The purpose of this site is for information and a record of Gerry McCann's Blog Archives. As most people will appreciate GM deleted all past blogs from the official website. Hopefully this Archive will be helpful to anyone who is interested in Justice for Madeleine Beth McCann. Many Thanks, Pamalam

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Dossier Of Sightings Released To UK Press 2 *

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The Portuguese police files of sightings

The Portuguese police files, containing alleged sightings of Madeleine, continues to be milked by the UK press...

New File On Missing Madeleine Is 'Gold Dust', 03 March 2010
New File On Missing Madeleine Is 'Gold Dust' Sky News

Roddy Mansfield, Sky News Online
12:58pm UK, Wednesday March 03, 2010


A newly released file on the disappearance of Madeleine McCann is "gold dust" and could lead to a breakthrough, her parents' spokesman has said.

Clarence Mitchell told Sky News it was disgraceful that information about possible sightings of Madeleine has only emerged now after sitting in a box since 2008, when the case was closed by Portuguese police.

"The McCanns have been tearing their hair out for a long time, they're very frustrated this information has been sitting in a file since July 2008," he said.

"This information is gold dust to them. Kate and Gerry need all of it and they want a full review of all the information it contains.

"Our investigators are working at times with one hand tied behind their back.

"Any leads must come through Portugal but they must come to Kate and Gerry.

The McCanns believe the new file could provide a breakthrough in the case
The McCanns believe the new file could provide a breakthrough in the case

"Our investigators will now work very hard and three years on it will hopefully lead to the breakthrough Kate and Gerry have been waiting for."

Sky's crime correspondent Martin Brunt said the McCanns first became aware of the file after they won a court battle to ban publication of a book that claimed their daughter was dead.

It was during this case that the detective in charge of the case admitted that new information had come in since the investigation had been closed but was sitting in a box marked "not relevant".

The new evidence is available because four newspapers applied to the state prosecutor in the Algarve.

Although the McCanns were aware of the file's existence since the court hearing, they were shocked to learn of the extent of it.

One report mentions a British man called George who saw a small, distressed blonde girl being dragged along a road to Faro airport in Portugal on the night Madeleine went missing.

Taryn Dryfhout claims she saw a girl similar to Madeleine in a store in New Zealand
Taryn Dryfhout claims she saw a girl similar to Madeleine in a store in New Zealand

The file also contains details of a sighting in New Zealand of a girl who looks like Madeleine, seven months after her disappearance.

TV3 reporter Dave Gooselink told Sky News the girl had a British accent but that New Zealand police no longer have the original footage.

Shop assistant Taryn Dryfhout, who reported the possible sighting, said she "absolutely believes" it was Madeleine.

"It was her, she was just so much like her. It was quite a recent event at the time, we'd seen her face all over the news and I was just taken aback," she said.

"She had an English accent and told me her name was Hayley.

"She was quite apprehensive to talk to me and stammered over her words when she was trying to think of her name."

Mr Mitchell refused to comment on the New Zealand incident and stressed the McCanns do not want a "media frenzy" surrounding one sighting.

"Any other sightings that have credible information that can be checked, our investigators are working on it," he said.



Transcript - Clarence Mitchell interview

By Nigel Moore

Clarence Mitchell: They are very frustrated, errr... that this information, errr... has been sitting in a file apparently unregarded, untouched, errr... since July of 2008, errm... many potential sightings in there; many of them, of course, may not be relevant to the search for Madeleine but the only people looking for her at present are the private investigators - the former British detectives - errr... working for Kate and Gerry. This information is gold dust to them; they need it; they need all of it, and Kate and Gerry want to see a full review of all the evidence that's held by the Portuguese and it... it is... it is, well, frankly, disgraceful that it's taken this long for this amount of information to come out, errm... even at the behest of British journalists seeking it, as well. Errm... That should have come to the investigators very early on.

N.Zealand Security Guard: Madeleine Sighting, 03 March 2010
N.Zealand Security Guard: Madeleine Sighting Sky News

Mar 3, 2010

Security guard, Taryn Dryfhout, in New Zealand has been speaking about how she saw a young girl she believed to have been Madeleine McCann in shop in Dunedin- seven months after her disappearance.

(00:00:28)



Transcript

By Nigel Moore

Taryn Dryfhout: It was her, she just was so much like her, errm... yeah, I mean it was... it was quite a recent, current event at the time, so we'd seen her face all over the news and things and I was just taken aback. It was... it was her, yeah.

(...)

TD: She had an English accent, as well, and, errm... she told me that her name was Hayley and was quite apprehensive to talk to me and, sort of, stammered over, errr... her words when she was trying to think of her name, errm... yeah.

Madeleine McCann police failed to follow up New Zealand sighting, 03 March 2010
Madeleine McCann police failed to follow up New Zealand sighting Liverpool Daily Post

Mar 3, 2010

Portuguese detectives failed to ask for any follow-up investigation after a young girl resembling Madeleine McCann was caught on CCTV in New Zealand, it emerged today.

New Zealand Police said their file remained open following the possible sighting of the missing child in Dunedin in December 2007.

Details of the incident are included among 2,000 pages of previously secret case documents held by Portuguese police which were released to British newspapers today.

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They detail dozens of possible sightings of Madeleine after she disappeared from her family’s holiday flat in Praia da Luz, southern Portugal, in May 2007, just before her fourth birthday.

New Zealand Police confirmed today they investigated a report that a woman saw a little girl who looked just like her in a Dunedin shop.

Officers obtained CCTV footage of the child hand-in-hand with a stout man wearing a white t-shirt and black shorts.

Inspector David Campbell, Acting Southern District Commander, said in a statement: "Police were unable to obtain any further information or ongoing lines of inquiry.

"The file was forwarded to Interpol and this is correct procedure under international agreements. The lead jurisdiction, in this case Portugal, directs how the case progresses and has not asked NZ Police for any follow-up to date.

"The file has remained open ever since."

Other leads in the newly-released Portuguese police dossier include a report of a small blonde girl being dragged along the road to Faro airport in the Algarve - an hour's drive from Praia da Luz - on the night Madeleine vanished.

Another details how a young girl who looked like the missing child was seen being held at gunpoint on a French motorway by a half-naked man in August 2008.

All the information should be released to the private detectives hired by Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, their spokesman Clarence Mitchell said.

Mr Mitchell said: "Kate and Gerry have made it clear that they were shocked to see the lack of follow-up work done by the Portuguese police since the investigation was shelved.

"All the information in these files must go to the private investigators as they are the only people still looking for Madeleine."

The McCanns, both 41 and from Rothley, Leicestershire, spoke last month of their frustration that police had failed to investigate new leads in their daughter's disappearance.

Mr McCann said: "There are certainly instances where information which we think is very credible and worthy of further investigation has not been actioned.

"We're gutted, it's absolutely shocking and difficult. We're trying our absolute best, Madeleine's still missing, and as we say the perpetrator's still there.

"We're not saying they are the leads that will result in finding her. But if you don't investigate information when it comes in, you will never solve it."

His wife added: "It's heartbreaking, to be honest."

The woman who reported the possible sighting in New Zealand said she "absolutely believes" it was Madeleine.

Taryn Dryfhout was working on the tills at the Warehouse discount store in Dunedin when she saw the girl with a man, a woman and a boy.

She said the girl "looked just like" Madeleine and spoke with an English accent.

Ms Dryfhout told broadcaster TVNZ’s ONE News: "She told me that her name was Hayley and was quite apprehensive... and sort of stammered over her words when she was trying to think of her name. She was just very shy and afraid."

The shop worker said the adults with the children were "a little bit suspicious" and added that the woman seemed to be in a hurry to leave when she spoke to her.

Ms Dryfhout said it was disappointing that her possible sighting was not fully followed up.

She told the broadcaster: "I absolutely believe it was her. I have no doubt in my mind."



Transcript

By Nigel Moore

Clarence Mitchell: Well, this was a file of information; it runs to some 2,000 pages, which apparently the Portuguese were maintaining for any lead that came in after the case was formally shelved by them, in July of 2008. Errm... What appears to be the case is that they've accepted all these bits and pieces of information; sightings, images but they don't... they haven't done anything about it. Most of it appears to be dismissed as not relevant to the investigation. Now, Kate and Gerry don't expect the police to follow absolutely everything up because clearly some things can be dismissed very quickly; they're... they're either plain wrong, or malicious, whatever but where there is a credible lead, surely it can't be dismissed as irrelevant until it's investigated and it would appear, in some cases, other police forces from around the world were sufficiently concerned about a sighting to send it through Interpol to the Portuguese and yet nothing was done. It... that... that surely is... is scandalous.

(...)

Reporter: And the one image in particular that... that all the papers seem to be carrying is of the... the girl in the supermarket in New Zealand. That...

CM: This... this was a sighting of a child, with a man, in Dunedin, in New Zealand, in December 2007; round about six months after Madeleine was taken. We don't know if that's Madeleine or not. Clearly it was sufficently concerning for the New Zealand authorities to pass it on to Interpol, to pass it to the police in Portugal; which was how it ended up in the file. Has anything been done about that? We don't think so. So that's another one that, of course, the private investigators will be focussing on but I'm not... I'm stressing, we're not saying that def... is more significant than any of the others. There's a lot of information there; this will take time and, bear in mind, that was two and a half years ago.

Exclusive: New clues lead McCann private eyes to an old deserted shack, 04 March 2010
Exclusive: New clues lead McCann private eyes to an old deserted shack Daily Star

Private detectives say Madeleine may have been kept in a shack

By Jerry Lawton
4th March 2010


MADELEINE McCann was snatched by "gipsies" and disguised with a black wig, it has been claimed.


Private detectives say she may have been kept in a shack.

And they claim she could have been held for months just 30 miles from the spot where she was abducted.

Investigators homed in on an isolated orange grove after mounting a surveillance operation on a woman cleaner.

She was said to have been spotted by a Brit holidaymaker outside the McCanns' apartment hours before Madeleine, then three, disappeared.

Another UK tourist claims she saw the same woman 16 months later in the nearby resort of Carvoeiro on Portugal's Algarve, holding the hand of a girl she was "100%" sure was Madeleine.

The child's locks were hidden by a black wig.

Jean Godwin, from Widnes, Cheshire, said: "It was a short wig cut in a bob style and was very thick."

"The wig was shiny and unnatural-looking and out of keeping with her very pale complexion and fair eyebrows."

"What I saw really concerned me and I could not sleep that night."

"I had my husband take me back to look again."

"I am convinced that the little girl I saw that morning was Madeleine."

"I have been asked how certain I am. I will say I am 100% certain."

Detectives identified one of two "gipsy looking" women with the girl as holiday home cleaner Yvone Albino, who has no young children.

They followed her to an abandoned shack in an orange grove near Silves, 30 miles from Praia da Luz where Madeleine disappeared in May 2007.

There they found a white Citroen Berlingo van owned by Jorges Martins and Alice Silveira, with a rag doll on the front seat.

Disguised as fruit pickers, detectives staked out the shack and secretly watched as Albino met up with Martins, a teacher.

They grew suspicious when they allegedly saw Martins, who also has no young children, looking at shoes for a little girl.

Brit holidaymaker Jeni Weinberger, 38, claimed she had seen the teacher and the cleaner together near the McCanns' apartment around the time of the abduction.

The private eyes, hired by Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry, both 41, passed the information to Portuguese police but they found no sign of a child at the deserted shack.

Albino denied any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance.

Martins said the doll seen in his car had been given to him by his pupils several years ago.

Portuguese police said they could find no evidence linking the pair to the investigation.

Shop girl who 'saw Madeleine McCann' is quizzed, 04 March 2010
Shop girl who 'saw Madeleine McCann' is quizzed Daily Star

By Jerry Lawton
4th March 2010


A SHOP girl who claims she saw Madeleine McCann in New Zealand was yesterday finally interviewed by police.


Taryn Dryfhout, 24, said she had "no doubt" the youngster she spotted in her Warehouse store in Dunedin in late 2007 was Madeleine.

Detectives quizzed her after the Daily star revealed the sighting, details of which had been tucked contacted her manager and the police, but heard nothing more until the Daily star published the sighting – prompting officers to contact her.

"They started asking me questions I should have been asked at the time," she said.

Insp David Campbell, acting southern district commander, said they had forwarded security footage from the store to Interpol.

Daily Star: Snatcher gipsies disguised Maddie using black wig (paper edition), 04 March 2010

Daily Star, 04 March 2010 (click image to enlarge)
Daily Star, 04 March 2010 (click image to enlarge)

Daily Star Says... Maddie's cop-out, 04 March 2010
Daily Star Says... Maddie's cop-out Daily Star

4th March 2010

IT'S clearer by the day that the Madeleine McCann investigation was a massive botch job.

Portuguese police failed to follow up reams of promising leads.

Witnesses across the globe were so convinced they'd seen the missing tot that they reported their sightings.

But time and again their frantic calls fell on deaf ears.

Even now, people such as New Zealander Taryn Dryfhout "absolutely believe" they saw Maddie.

But no-one in charge of the case has ever seriously probed their concerns.

Surely you can only solve a case by exhausting all avenues.

This has not been done.

Those in charge of the police investigation should hang their heads in shame. They have failed Maddie.

The least they can now do is renew their efforts to trace her.

And they can start by looking back at the dusty police files they ignored for two years.

Madeleine 'held in remote shack', 04 March 2010
Madeleine 'held in remote shack' Daily Express

By Nick Fagge
Thursday March 4, 2010


MADELEINE McCann was held captive at a rundown hut in an isolated orange grove just a few miles from where she disappeared, investigators believe.

The new theory followed sightings by British tourists of a blonde girl in an "unnatural looking" black wig which prompted a major surveillance operation by private detectives working for the missing youngster's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann.

The child – described as "100 per cent Madeleine" – was seen with two "gypsy" women in the town of Carvoeiro 30 miles from the Algarve holiday resort from where she disappeared aged almost four in 2007.

One of the women was seen by another British tourist acting suspiciously outside the McCanns' apartment on the day she vanished.

Despite frantic efforts by the UK investigators and Portuguese police, the little girl has never been traced.

And incredibly, no public appeal has ever been made to track down the girl or the second mystery woman she was with.

The sightings only became known after Portuguese prosecutors released a 2,000-page dossier this week containing hundreds of new leads, most of which have never been followed up. One of the tourists was Jean Godwin, 56, from Widnes, Cheshire. She said she spotted Madeleine with the women in September 2008.

"This child was a young girl, she was in the middle of the two women and was holding the hand of each woman on either side," she added.

"One of the things that drew my attention to her was her eyes. They were wide open and my attention was drawn to the large irises in her eyes.

"The child was wearing what was clearly a black wig. It was a short wig, cut in a bob style and was very thick. The wig was shiny and unnatural looking and out of keeping with her very pale complexion and fair eyebrows.

"As they were virtually level with me the younger woman suddenly put her right arm across her body and used her upper arm to conceal the right hand side of the child's face.

"I could not sleep that night. I am convinced that the little girl I saw that morning was Madeleine."

Private investigators working for Kate and Gerry McCann, both 41, from Rothley, Leics, launched a major operation into the sightings and discovered the identity of one of the two women.

The Daily Express knows the name of the woman but cannot reveal it for legal reasons.

Was this rag doll given to Maddie by her captors?, 04 March 2010
Was this rag doll given to Maddie by her captors? The Sun

Evidence ... toy linked to woman spotted with Maddie lookalike

By ANTONELLA LAZZERI, in Portimao, Portugal
Published: Today (04 March 2010)

THIS little girl's rag doll could have been given to Madeleine McCann by those who snatched her, investigators believe.

The cuddly plaything was among evidence suggesting Maddie was held at a remote house - but Portuguese cops abandoned the line of inquiry.

Private detectives hired by the missing tot's parents Kate and Gerry found the white bungalow in an orange orchard outside Silves, Portugal, after trailing a woman seen earlier with a Maddie lookalike.

They staked the place out and spotted the doll and a child's drawing.

Quizzed ... Yvone Albino

Portuguese police on the Maddie case were tipped off, but the McCanns camp claim they did not fully investigate.

A source close to the McCanns said yesterday: "This is one of the strongest leads there's been in the hunt for Maddie.

"There was credible evidence at the orchard that needed proper investigation by the Portuguese - that never happened."

The private investigation began after British tourist Jean Godwin, 56, contacted the Find Madeleine hotline.

She reported seeing two woman with a girl she was "100 per cent sure" was Maddie in Carvoeiro on September 7, 2008.

Mrs Godwin, of Widnes, Cheshire, said the women were holding the hands of a "gaunt" little girl, who was wearing a "black wig to disguise her fair hair".

She was struck by the large irises in the girl's eyes - a feature of Maddie in photos.

Staked out ... the house in a Portuguese orchard

When the women realised Mrs Godwin was looking they hid the child's face. She said: "I'm convinced it was Madeleine."

One of the two women was identified as holiday home cleaner Yvone Albino. She lives near Silves - which is 30 miles from the Praia da Luz resort where Maddie, three, disappeared on May 3, 2007.

Also a woman was seen passing a child in a blanket to a man in a car on May 5, 2007 - in Silves.

Retired care worker Mrs Godwin confirmed Mr Albino was one of the women she saw from a photo.

The photo was also shown to British witnesses who saw a couple acting suspiciously near the McCanns' holiday apartment. Several identified Mrs Albino.

Teacher Jorge Vitorino Cabral Martins - who was seen meeting Mrs Albino at the orchard property several times - was also placed in Praia da Luz by several witnesses.

McCann investigators saw Mr Martins discard a "child's drawing done by someone aged four to five". They also photographed the rag doll on the front seat of his white Citroen Berlingo van.

During a surveillance operation, Mr Martins was seen shopping for clothes and shoes for a little girl.

Neither he nor his girlfriend Maria Alice dos Santos Silveira have young children or grandchildren.

McCann 'tecs visited the Silves house pretending to be buyers. They were convinced the other woman seen with the girl was inside but no one answered.

Martins ... with girlfriend

Dave Edgar, head of the inquiry team, sent a report to Portuguese cops. It lies, with more than 50 other sightings of Maddie, in a dossier filed away at a police HQ.

It was obtained by The Sun and revealed yesterday.

Cops confronted Mrs Albino, who denied being the woman Mrs Godwin saw. A police report states: "Nothing of interest was found."

Martins and Silveira denied having anything to do with Maddie's abduction.

He said the doll was given to him by his students. Mrs Silveira said the drawing had belonged to her 28-year-old daughter.

That was as far as the police took the matter. But the McCann team are still working on the lead. The child's drawing has been sent off for forensic analysis.

Kate and Gerry, both 41, of Rothley, Leics, insist they will never give up looking for their daughter.

The source added: "After Dave Edgar sent his report to the Portuguese police our investigators heard nothing more.

"It is now clear from the files that very little was done to rule these people out as suspects.

"But it was very significant information and remains an open investigation."

  • A WOMAN whose possible sighting of Maddie at a store in Dunedin, New Zealand, was revealed by The Sun yesterday has been interviewed again by police.

    Checkout worker Taryn Dryfhout is angry she was not asked the questions before. She said: "They wanted descriptions of the people and how they paid. I'm sure it was Maddie. She was very afraid."

    The girl was snapped on store CCTV in December 2007.
  • New Zealand Police: Child not missing British girl, 04 March 2010
    New Zealand Police: Child not missing British girl New Zealand Police

    New Zealand Police: Media Statement, 04 March 2010

    4 March, 2010 - 18:10 [05:10AM GMT]

    Dunedin Police have identified the child and family thought by a retail assistant to be missing British girl Madeleine McCann. She is not the missing British girl.

    Acting Southern Police District Commander Inspector Dave Campbell said police will not name the family or provide any details of their identity.

    We ask that media outlets remove the image portraying the child and family from their coverage including websites to protect the privacy of the family.

    "New Zealand Police are mindful of the stress on the McCann family from possible sightings of their daughter worldwide," Inspector Campbell said.

    Police are making no further comment at this time.

    ENDS

    Child seen in NZ not missing British girl, 04 March 2010
    Child seen in NZ not missing British girl TVNZ

    Published: 6:17PM Thursday March 04, 2010 [05:17AM GMT]
    Source: ONE News


    Dunedin police say a child seen in New Zealand and thought to be Madeleine McCann is not the missing British girl.

    Acting Southern Police District Commander Inspector Dave Campbell says police will not name the family or provide any details of their identity.

    "New Zealand Police are mindful of the stress on the McCann family from possible sightings of their daughter worldwide," Campbell says.

    Following TVNZ's exclusive interview with the woman who claimed to have seen the missing British girl, questions were being asked about the way New Zealand police handled the possible sighting.

    Taryn Dryfhout was working as a checkout operator at Warehouse store in south Dunedin in late 2007 when a family of a man, woman and a boy and girl came to the checkout.

    "As soon as they entered the checkout I felt like it was her (Madeleine McCann) - she was blonde, quite petite and had very big eyes. It was a striking resemblance to the pictures of Madeleine," says Dryfhout.

    She remembers a lot about that meeting just over two years ago but not as clearly as she would have if she had been asked about it the day after.

    "I'm not really much help to them after two years. I've had quite a few operations in the last couple of years and I've had a baby. My memories are fuzzy, I can't tell them the things I would have been able to tell them at the time," Dryfhout says.

    She says the police seemed sceptical and dismissive.

    A female officer came into the Warehouse, took the security footage and told her the image was inconclusive. No statement was taken and that was the last Dryfhout heard of the matter.

    It has been revealed that once the information got to Portuguese authorities, it was put into a box marked "not relevant".

    Meanwhile, Madeleine's family are still just wanting answers about their missing girl.

    "If anybody in New Zealand, particularly in the Dunedin area feels that they may have seen a child answering Madeleine's description as well, please tell the local police - it's absolutely the right thing to do," says Clarence Mitchell, McCann family spokesman.

    Girl in shop image 'not Madeleine', 04 March 2010
    Girl in shop image 'not Madeleine' The Press Association

    (UKPA) – 3 hours ago (approx 06:00am)

    A young girl resembling Madeleine McCann captured on CCTV film in a New Zealand shop is not the missing girl, police has said.

    Officers in the country said they had identified the girl in the image, which was published in a series of British newspapers yesterday as a potential sighting of Madeleine.

    A statement from New Zealand's National Police headquarters said: "Police have identified the child and family thought by a retail assistant to be missing British girl Madeleine McCann. She is not the missing British girl."

    The CCTV footage was taken in a Dunedin shop in December 2007, and showed a child hand-in-hand with a stout man wearing a white T-shirt and black shorts.

    Details of the incident were included among 2,000 pages of previously secret case documents held by Portuguese police which were released to British newspapers this week. They contain dozens of possible sightings of Madeleine after she disappeared from her family's holiday flat in Praia da Luz, southern Portugal, in May 2007, just before her fourth birthday.

    New Zealand police said previously they had investigated the Dunedin image, but were unable to get any further information.

    Acting Southern Police District Commander Inspector Dave Campbell said he was not going to identify the girl in the picture.

    He added: "New Zealand Police are mindful of the stress on the McCann family from possible sightings of their daughter worldwide."

    Other leads in the newly-released Portuguese police dossier include a report of a small blonde girl being dragged along the road to Faro airport in the Algarve - an hour's drive from Praia da Luz - on the night Madeleine vanished.

    Another details how a young girl who looked like the missing child was seen being held at gunpoint on a French motorway by a half-naked man in August 2008.

    'I'm convinced the little girl I saw was Madeleine McCann': The riddle of Maddie and 'the fat gipsy women', 04 March 2010
    'I'm convinced the little girl I saw was Madeleine McCann': The riddle of Maddie and 'the fat gipsy women' Daily Mail

    By ARTHUR MARTIN
    Last updated at 8:01 AM on 04th March 2010


    Private investigators searching for Madeleine McCann mounted a surveillance operation amid fears that she was being held prisoner in a run-down farmhouse, secret police files reveal.

    They acted after a British holidaymaker spotted a 'gaunt' blonde girl wearing a black wig being dragged by 'gipsy women' 30 miles from where Madeleine was snatched.

    Jean Godwin, 56, a retired care home worker, said the girl she saw on the Algarve was '100 per cent Madeleine McCann'.

    Yvone Albino, a cleaner from Silves

    Seen with a girl: McCanns' investigators believe Yvone Albino, a cleaner from Silves, was seen outside the McCanns' apartment in May 2007


    One of the women spotted in Carvoeiro by Mrs Godwin was seen by another British tourist acting suspiciously outside the McCanns' apartment on the day the youngster vanished from Praia da Luz.

    The evidence prompted investigators to follow their suspect to an isolated farmhouse in an orange grove near the town of Silves, north of Portimao. In the following months she paid several visits to the property, a holiday home owned by a teacher and his partner whom the inquiry team deemed to be 'suspicious'.

    Their concerns were raised when they discovered a white Citroen Berlingo with a child's doll on the back seat and a child's drawing among rubbish bags – even though the couple did not have young children.

    They also spotted the man buying clothes suitable for a girl of five – Madeleine's age at the time. But surveillance was eventually wound down and the child was never found.

    The operation began in 2008 after Mrs Godwin, from Widnes, Cheshire, rang the 'Find Madeleine' hotline and gave her suspicions to private investigators. By this stage, the official police inquiry into the disappearance on May 3, 2007, had been closed.

    Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry continued to employ private detectives in the hope of finding their daughter but these investigators have no legal powers to force suspects to talk to them. The sightings were passed to the Portuguese police who deemed them irrelevant and promptly archived the reports.

    Details of the evidence are contained in a 2,000-page police dossier finally published by the Portuguese authorities after requests from newspapers including the Daily Mail. It contains the testimony of Mrs Godwin, who claims she spotted Madeleine in September 2008.

    She said: 'This was a young girl, in the middle of the two women and holding the hand of each. Her eyes were wide open and my attention was drawn to the large irises.

    'The child was wearing what was clearly a black wig. It was short, cut in a bob style and very thick. The wig was shiny and unnatural looking and out of keeping with her very pale complexion and fair eyebrows.

    'I would say she was about 3ft 1in tall and about five years of age. She was very thin and I would describe her as malnourished. Her cheeks looked gaunt. I think she had a bump on her nose.

    'I am convinced that the little girl I saw that morning was Madeleine. I have been asked how certain I am. I will say I am 100 per cent sure.'

    Mrs Godwin described the first woman as being an 'obese' size 30, in her mid-to-late 40s with 'dirty and unkempt' red hair. The second woman was around 60, with unwashed brown hair, and even fatter.

    The McCanns' investigators believe the red-haired woman was Yvone Albino, a cleaner from Silves. Another witness, Jeni Weinberger, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, said she saw a woman resembling Mrs Albino outside the McCanns' apartment in May 2007.

    Mrs Albino, who has two grown-up sons, met teacher Jorge Martins and his partner Maria Silveira at their house in the orange grove.

    David Edgar, a private investigator working for the McCanns, described their movements as 'suspicious'.

    Portuguese police confronted Mrs Albino, who said she knew nothing about either sighting and denied any contact with young children. Officers found the house deserted. The woman with Mrs Albino in Carvoeiro was never identified.

    Mr Martins and Miss Silveira have never been accused of any crime by police. He told police the doll was given to him by his students several years earlier.

    The McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: 'It's clear that our investigators have made considerable efforts to follow up leads but without having full access to the files and co-operation from the Portuguese police.'

    'She came into my store'

    With thanks to Nigel at McCann Files

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