crossed, they had both vanished."
 
The child was with an older woman in a Muslim headscarf, who was walking fast and trying to hide her face from passing cars.
 
Mrs Gonzalez said the girl's floppy hat was blown back by a gust of wind to reveal her face, She looked "very sad and scared".
 
Mrs Gonzalez shouted to her husband to stop their car and they went back to search for the woman and the child, but they had disappeared.
 
It was then that they saw the "European-looking" couple.*
 
(* See entry for 17/11/07)

Isabel Gonzalez
Isabel Gonzalez

17/06/07
Floriana, Malta
Two female British tourists said they saw a girl fitting Madeleine's description boarding a bus with a middle-aged woman at Floriana, near Valletta.

21/06/07
Sliema, Malta
Ray Roberts, from Angelesey, North Wales, said he saw a girl in the town of Sliema wearing, what he said was, a jet black wig being told: 'Get up little girl' by an Arab-looking man.
 
Mr Roberts said the girl he saw was taken away by a man in his 40s and a younger woman.
"It was obviously not his first language so it seemed odd that he had to speak to her in English," he said. "As a father, their reaction did not seem natural."

He added: "Then I noticed the little girl's hair. It was pitch black, very thick and cut in an unusual style for a child that age - very much like a wig rather than real hair.

"The more I think about what I saw the more convinced I became that it may well have been Maddie.

"The oddness of it all played out in my mind until I got home then I realised I had to do something."

But Justine McGuiness, spokeswoman for parents Gerry and Kate McCann said they were not giving credence to the claims at this stage and are focusing on events to boost awareness of her disappearance.

The spokeswoman said: "Their whole attitude from day one has been that they know there are going to be lots of bits of information but if they expended energy on every single one of them what would they be like by now?

"Until they hear that something has been checked out and there is a resolution of the piece of information one way or the other and that comes from an official source they are not going to focus on it."

Instead, they led a balloon release to mark the 50th day of their daughter's disappearance.

03/08/07
Tongeren, Belgium
Details emerge of a possible sighting of Madeleine in Belgium. A child therapist says she is '100% sure' she saw the girl at a restaurant in the town of Tongeren, not far from the Dutch border, on July 28.
 
For more detail click here

21/08/07

Fnidk, Morocco

A Spanish tourist claimed she spotted the missing four-year-old getting into a taxi with a rich Arab woman in her 50s.

Naoual Malhi, 24, was so convinced it was Madeleine she tried to follow the girl into the back of the cab. She was prevented from getting in, but got close enough to the blonde, fair-skinned girl to see the pupil in her right eye ran into the blue-green iris, just like Madeleine.

The holidaymaker took one of the taxi driver’s business cards. She phoned him and he revealed he drove them 300km to the north Moroccan port of Al Hoceima. Naoual tipped off Spanish police, who passed on the information to the Portuguese detectives hunting Madeleine.
 
The McCanns’ spokesman Clarence Mitchell confirmed the couple had been told of the lead, which was 'encouraging'.
 
* What should be noted about this 'sighting', on 21/08/07, is that it did not appear in newspapers until 02/11/07 when it was reported that 'detectives' were 'searching a Moroccan port last night'. The detectives in question were from Metodo3, the private detectives hired by the McCanns to search for Madeleine in countries outside Portugal.

Naoul Mahli
Naoul Mahli

23/08/07

Cartagena, Spain

It emerges that police in Spain are investigating a reported sighting. Two women saw a youngster with a man at a petrol station near Cartagena, in the south east of the country.

25/09/07

Zinat, Morocco

Spanish woman, Clara Torres, contacts police to report a possible sighting. The woman took a photograph of a girl with a group near the northern town of Zinat, just south of Tangiers on August 31.
 
However, the claim was quickly dismissed when it was revealed that the blonde girl captured in the photograph was Bouchra Benaissa, a three-year-old from Zinat in the north of the country.
 
Madeleine's uncle, John McCann, said her parents Kate and Gerry had stayed silent about the sighting in case their "hopes were dashed".
 

He said: "We are glad that people continue to search for Madeleine because she is still out there.

 

"The family have made a policy when it comes to sightings of not saying anything." 

Clara Torres, who took the photograph said she felt she had done the right thing in alerting police. "I did what I had to do," she said. 

Madeleine 'sighting' in Morocco, click to enlarge
Madeleine 'sighting' by Clara Torres

Madeleine 'sighting' in Morocco, click to enlarge
Close up of 'sighting'

Clara Torres, click to enlarge
Clara Torres

01/11/07

Medjugorje, Bosnia

A British tourist believes he may have seen the missing girl while on a trip to the Roman Catholic shrine of Medjugorje in Bosnia.
 
The man, from Fermanagh in Northern Ireland, was said to have became suspicious after seeing a little blonde girl with a dark-haired couple, who he felt could not be her parents.

Clarence Mitchell, the spokesman for the McCanns, said yesterday: "We are aware that there has been a potential sighting in Bosnia and our investigators are treating it as a priority.

"But, as with all these reports, the McCanns refuse to raise their hopes until it has been investigated fully."

The witness who saw the girl, who does not want to be named, said she "could have been Madeleine" and described her as "very agitated and sobbing". He added: "I was about to speak to the child when the man put his hand over her mouth and shoved her into the car."

He said the couple were speaking a foreign language and yet he heard the girl cry out in English.

"My blood ran cold when I heard her cry, 'I want my Daddy'," he said. Meanwhile, the McCanns have been warned that unless their daughter is found they could remain under suspicion for up to 15 years.

* Again, the report of this 'sighting' did not appear until 11 days after the event. Bosnian police immediately rejected the account and said that no sighting had been reported to any police officers or police stations.

The girl was located on 14/11/07 and revealed to be Tea Dedic, a local Bosnian girl, aged 3.

The Daily Mail had passed on the registration number of the car to Bosnian police and they traced the car to an address in Ljubuski, a town seven miles from Medugorje.

 

Tea's father, dentist Slavko Dedic, said he and his wife had gone shopping in Medugorje and had put Tea in their car and driven home when she threw a tantrum.

Officers said they were satisfied with the explanation.

 

They said Tea did not speak English, and suggested that the Irish tourist, who has remained anonymous, must have simply been mistaken.

 

A police source told the Daily Mail: "After being given the car registration plate by the Daily Mail, Bosnian police went within the hour to an address in Ljubuski - and found the VW Golf.

 

"Tea is very blonde. Without a doubt that is the child. The family are happy to issue a picture of Tea to make perfectly clear she is not Madeleine McCann."

Spokesman for Madeleine's parents Gerry and Kate, Clarence Mitchell, thanked the Daily Mail for helping to trace the car.  

17/11/07

Central Portugal

'Detectives' working for the Spanish agency Metodo 3, hired by the McCanns, claim another sighting of Madeleine on 05 May 2007, two days after her disappearance. They claim a witness saw a woman 'bundle' a blonde girl, matching Madeleine's description, into a car containing a man. Another man was standing beside.
 
The sighting, which allegedly took place in central Portugal, 90 miles from Praia da Luz, then develops further over the next couple of days. The witness is reported as having identified the woman in the sighting as Michaela Walczuch, Robert Murat's girlfriend, from a photograph provided by Metodo 3 'detectives'. Robert Murat and Luis Antonio, Ms Walczuch's ex-partner, are then drawn into the speculative story as being the two men who were at the scene.
 
It is revealed that Luis Antonio used to work in the pool at the Ocean Club complex and this, according to Metodo 3, enabled him not only to watch the comings and goings at the apartments but also to get Michaela Walczuch access the club grounds. Why she would need access to the club grounds when the McCanns' apartment was outside the Ocean Club is not explained.
 
On 21/11/07, the sighting starts to become very confused. Now, it appears the sighting, two days after Madeleine's disappearance, is being atributed to an unnamed Portuguese trucker. In addition, the location has changed from central Portugal to the side of a quiet road, in daylight, on the outskirts of Silves, a town 25 miles inland from Praia da Luz.
 
The trucker claims he witnessed the 'hand over' of Madeleine and recognised Michaela Walczuch from a photograph shown to him by the Metodo 3 'detectives'. However, it is almost certain he would have seen her face in newspapers a number of times before, due to her relationship with Robert Murat.
 
Suddenly joining forces with this sighting, is the 'Isabel Gonzalez sighting' that is listed above for 30/05/07, which newspapers appear to be claiming took place on 15/06/07 (possibly date she actually reported it). Gonzalez still claims that she saw 'Madeleine' being dragged across the street by a Moroccan-looking woman.
 
Although, she now adds that she recognised one of the "European-looking" couple, she claims to have seen after the Madeleine incident, as being Michaela Walczuch. She claims to have made the identification when Ms Walczuch's photograph was shown on TV, in connection to the Silves sighting. She added that she particularly remembered the couple as they looked European and "completely out of place" in a small Portuguese town. Obviously it did not occur to her that she, and her husband, matched that description equally well.
 
But Portuguese police sources said they had established Ms Walczuch's movements and that she could not be involved. It is understood the 34-year-old mother was at a Jehovah's Witness meeting in Lagos near to Praia da Luz when Madeleine disappeared.

With thanks to Nigel at McCann Files

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