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

Note: This site does not belong to the McCanns. It belongs to Pamalam. If you wish to contact the McCanns directly, please use the contact/email details campaign@findmadeleine.com    

Lagos Marina - The 'Sighting' & The 'Vision' *

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PJ Files: Documents relative to the George Brooks/Burke sighting

Lagos Marina

1) George Brooks, an ex-pat from Liverpool, claims to have seen a suspicious couple carrying a child, near Lagos marina, 7/8 hours after Madeleine had been reported missing. For reasons unknown, in all early media reports he is referred to as 'George Burke'. Despite the claims of many of these reports, it appears that Mr Brooks never made an official statement to the Portuguese police.

2) Meanwhile, a friend of Kate McCann's aunt and uncle has a friend that claims to have had a strong vision that Madeleine was on a boat with a man in the marina in Lagos...

  The George Brooks/Burke sighting

  Map of George Brooks/Burke sighting at Lagos marina

Map of George Brooks/Burke sighting at Lagos Marina

With thanks to News Winnow for map (click image to enlarge)

  Pizza Hut at Lagos marina

Pizza Hut at Lagos marina

Pizza Hut is situated on the upper floor of this row of shops (on the extreme right of this photo)

  Lagos marina, aerial view looking towards the beach

Lagos marina, aerial view looking towards the beach

  Lagos marina, aerial view looking from the beach

Aerial view of Lagos marina from beach side

In a nutshell: Complete media coverage of the George Brooks/Burke sighting
In a nutshell: Complete media coverage of the George Brooks/Burke sighting

26 January 2012

What follows are all the press published details of the sighting. The complete articles, from which these extracts have been taken, appear below this section.



05 May 2007


Intriguingly, a Briton who runs a company in the Algarve has told police he spotted a couple carrying a young child early yesterday.

George Burke, from Liverpool, was driving home from nearby Lagos around 6am 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.'

- Daily Mail



05 May 2007

Meanwhile British tourist George Burke claimed he had seen a couple carrying a young child early yesterday morning. Mr Burke, from Liverpool, was driving back from Lagos, just a few miles from Praia de Luz. He said: "I couldn't see them clearly as it was dark and windy - but I thought it was odd. They scurried down a side road."

- The Sun



05 May 2007

The police are checking out one possible sighting about eight hours after Madeleine disappeared. Just before dawn a motorist said that his car headlights picked out a couple on the road; they had a child with them and, according to him, it looked as if they were trying to avoid being seen.

- Sky News bulletin



06 May 2007

Police are also investigating a British businessman's revelation that he spotted a couple carrying a young child just hours after Maddie disappeared.

Liverpool-born George Burke told cops he saw a couple carrying a young child at around 6am, seven hours after the abduction, as he drove home from nearby Lagos.

When his headlights lit them, he said they "scurried down a side road and out of sight".

- News of the World



07 May 2007

A British expat told yesterday how he saw a "suspicious" couple with a child like Maddy rushing towards a railway station not long after the little girl disappeared.

Supermarket owner George Burke, from Liverpool, said that a "vicious looking" man and woman were carrying the child, eight miles from where she was abducted.

The sighting was about eight hours after Maddy had vanished from her bed at the Ocean Club resort as she slept beside her two-year-old twin brother and sister.

Father-of-two Mr Burke said he was driving home just before 6am on Friday when he caught the couple in his headlights.

"It was very, very dark, " he said. "It was hard to make out exactly what the couple looked like, but through the gloom I could definitely see a very suspicious-looking man and woman, carrying a child who fitted Madeleine's description.

"Though there was nobody else on the road, they were hurrying across a dual carriageway that leads straight to the train station and marina in Lagos.

"The woman was in her thirties, darkhaired and slim. The man, also in his thirties, was less than six feet tall and slightly stocky.

He had shoulder-length hair and looked quite tanned. They did not look like tourists and they certainly didn't seem to be British.

"You could tell from their posture that they were trying to carry the child without anyone seeing it and they were extremely disturbed when I caught them in my headlights.

"It was only after I returned home to my house in Burgau, along the coast from Praia da Luz, that I realised the importance of what I had seen. I quickly rang the police."

Portuguese police alerted airports, ports and border controls several hours after the alarm was raised, before cordoning the area.

Helped by Mr Burke's description, they have built a profile of the man they believe is their prime suspect. Mr Burke said they told him not to tell the media what he had seen but he decided to break his silence to help to track down the kidnapper.

"I'm the father of two teenagers myself, " he added, "but you can't begin to understand the agony and the distress that the child's parents are going through."

- Daily Express



07 May 2007

Last night an expatriate British businessman described how he saw a couple carrying a young child eight hours after Madeleine went missing.

George Burke, originally from Liverpool, was driving home at 6am on Friday after dropping his son at a station when the man and woman were caught in his headlights and immediately scurried out of sight. He said he thought nothing more about the incident until he heard about Madeleine's disappearance, after which he contacted police.

- Daily Mail



07 May 2007

Police are also investigating reports that a "suspicious" couple were spotted with a blonde child in nearby Lagos on Friday morning.

British businessman George Burke, who has lived near the resort for 16 years after moving from Liverpool, said they "scurried" down a road towards a railway station. He added: "It was 6am and pitch black I couldn't be certain it was her."

- Daily Mirror



07 May 2007

A British expat yesterday described seeing a "suspicious" couple with a child fitting Maddy's description eight hours after the toddler was snatched.

George Burke said he saw a "vicious" looking man and woman carrying the child towards a railway station eight miles from where she was abducted.

- Daily Star



08 May 2007

One man from Liverpool, George Burke, said that he had seen a couple with a girl who fitted Madeleine's description eight hours after her disappearance, again close to the marina and the railway station at Lagos, which is a 10-minute drive from Praia da Luz.

- The Guardian



28 November 2007

A British expat says he saw Madeleine McCann being dragged towards a marina by a "very suspicious" couple, just hours after she vanished, it was reported last night.

Businessman George Burke says he saw a small girl resembling Madeleine being hauled along by a "vicious looking" man and woman, as he drove past Lagos marina in the early morning of May 4, just eight hours after she vanished.

He said: "It was dark and they were hurrying towards the marina. There was no one else around at the time and they looked very suspicious."

Mr Burke, who is from Liverpool but lives in Portugal, reported the sighting to Portuguese police but said they did not take him seriously. He is now being quizzed by the McCanns' private detectives who say the sighting may be crucial.

- Daily Express



28 November 2007

Version 1

A British expat insists he saw Madeleine McCann hours after she vanished - being cruelly dragged towards a marina by a couple.

George Burke said a small girl, who bore a remarkable resemblance to Madeleine, was being hauled along by a "vicious-looking" man and a woman.

He added: "It was dark and they were hurrying towards the marina. There was no-one else around at the time and they looked very suspicious."

George saw the couple and the child while driving past Lagos marina and rail station at 6am on the morning of May 4.

He told Portuguese police after news of Madeleine's disappearance was announced.

Astonishingly, they did not take his report seriously. But now he is to quizzed again by the McCanns' private detectives, who say the sighting may be crucial.

Version 2

A British businessman's sighting of Madeleine McCann near a marina eight hours after she vanished has convinced private detectives she WAS smuggled out of Portugal by sea.

George Burke insists he saw a vicious-looking man and a woman dragging a Madeleine lookalike along a road that leads to Lagos marina.

But investigators believe Portuguese police who interviewed the dad-of-two failed to take the sighting seriously.

A source said: "The private investigators are now concentrating on Lagos and the marina.

"What Mr Burke saw could be incredibly valuable.

"He was concerned enough to call the police and they eventually followed up on his information.

"Now the investigators want to talk to Mr Burke. There is a strong chance Madeleine was taken by boat from the marina and is still alive somewhere."

George, who is from Liverpool but now lives in Portugal, saw the couple with the girl as he drove past the marina at about 6am on May 4. He said: "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."

Kate and Gerry McCann have always believed the four-year-old was probably taken out of Portugal by sea to North Africa.

George contacted police as soon as he got home but border and port authorities were not alerted for another 12 hours.

- Daily Mirror



29 November 2007

The latest "sighting" is from a British expat who says he saw Madeleine being dragged towards a marina by a "very suspicious" couple eight hours after she vanished.

Businessman George Burke says he saw a small girl resembling Madeleine being hauled along by a "vicious-looking" man and woman as he drove past Lagos marina – five miles from Praia da Luz – in the early morning of May 4.

- Daily Express



11 August 2008

Detectives also failed to question George Brooks, 61, from Liverpool, who reported seeing a couple carrying a child near the local marina only hours after Madeleine vanished.

A friend of the McCanns, of Rothley, Leicestershire, said last night: 'The way the Policia Judiciaria dismissed a lot of the leads is astonishing. At the moment Kate and Gerry are concentrating on the Belgium sighting, as it was the most recent.'

- Daily Mail



11 August 2008

Meanwhile, it has emerged police failed to quiz Liverpool man George Brooks, 61, who saw a suspicious couple carrying a child in Praia da Luz hours after Madeleine vanished.

By the time police finally visited the restaurant where he worked, he had left and they made no further effort to contact him.

- Daily Mirror



11 August 2008

Police also failed to interview pizza worker George Brooks, 61, of Liverpool, who saw a suspicious couple carrying a child near the local marina hours after Maddie vanished.

Mr Brooks spoke to the McCanns' private detectives. But by the time Portuguese police visited his restaurant they were told he had left.

- The Sun

Taken while she slept, 05 May 2007
Taken while she slept Daily Mail (original version here, later version online)

By Michael Seamark
05 May 2007


The distraught parents of missing three-year-old Madeleine McCann were clinging to hope that she was still alive last night.

As a desperate hunt continued in the Algarve, her mother relived the horrific moment she discovered her daughter had vanished from her bed while she and her husband were in a restaurant only 40 yards away.

Doctor Kate McCann ran from their apartment in an upmarket Portuguese resort screaming: 'Someone has taken my little girl.'

Kate and her husband Gerry, a consultant cardiologist, have told family and friends they suspect their daughter was snatched while her two-year-old twin brother and sister were sound asleep in cots on either side of her.

Madeleine, who was born by IVF treatment, disappeared from the family's ground-floor holiday apartment at the 'family friendly' Mark Warner holiday complex in the Praia da Luz resort as her parents ate at a tapas restaurant close by.

The child's aunt, Trish Cameron, yesterday described the frantic telephone call she received after the couple discovered their daughter was missing around ten o'clock on Thursday night.

"It was my young brother Gerry distraught on the phone, breaking his heart. He said: 'Madeleine's been abducted, she's been abducted'.

"They kept going back to check the kids every half hour. The restaurant was only 40 yards away. He went back at nine o'clock to check the children. They were all sound asleep, windows shut, shutters shut."

Kate then went over to the two-bedroom ground-floor apartment and 'came out screaming', said Mrs Cameron. 'The door was lying open, the window in the bedroom and the shutters had been jemmied open.

"Nothing had been touched in the apartment, no valuables taken, no passports. They think someone must have come in the window and gone out the door with her."

Portuguese police yesterday sealed off the three-storey block and forensic specialists fingerprinted the ground floor window of the McCanns' apartment. All airports, ports and border posts have been alerted.

But despite a massive search throughout the night by police, sniffer dogs and dozens of holidaymakers, there has been no sign of Madeleine, wearing white pyjamas when her parents put her to bed with twins Amelie and Sean in the bougainvillea-clad apartment.

Intriguingly, a Briton who runs a company in the Algarve has told police he spotted a couple carrying a young child early yesterday.

George Burke, from Liverpool, was driving home from nearby Lagos around 6am 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."

Last night, as police helicopters and launches scoured the sea, beach and village, Madeleine's family issued a statement which read: "This is a particularly difficult time for the family and we are all comforting each other. At this time all the family's focus is in assisting the UK and in particular the Portuguese authorities in securing Madeleine's safe return."

Mr McCann, a consultant cardiologist at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital, and his wife Kate, a GP, had chosen the up-market resort because it was family-friendly.

A friend of the couple, Jill Renwick, said: "This is the first time they have done this. They are very, very anxious parents and very careful."

She said Madeleine - known as Maddy - was 'gorgeous, active and chatty and intelligent, not shy. She is four next week and starts school this year.'

The McCanns, who have been married eight years and recently moved into a £600,000 detached house in Rothley, a suburb of Leicester, were on holiday with a group of fellow doctors and other young children, paying around £1,600 for a week.

In the evenings, Mark Warner offers a drop-in creche service enabling customers to leave young children with staff while they enjoy a relaxing dinner.

Customers may also pay for individual baby-sitters but the McCanns, both 38, chose not to use either service, instead taking it in turns regularly to check their three young children themselves from the restaurant on the other side of a swimming pool from their apartment.

After Mrs McCann raised the alarm, Mark Warner said it immediately launched a search of all areas within the complex and the peaceful, 1,000-population fishing village.

Resort manager John Hill said: "As well as staff, we had guests helping, also the majority of the Praia da Luz village.

"Police were informed at the same time as the alarm was raised. They arrived about 10.45pm and after statements were taken from the family police decided to escalate the situation."

Paul Moyes, 47, from Cheshire, and his wife Susan own a holiday apartment in the same black as the McCanns. He said: "There was a knock on the door at about 11.30 from a hotel guest telling us a girl was missing and asking us to help in the search.

"There were uniformed police, plain clothes and even off-duty local officers. The search went on all night, people were using torches.

"We searched the beach and the hotel grounds with scores of people. Quite a few of us own holiday homes here so it's a close-knit community and something like this is terribly shocking." Michael Hannar, from Pontefract, Yorkshire, owns a ground floor apartment close to the McCanns.

He said: "I don't believe a three-year-old child would have been strong enough to open the window or shutter.

"Mine are difficult to open, especially if the window is fully closed. The shutter is also difficult to open."

Family friend Mrs Renwick said the McCanns - who met while training at the Western Infirmary at Glasgow - felt let down by police.

"I spoke to them this morning and they said the police had done nothing overnight and they felt as if they'd been left on their own."

Resort manager Mr Hill said: "We're in a sleepy fishing village and manpower for the police, I agree, was low at the time. After the CID were involved more police were called."

In Leicester, neighbours spoke of the loving, protective parents.

Tracey Horsefield, a 32-year-old nurse, said: "They never let those children out on their own. I have never seen Madeleine without her parents."

Mr McCann's mother Eileen, 67, from Glasgow, said the couple had been desperate to have children and eventually underwent IVF treatment.

"Madeleine made their lives complete when she came along. The three children were very close and I don't know how they will cope - how any of them will."

Madeleine's uncle Michael Healy said: "There has been some negative spin put on this, with people criticising them for leaving the kids.

"But it's nonsense, they were close by and eating within sight of where the children were and checking on them. No one was rip-roaring drunk."

Nothing describes anguish for our Maddie, 05 May 2007
Nothing describes anguish for our Maddie The Sun (original version here, later version online)

Hunt for lost Maddie

John Askill and Julie Moult in Praia da Luz, Portugal, and James Clench in London
05 May 2007


HOLS PARENTS' PLEA FOR MISSING GIRL, 3

MISSING Maddie McCann's distraught parents choked back tears last night as they made a desperate plea to get her back.

Speaking 24 hours after discovering three-year-old Maddie had vanished from their holiday apartment, dad Gerry said: "Words cannot describe the anguish and despair we are feeling as the parents of a beautiful daughter."

As wife Kate poignantly clutched Maddie's pink teddy, he added haltingly: "We request anyone with any information relating to Madeleine's disappearance should please contact Portuguese police to help us get her back to safety.

"Please if you have Madeleine, please let her come home to her mummy, daddy, brother and sister. Everyone can understand how distressing this current situation is."

The couple, both 38-year-old doctors, looked red-eyed as they stood just yards from their holiday flat. Earlier, shattered relatives and friends told of the heart-stopping moment mum Kate discovered her precious daughter was missing.

Kate and Gerry, a consultant cardiologist, had left Maddie asleep with their baby twins as they ate at a tapas restaurant 50 yards from their holiday apartment in Portugal's Algarve.

Screaming

The pair took turns to check on the children every half hour. But when Kate returned to the room at 10pm on Thursday there was no sign of her angel-faced girl.

As a desperate police hunt continued in the resort of Praia da Luz last night, Maddie's aunt Trish Cameron told how distraught Gerry described the scene in a frantic late-night phone call.

Trish, of Dumbarton, Scotland, said: "The kids were all sound asleep, windows shut, shutters shut.

"Kate went back at 10pm to check. The front door was lying open, the window had been tampered with, the shutters had been jemmied open and Maddie was missing.

"She came screaming back to the group crying, 'They've taken her, they've taken her'. Gerry was crying and roaring like a bull.

"Obviously someone has been watching them, watching the children, seeing where they stayed and seeing they were left alone. It just doesn't bear thinking about."

Maddie's brother and sister - two-year-old IVF twins Sean and Amelie - were left safely in their cots.

Trish, who plans to jet out to help with the search, went on:

"Kate ran and told my brother. He was distraught on the phone to me, breaking his heart.

"He said, 'Maddie's been abducted, she's been abducted'. Nothing else was touched in the apartment, no valuables taken, no passports." Describing Maddie, Trish added: "She's an absolutely beautiful wee blonde girl, with blue-green eyes.

"One distinguishing feature is that the pupil of her right eye runs down into the iris."

Cops yesterday cordoned off the apartment and officers with sniffer dogs were leading the search.

The Sun has offered a £10,000 reward for information that may lead to the youngster being found.

Maddie - also an IVF baby - was reportedly wearing pink, short-sleeved pyjamas with a cartoon Eeyore on the top.

Last night local reports claimed dogs tracked her scent to a supermarket before the trail ran cold. The store's CCTV cameras were so basic they did not make recordings.

Meanwhile British tourist George Burke claimed he had seen a couple carrying a young child early yesterday morning. Mr Burke, from Liverpool, was driving back from Lagos, just a few miles from Praia de Luz. He said: "I couldn't see them clearly as it was dark and windy - but I thought it was odd. They scurried down a side road.

"Kate and Gerry, from Rothley, Leics, are believed to have been on holiday with a group of other medical workers. The party comprised nine adults and eight children. It is understood Maddie, who turns four next Saturday, is due to start school in September.

Distraught Kate rang long-time friends Jon and Michelle Corner, the twins' godparents, at their Merseyside home to break the news.

Jon, whose wife grew up with GP Kate in their home city of Liverpool, said: "She phoned at about 3am. She just blurted out that Maddie had been abducted.

"She said, 'They've broken the shutter on the window and taken my little girl'. She's still devastated. She's very upset that the police don't seem to be doing anything.

"The McCanns were staying at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz, western Algarve - a popular spot with Brits. They booked the break with holiday firm Mark Warner.

The complex consists of individual villa-style accommodation mixed with small bars, restaurants, cafes, boutiques and shops.

Resort boss John Hill said 70 staff and guests searched until 4.30am after the family raised the alarm, while border police, Spanish cops and airports were notified. He said: "It was a very emotional and frantic night."

But he insisted there was NO physical evidence Maddie had been abducted from the apartment. He said: "We are still hoping Madeleine is asleep under a bush and we'll find her soon."

He said the family's apartment was surrounded by others - all with "sophisticated" door locks.

Guests were quizzed to check if they saw anyone acting suspiciously. Mr Hill said Mark Warner offers families a babysitting service where they can leave children for the night.

He added: "Those facilities were available but were not being used." Counsellors were being flown out from Britain to assist the stricken parents, he added.

John Buck, the British Ambassador in Portugal, drove in from the capital Lisbon to be with the family after they begged him for help.

Among those who joined Thursday night's search for the tot were British expats, holidaymakers and off-duty police officers.

Paul Moyes, 47, from Cheshire, owns a holiday apartment with wife Susan in the McCanns' block.

Knock

He said: "There was a knock on our door at about 11.30pm from a hotel guest telling us a girl was missing and asking us to help.

"Family pal Gill Renwick revealed how panicking Kate sent her a text saying: "I need help."

She said: "Kate was at the police station in hysterics. When we spoke she said the police weren't doing enough."

Speaking about the £1,500 family holiday, pal Gill went on: "It's the first time they have done this. "They are very careful parents. They chose Mark Warner because it is a family-friendly resort."

Trish Cameron added: "In hindsight, yes, Gerry and Kate wish they hadn't left the children alone, but it's hard when you're on holiday. They're excellent parents and very protective of their children.

"Maddie's worried grandparents have flown to Portugal to join the search. Brian and Susan Healy said as they headed for the airport: "We're worried sick."

The couple had earlier been comforted by friends at their smart semi in Mossley Hill, Liverpool.

Family friend Pat Perkins, 61, said: "Susan can barely speak. We're just trying to stay positive.

"Kate and Gerry are such good parents. It's a very loving family, they didn't leave their children in any danger. You just don't expect something so awful to happen.

"I recommended Portugal as a holiday destination. They love children over there."

Sun team: John Scott, Guy Patrick, Antonella Lazzeri, Alastair Taylor, John Coles, Gary O'Shea, Emma Cox, David Goodwin, Tom Worden, John Clarke and Doug Seeburg

Sky News broadcast (extract), 05 May 2007
Sky News broadcast (extract)

05 May 2007

Ian Woods: The police are checking out one possible sighting about eight hours after Madeleine disappeared. Just before dawn a motorist said that his car headlights picked out a couple on the road; they had a child with them and, according to him, it looked as if they were trying to avoid being seen.

Hunt at Black Rock, 06 May 2007
Hunt at Black Rock News of the World (article no longer online)

Ross Hall & Carole Aye Maung in Praia da Luz, Portugal
6 May 2007

POLICE hunting for missing Maddie McCann have dramatically widened their search to an extinct VOLCANO, the News of the World can exclusively reveal.

Teams of officers with sniffer dogs were last night scouring what one called a "sinister" area called Black Rock near sea cliffs just over a mile from the resort where the youngster was snatched on Thursday.

The search was widened as the detective leading the hunt claimed they had a good idea who the kidnapper was - and that he believes Maddie may still be ALIVE.

A source close to the Portuguese investigation also told the News of the World that the abductor is believed to have spent days watching Maddie and staking out the McCann family's apartment at the Ocean Club resort in the seaside village of Praia da Luz.

Meanwhile more than 500 British tourists, expats and locals have joined in the ongoing search for the blonde youngster along a six-mile stretch of the coastline.

Last night - 48 hours after Maddie was snatched - that search shifted to Rocha Negra - a remote area feared by the local community and an ideal hideout.

Furriel Louis Costa, one of the policemen involved in the search, told us: "You would call it Black Rock. It is a very scary and chilling place. The local Portuguese people do not like to go up there. They are too frightened.

Captive

"It is very big and extends high up above the sea which makes it seem very threatening. You can go up there. But no one ever does. It's not a nice place. It is sinister."

He spoke as hopes rose that Maddie might be alive and held captive following a statement earlier in the day from the head of the investigation, Director of the Judicial Police Guilhermino Encarnacao who hinted that they KNOW the kidnapper's identity.

He said: "There is a prime suspect and we have a portrait sketch of the suspect.

But I am not going to reveal it because it may put the girl's life in danger. We believe that she is still alive and still in Portugal."

More than 150 police officers have been drafted into the area-and yesterday British detectives from the McCann's home county of Leicestershire flew in to join the hunt which also took in the Boavista golf course, again a mile from where she was abducted.

All ports, airports and borders have been put on high alert for any sign of the missing tot.

Maddie disappeared from the Ocean Club in the Praia da Luz resort of Portugal as her doctor parents Gerry and Kate McCann, both 38, ate in a restaurant 50 yards away.

They had chosen not to use the babysitting service provided by holiday company Mark Warner and instead were checking on her every half hour as she slept between her two-year-old twin brother and sister, Shaun and Amelie. A police source last night told us the kidnapper must have KNOWN there was no babysitter in the apartment-and could have been watching the family's movements for days.

He said: "It wasn't just coincidence that this person took her while her parents were out. They would have been watching and waiting and picked the ideal time to take her without disturbing anyone or raising any attention.

"They were only yards away and could see the balcony to the apartment but whoever took Maddie went through the front window which would have been out of sight."

Some sources in the area suggested last night that Maddie may have been snatched by a Russian or Eastern European gang to be sold for up to Pounds 250,000. Police are also investigating a British businessman's revelation that he spotted a couple carrying a young child just hours after Maddie disappeared.

Liverpool-born George Burke told cops he saw a couple carrying a young child at around 6am, seven hours after the abduction, as he drove home from nearby Lagos.

When his headlights lit them, he said they "scurried down a side road and out of sight".

Yesterday the News of the World joined the search for Maddie by putting up and handing out large posters calling for help in tracing the youngster to the masses of volunteers turning up to join the hunt.

Manchester man Dave Shelton, 38, who lives in the village and is co-ordinating the local searchers, said: "People have just been coming and coming. The response has been fantastic." Last night Maddie's distraught extended family gave us a series of loving pictures of the happy tot - who was conceived with the help of IVF treatment - at her home in Rothley, Leicestershire, as they prayed for her safe return.

Her aunt Philomena McCann, 54, said: "It's great to have some hope from the police-but we need something to happen. We want her back. We need to keep strong, for everybody's sake."

Maddie's great uncle Brian Kennedy (pictured left), who lives in the same village as the family, told how Gerry and Kate had already planned her fourth birthday party next Saturday before leaving for Portugal.

"We asked a friend to make her a Dr Who cake. We've told her to carry on making it. We have to think for the best."

Wasted days in hunt for Maddy, 07 May 2007
Wasted days in hunt for Maddy Daily Mail (print edition, different version online)

Neil Sears in Praia da Luz
07 May 2007

A series of blunders by Portuguese police could have allowed whoever kidnapped Maddy McCann to get away unhindered.

Sources close to the investigation have admitted that they were too slow to react, giving the abductor up to 48 hours to escape.

A picture emerged yesterday of a confused, error-laden inquiry far below what would be expected if a youngster went missing in similar circumstances in Britain.

Despite hopes that the little girl was still alive after more than three days away from her family, police did not have any specific information to confirm this. Nor were they thought to have a name of a prime suspect.

As the desperate hunt by 150 police and 650 volunteers continued, questions were being raised over the nature of the response and whether it has played into the kidnapper's hands. The Daily Mail has discovered that:

  • Portuguese border controls were not alerted until late on Friday morning - 15 hours after Maddy went missing.

  • It was not until Saturday that officers admitted she could have been abducted even though it was almost inconceivable that a child of three could have wandered off and remained missing for so long. Only then did they start searching hundreds of apartments in the busy resort of Praia da Luz.

  • A full list of guests and staff at the Mark Warner holiday complex was being compiled only yesterday and had yet to be handed over to detectives.

  • The apartment from where Maddy was taken has not been properly sealed off. Police lines have regularly been crossed by curious passersby who have been able to touch the shutters forced open by her abductor, destroying any possible forensic evidence.

  • The police 'sketch' of the suspect has a blank where the face is supposed to be.
Growing pessimism last night about the chances of finding Maddy alive was in sharp contrast to the apparent hope expressed on Saturday morning when the Judicial Police the Portuguese equivalent of CID - appeared to suggest that they knew who Madeleine's kidnapper was and expressed hope that she was still alive.

Officers also hinted that they had a description - or sketch - of the suspect. But the Daily Mail has been told that this is simply a hastily-compiled drawing based on the often contradictory accounts of no fewer than 30 witnesses.

One key 'suspect' is a man with thick, dark, side-parted hair, wearing a black padded shirt or jacket and pale trousers. One report claimed that he was based just a 'couple of miles' from the resort.

Other sources close to the inquiry, however, admit they have no real idea who he is and that the descriptions are of a 'number' of suspects.

Similarly, the police's confidence that the toddler is still alive seems to be based simply on hope.

Officers are working on three theories. One is that the suspect is a local paedophile. The other two possibilities are that Maddy was taken either by a childless couple or by human traffickers.

If either of the latter theories is true, then the youngster is likely to be a long way from the resort.

In any event, it is more than likely that she was watched by her captor - or captors - as she played with her parents in the sunshine.

At first the local rural police took little interest in witnesses' reports of suspicious characters seen nearby, because they initially believed Madeleine had simply wandered off.

They took hours to be convinced that an intruder had forced open the heavy shutters at the side of the flat.

Last night an expatriate British businessman described how he saw a couple carrying a young child eight hours after Madeleine went missing.

George Burke, originally from Liverpool, was driving home at 6am on Friday after dropping his son at a station when the man and woman were caught in his headlights and immediately scurried out of sight. He said he thought nothing more about the incident until he heard about Madeleine's disappearance, after which he contacted police.

Mr McCann's sister, Philomena McCann, said: 'The police were doing very little after Madeleine vanished. Mark Warner staff had to organise the searches. The police did nothing for hours.

'They have just played this down from the minute they were approached.'

By Saturday afternoon a chief inspector from Lisbon, belatedly summoned south to beef up the inquiry, was knocking on doors.

He and other officers used master keys to let themselves in when doors were not opened, then questioned occupants.

One British resident, shocked at the delays in the Portuguese response, said he had told the inspector: 'We've been waiting for you - it's taken two days. The inspector said, "I know" and rolled his eyes.'

Courage, Courage, Courage, 07 May 2007
Courage, Courage, Courage Daily Mirror (article no longer online)

Hunt for Maddy, 3 - Comfort for parents at Mother's Day service

Vanessa Allen and Martin Fricker in Praia da Luz
07 May 2007

FOR Kate McCann it could not have been more poignant - a Mother's Day church service celebrating the bond between mothers and daughters.

Tears streamed down her face as she watched Portuguese children giving flowers to their mums and thanking them for their loving care.

A local girl presented her with a posy of five roses - flowers which under happier circumstances would have come from missing Madeleine.

Brave Kate, 38, choked back her tears and whispered: "Thank you."

She was warned before attending yesterday's service at the Church of Our Lady of the Light that it would celebrate Mother's Day in Portugal. She insisted it should go ahead as planned.

But the strain was etched on her face as she clutched at Madeleine's toy pink cat and prayed for her daughter's safe return.

She kissed the threadbare toy repeatedly as she prayed. It was believed to have been left behind when the little girl was snatched.

Husband Gerry, also 38, put a comforting arm around her as Father Jose Manuel Pacheco led the prayers for Madeleine, her family and the police hunting for her. He said: "We pray that Madeleine will be brought home safe to the heart of the family. We are with you - courage, courage, courage."

Altar girl Emily Seromenho, 14, presented Kate with the roses and told her to walk with the Portuguese mothers and lay them at the feet of the Virgin Mary by the altar.

GP Kate paused by the statue - seemingly lost in silent prayer - and was embraced by the village mothers as the service ended.

She and husband Gerry were engulfed by almost 40 people as they left. Pensioners, mothers and their children swarmed round the Catholic couple and kissed, hugged and shook hands with them in an extraordinary gesture of support.

Many were in tears as they left the tiny white-painted church in Praia da Luz - including Emily.

The teenager, whose English mother Sarah lived in Ascot, Berks, before moving to the Algarve with her husband Francisco, said: "I felt she was very sad. I felt sad too.

"I told her she should give the flowers to the Virgin Mary. She just said 'Thank you'. It is a special service for us. It is nice but it was sad because of what is happening with Madeleine. We are all shocked by what has happened."

Kate and Gerry were accompanied at the service by eight relatives, including Madeleine's grandparents Susan and Brian Healy.

Holidaymakers passed by the church on their way to the beach, clutching their kid's hands tightly.

Expat Peggy Brown, 83, said: "Luz has always been a little oasis away from the bad things that have been happening in the world.

"What has happened is devastating, you can feel it. There is a sort of veil of sadness in the place."

Madeleine disappeared from the family's apartment at the Mark Warner Ocean Club while Kate and Gerry were at a restaurant on the complex just 120ft away.

They decided not to use a creche service and instead left Madeleine and their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie sleeping. They had been taking turns to return to the block to check on the children.

Kate found the shutter and window to Madeleine's room had been opened and her daughter missing shortly before 10pm.

A photograph of Madeleine taken during the holiday in Portugal last week was released by the family yesterday. In the holiday snap, she poses for the camera on a tennis court at the Algarve resort.

A family friend said Madeleine is a "very confident" girl who would "talk to anyone".

Portuguese police now have a detailed description of the man they believe took Madeleine - but do not know his identity. The Daily Mirror has been given the description but has agreed not to publish it at the request of police.

They are worried releasing too much information could possibly "spook" the kidnapper.

Officers have also created an artist's impression of the suspect - but bizarrely it is only of the back of his head.

Earlier yesterday, Kate and heart specialist Gerry, from Rothley, Leicestershire, were escorted through the resort by three family liaison officers from Leicestershire Police.

One of Kate's colleagues has offered a £100,000 reward for the youngster's safe return.

Police are also investigating reports that a "suspicious" couple were spotted with a blonde child in nearby Lagos on Friday morning.

British businessman George Burke, who has lived near the resort for 16 years after moving from Liverpool, said they "scurried" down a road towards a railway station. He added: "It was 6am and pitch black I couldn't be certain it was her."

Last night holiday firm Mark Warner, which owns the Ocean Club complex, said several British families had cancelled their bookings.

Meanwhile relatives defended Kate and Gerry for leaving their three youngsters while they went with friends to have a meal.

Great uncle Brian Kennedy, from Liverpool, said: "The children were only left in the sense that when you put your children to bed, you don't stay in their room all night.

"Kate and Gerry are absolutely devoted to their children."

I saw suspects with a girl like her, 07 May 2007
I saw suspects with a girl like her Daily Express (article no longer online)

Matt Drake and David Pilditch
Monday 7 May, 2007

A British expat told yesterday how he saw a "suspicious" couple with a child like Maddy rushing towards a railway station not long after the little girl disappeared.

Supermarket owner George Burke, from Liverpool, said that a "vicious looking" man and woman were carrying the child, eight miles from where she was abducted.

The sighting was about eight hours after Maddy had vanished from her bed at the Ocean Club resort as she slept beside her two-year-old twin brother and sister.

Father-of-two Mr Burke said he was driving home just before 6am on Friday when he caught the couple in his headlights.

"It was very, very dark, " he said. "It was hard to make out exactly what the couple looked like, but through the gloom I could definitely see a very suspicious-looking man and woman, carrying a child who fitted Madeleine's description.

"Though there was nobody else on the road, they were hurrying across a dual carriageway that leads straight to the train station and marina in Lagos.

"The woman was in her thirties, darkhaired and slim. The man, also in his thirties, was less than six feet tall and slightly stocky.

He had shoulder-length hair and looked quite tanned. They did not look like tourists and they certainly didn't seem to be British.

"You could tell from their posture that they were trying to carry the child without anyone seeing it and they were extremely disturbed when I caught them in my headlights.

"It was only after I returned home to my house in Burgau, along the coast from Praia da Luz, that I realised the importance of what I had seen. I quickly rang the police."

Portuguese police alerted airports, ports and border controls several hours after the alarm was raised, before cordoning the area.

Helped by Mr Burke's description, they have built a profile of the man they believe is their prime suspect. Mr Burke said they told him not to tell the media what he had seen but he decided to break his silence to help to track down the kidnapper.

"I'm the father of two teenagers myself, " he added, "but you can't begin to understand the agony and the distress that the child's parents are going through."

Please... don't stop praying for my Maddy, 07 May 2007
Please... don't stop praying for my Maddy Daily Star (article no longer online)

Snatched holiday girl's distraught mum in tearful plea...

By Jerry Lawton
07 May 2007

Missing three-year-old Maddy McCann's mum wept yesterday as she prayed for her to be freed by the sex fiend police fear is holding her captive.

Distraught GP Kate McCann, 38, kissed her little daughter's stuffed pink kitten during a church service on Portugal's Mother's Day.

She lined up with other mums to lay flowers at the feet of the Virgin Mary at a Catholic mass in the resort of Praia da Luz, where Maddy was abducted four days ago.

Kate and her heart surgeon husband Gerry were hugged by locals devastated by the kidnap in their low-crime Algarve town.

Devastated Kate urged: "Please continue to pray for Madeleine. She's lovely."

A family friend - a fellow GP - has offered a £100,000 reward for her safe return.

A British expat yesterday described seeing a "suspicious" couple with a child fitting Maddy's description eight hours after the toddler was snatched.

George Burke said he saw a "vicious" looking man and woman carrying the child towards a railway station eight miles from where she was abducted.

Maddy vanished from the couple's holiday apartment at the Mark Warner Ocean Club on Thursday while they ate at a tapas bar just 40 yards away.

When Kate went to check on Maddy - and two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie - at 10pm she discovered a window open, shutters damaged and her daughter missing.

Detectives fear the tot was snatched by a known sex beast who lived nearby and they have been unable to trace since.

Judicial police director Guilhermino Encarnacao confirmed they were hunting a "known suspect".

But he refused to give more details in case it endangered the tot's life.

A senior police source said: "A situation like this becomes a game of cat and mouse. We do not want to make a false move."

Police were last night following up 30 possible sightings of the youngster.

More than 150 officers were yesterday scouring beaches, abandoned holiday homes and volcanic caves near the resort.

Airports and police on the nearby Spanish border were placed on alert, and British police have flown out to join the hunt.

Maddy's parents, from Rothley, Leics, joined 150 worshippers in the resort's tiny 16th Century church.

Pictures of Maddy were attached to copies of church notices distributed to the congregation, and a large photograph of her was pinned to the front of the building. The family released the last photo taken of her - smiling in a pink hat as she played on tennis courts yards from where she was snatched.

After the service Gerry, 38, said: "We're going to take strength and courage and hope from this. We continue to hope for the best possible outcome."

Back at home Maddy's great-uncle Bryan Kennedy said: "Gerry has no more news, but he did say the amount of support they are getting out there is considerable.

"If the reward helps bring a happy ending then so much the better."

In Rothley the Catholic Chuch of the Sacred Heart was packed for a mass dedicated to the family.

Desperate parents of missing girl take initiative and make direct appeal to her abductor, 08 May 2007
Desperate parents of missing girl take initiative and make direct appeal to her abductor The Guardian (print edition, different version online)

· Move reflects impatience over police response
· Description of clothing when girl went missing

Steven Morris Praia da Luz, Portugal
Tuesday 8 May 2007

The mother of Madeleine McCann yesterday made a direct appeal to the person who snatched her "beautiful" daughter during a family holiday in Portugal.

Kate McCann begged the abductor: "Please, please do not hurt her. Please don't scare her. Please let us know where to find Madeleine, or put her in a place of safety and tell somebody where."

It is understood the family is becoming impatient with the response of the police in the Algarve to the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine, who vanished from her bed on Thursday evening.

The decision to make the direct appeal was the idea of Mrs McCann and her husband Gerry, rather than the Portuguese police.

They also decided to release a full description of the pyjamas the little girl was wearing when she was taken as the parents dined in a nearby tapas bar. The police had failed to issue a description of what Madeleine was wearing, one of the first things a British force would have done if a child went missing.

Speaking in an apartment a few doors from where the family were staying when Madeleine vanished, Mrs McCann, a GP, said: "We would like to say a few words to the person who is with our Madeleine or has been with Madeleine.

"Madeleine is a beautiful, bright, funny and caring little girl. She is so special. We beg you to let Madeleine come home.

"We need our Madeleine. Sean and Amelie [the girl's twin two-year-old brother and sister] need Madeleine and she needs us. Please give us our little girl back."

Mrs McCann, 39, still clutching Madeleine's cuddly toy that was left in her bed when she was taken, repeated the final plea in Portuguese: "Por favor, devolva a nossa menina."

As she made the plea Mr McCann, 38, a cardiac surgeon, leaned his head into his wife's neck, tears in his eyes. Afterwards Alex Woolfall, a spokesman for the Mark Warner complex in the seaside village of Praia da Luz from which Madeleine was snatched, confirmed that the idea to make the direct plea had come from the McCanns, though they had informed the police they were doing it.

He said: "They wanted to make a very direct appeal. Every day they are trying to do whatever they can."

The family, who are from Rothley, Leicestershire, said that the pyjamas she was wearing had white bottoms with a floral design on them and a pink, short-sleeved top with a picture of the Winnie the Pooh character Eeyore on them. They were bought from Marks & Spencer last year.

Meanwhile, the police investigation included patrols of a marina at the nearby town of Lagos and volunteers took part in searches on foot of the scrubby countryside a few miles inland from the resort.

There have been reports that a bald man was seen dragging a girl towards the marina. Police have checked the departure records of the pleasure boats that left the marine in the hours after Madeleine's disappearance.

At least two yachts left the harbour for other Portuguese ports the morning after the child was taken. A police launch was patrolling the marina yesterday.

Marques Pereira, a maritime police captain at Lagos, also became the first public official to admit that the Madeleine might be dead. He said that they were searching for clothes, shoes or a body. One of the sites they have been looking at are caves, which can only be accessed by canoe.

There was a swirl of other possible sightings of suspect and theories. One man from Liverpool, George Burke, said that he had seen a couple with a girl who fitted Madeleine's description eight hours after her disappearance, again close to the marina and the railway station at Lagos, which is a 10-minute drive from Praia da Luz. There were reports of yet another suspect handing out sweets to children near the marina.

Barra da Costa, a former inspector in the Judicial Police, PJ, claimed that his sources within the force believed that Madeleine's abductor could be from Britain.

Ex-pat and Portuguese volunteers continued to help with the search. A party of around 20 people searched forests and rough ground around the village of Espiche, just north of Praia da Luz.

Dave Felton, a Manchester man who lives in the village said: "I think people are still hoping that we don't actually find her and that she is safe and sound somewhere."

Madeleine 'seen at marina', 28 November 2007
Madeleine 'seen at marina' Daily Express (article no longer online)

By Nick Fagge
Wednesday 28 November, 2007

A British expat says he saw Madeleine McCann being dragged towards a marina by a "very suspicious" couple, just hours after she vanished, it was reported last night.

Businessman George Burke says he saw a small girl resembling Madeleine being hauled along by a "vicious looking" man and woman, as he drove past Lagos marina in the early morning of May 4, just eight hours after she vanished.

He said: "It was dark and they were hurrying towards the marina. There was no one else around at the time and they looked very suspicious."

Mr Burke, who is from Liverpool but lives in Portugal, reported the sighting to Portuguese police but said they did not take him seriously. He is now being quizzed by the McCanns' private detectives who say the sighting may be crucial.

The claims came as it was revealed that police in Portugal have carried out fresh searches for Madeleine's body – or a place she could have been hidden – in countryside surrounding Praia da Luz.

The Policia Judiciaria has refused to reveal the exact locations, and inquiries continue.

Detectives are believed to have identified a number of locations several miles away from the Algarve resort, in countryside between the towns of Lagos and Portimao.

Sources said the theory that Madeleine was killed by an intruder at the villa, who then disposed of her body elsewhere, was gaining strength at the centre of the investigation.

I saw Maddy dragged away by vicious man, 28 November 2007
Version 1:

I saw Maddy dragged away by vicious man Daily Mirror

Lagos marina

EXCLUSIVE: Expat's sighting at marina Detectives probe crucial lead

By Martin Fricker
28/11/2007

A British expat insists he saw Madeleine McCann hours after she vanished - being cruelly dragged towards a marina by a couple.

George Burke said a small girl, who bore a remarkable resemblance to Madeleine, was being hauled along by a "vicious-looking" man and a woman.

He added: "It was dark and they were hurrying towards the marina. There was no-one else around at the time and they looked very suspicious."

George saw the couple and the child while driving past Lagos marina and rail station at 6am on the morning of May 4.

He told Portuguese police after news of Madeleine's disappearance was announced.

Astonishingly, they did not take his report seriously. But now he is to quizzed again by the McCanns' private detectives, who say the sighting may be crucial.



Version 2 (was also paper edition, under title: 'Taken by sea?'):

I saw Maddy dragged away by vicious man Daily Mirror

EXCLUSIVE: Expat's sighting at marina Detectives probe crucial lead

By Martin Fricker
28/11/2007

A british businessman's sighting of Madeleine McCann near a marina eight hours after she vanished has convinced private detectives she WAS smuggled out of Portugal by sea.

George Burke insists he saw a vicious-looking man and a woman dragging a Madeleine lookalike along a road that leads to Lagos marina.

But investigators believe Portuguese police who interviewed the dad-of-two failed to take the sighting seriously.

A source said: "The private investigators are now concentrating on Lagos and the marina.

"What Mr Burke saw could be incredibly valuable.

"He was concerned enough to call the police and they eventually followed up on his information.

"Now the investigators want to talk to Mr Burke. There is a strong chance Madeleine was taken by boat from the marina and is still alive somewhere."

George, who is from Liverpool but now lives in Portugal, saw the couple with the girl as he drove past the marina at about 6am on May 4. He said: "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."

Kate and Gerry McCann have always believed the four-year-old was probably taken out of Portugal by sea to North Africa.

George contacted police as soon as he got home but border and port authorities were not alerted for another 12 hours.

Madeleine: 'Someone's holding back the truth', 29 November 2007
Madeleine: 'Someone's holding back the truth' Daily Express (article no longer online)

By Nick Fagge
Thursday 29 November, 2007

Kate and Gerry McCann are behind a deliberate campaign of misinformation about the disappearance of their daughter, it was claimed yesterday.

In a thinly veiled attack on the couple and their private investigators, a high-ranking police source in Portugal rubbished recent "sightings" of Madeleine and accused them of trying to suppress the truth about events on May 3.

"Someone is trying to deviate attention about what really happened that night, " says the source in Portuguese daily newspaper 24 Horas yesterday.

It is claimed that detectives have spent weeks pouring over media reports of worldwide sightings, including Morocco and Bosnia.

And the report says the authorities now believe details of the sightings have been leaked to the British press by agents working on behalf of the McCanns to discredit the official police investigation.

The source told 24 Horas: "We have analysed all the information reaching the public.

"None of the reports indicating sightings of the McCanns' daughter have been confirmed.

"And there's also someone who wants to bring down an investigation that has been carried out honestly and rigorously."

The source close to the Policia Judiciaria (PJ) investigation countered claims that the Portuguese police are determined to "nail" the McCanns for their daughter's disappearance.

He said: "The PJ doesn't want an innocent person to be taken prisoner. It's just trying to find out the truth. And that's the direction it will continue working in."

The latest "sighting" is from a British expat who says he saw Madeleine being dragged towards a marina by a "very suspicious" couple eight hours after she vanished.

Businessman George Burke says he saw a small girl resembling Madeleine being hauled along by a "vicious-looking" man and woman as he drove past Lagos marina – five miles from Praia da Luz – in the early morning of May 4.

Last week it emerged that a Portuguese lorry driver told police he saw a girl being handed over by a blonde woman to a man in the town of Silves on May 5.

Private investigators believe this was the moment the four year old was passed from her original kidnapper to a paedophile gang who whisked her to Morocco.

The trucker is said to have identified Michaela Walczuch, the lover of official suspect Robert Murat, as the blonde woman handing over the youngster on the country road.

Spanish tourist Isabel Gonzalez has claimed she saw Jehovah's Witness Walczuch, 32, in Morocco in June, just moments after she noticed a little blonde girl whom she is convinced was Madeleine.

And a British nanny has identified expat property developer Murat, 34, as the man she saw trying to snatch a baby from the same holiday apartment that the McCanns booked six months later.

Murat and Walczuch both deny any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance. And Francisco Pagarete, Murat's lawyer, has accused the McCanns of trying to frame his client and his friends.

The official Portuguese police investigation continues to focus on the theory that Madeleine died in the apartment as the result of an accident, and that the McCanns hid the body and recruited friends into covering their tracks.

Kate and Gerry McCann, both 39, from Rothley, Leicestershire, vigorously deny being involved in their daughter's disappearance.

Portuguese police ignored 'kidnapper in the shadows' outside Madeleine's bedroom, 11 August 2008
Portuguese police ignored 'kidnapper in the shadows' outside Madeleine's bedroom Daily Mail

By Vanessa Allen and Nicola Boden
Last updated at 9:44 AM on 11th August 2008

Police failed to investigate a previous suspected abduction attempt from Kate and Gerry McCann's holiday apartment, it was disclosed yesterday.

A babysitter spotted a man lurking in the shadows outside apartment 5A while she was looking after a young girl inside.

But Portuguese police searching for missing Madeleine McCann dismissed her account as 'irrelevant' and refused to investigate.

The failure, one of a host of missed opportunities, was revealed in the mammoth files released last week.

It emerged as police in Belgium continued to trawl through CCTV footage from a bank in Brussels where a security guard reported seeing a girl resembling Madeleine last week.

The McCanns' private detectives are working on a theory that Madeleine was abducted and taken to Belgium on the orders of a paedophile gang who had seen a photograph of her taken by a 'spotter' in Portugal.

Family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said their detectives were working on all the missed clues in the police files.

He said: 'Kate and Gerry hoped from the outset that the police were following up every lead in the most thorough and professional manner possible. Where any information is found not to have been followed up, our investigators are working on it, all of it.'

The case files showed that Margaret Hall, a babysitter at the Mark Warner resort, was interviewed by detectives working for the McCanns from the Spanish-based agency Metodo 3 last year.

They handed their report, marked 'Very Confidential', to the Portuguese police.

It said Miss Hall had been in apartment 5A with a young girl in September 2006  -  eight months before Madeleine's disappearance  -  when she heard a noise outside.

She went to investigate, the statement said, adding: 'In a dark area she noticed something was moving and thought it was a rat.

'She was shocked when, on closer examination, she saw it was the brown shoe of a man. She shouted and the man came out of the darkness, activating movement-sensitive lights. He walked towards her, saying "No, no".'

The incident happened on a Thursday night  -  the same night Madeleine was taken.

But an internal Portuguese police memo said the report 'seems to us to be out-dated and of no relevance to the material under investigation'.

Detectives also failed to question George Brooks, 61, from Liverpool, who reported seeing a couple carrying a child near the local marina only hours after Madeleine vanished.

A friend of the McCanns, of Rothley, Leicestershire, said last night: 'The way the Policia Judiciaria dismissed a lot of the leads is astonishing. At the moment Kate and Gerry are concentrating on the Belgium sighting, as it was the most recent.'

A guard at the KBC bank in Brussels says he saw a blonde, blue-eyed girl with a Moroccan-looking woman last Monday.

The McCanns now have detectives working around the world at a reported cost of £166,000 a month.

Among the possible sightings they are following up, also apparently ignored by the Portuguese, is one by a British yachtsman on the Caribbean island of Margarita last May.

Trevor Francis, 64, of Worthing, West Sussex, said: 'I saw the little blemish in her right eye. She was the absolute image of Madeleine.'

He said the girl was in a restaurant with three women who looked Spanish. She seemed 'sullen' and refused to eat.

Portuguese police ignored tip off about abductor in Maddy case, 11 August 2008
Portuguese police ignored tip off about abductor in Maddy case Daily Mirror

By Victoria Ward in Praia da Luz
11/08/2008

Newly-released evidence reveals a man tried to abduct a child at McCanns' flat 8 months before Maddy was taken..

A suspected abductor was spotted spying on Madeleine McCann's flat before she vanished - but Portuguese police ignored the tip-off, it emerged yesterday.

British babysitter Margaret Hall was caring for a girl aged six in the same apartment when she saw the prowler lurking in the dark and peering inside.

A statement and his description were passed to officers - who dismissed it as irrelevant, their files on the bungled probe reveal.

Last night a friend of Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry branded the police reaction "astonishing".

The couple's private Metodo 3 detectives will now urgently pursue the potentially vital lead.

Family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "Kate and Gerry hoped from the outset that police were following up every lead in the most thorough and professional manner possible.

"Where any information is found to not have been followed up, our private investigators are working on it, all of it."

Their zeal is in marked contrast to that of local cops, who shrugged off the report as "of no relation to the...investigation" and never bothered to contact Margaret.

British police intelligence has suggested Madeleine may have been snatched on May 3 last year days after being snapped by a spotter for Belgian paedophiles.

Margaret had reported her autumn 2006 sighting to Metodo 3 in November 2007 and they informed police. Parents of the youngster she was looking after were out for the night and had warned her about rodents in Apartment 5A at Praia da Luz's Ocean Club complex.

Margaret encountered the prowler as she went to check for rats at about 12.30am.

The Metodo 3 statement given to official detectives reveals: "She left by the main entrance and, in a dark area, with movement sensitive lights, she noticed something moving and thought it was a rat.

"She was shocked when on closer examination she saw it was the brown shoe of a man who was peeping in the dark area outside the apartment.

"She shouted and the man came out of the darkness, activating the lights. He walked towards her and said, 'No, no'."

The prowler was said to be aged 23-25, of Mediterranean appearance and with long, black curly hair. He wore light trousers and a checked blue shirt.

Margaret is convinced he had a Portuguese accent.

Kate and Gerry's pal Jane Tanner has told police that on the night Madeleine vanished she saw a dark-haired man in beige trousers carrying a child and hurrying from the direction of the flat.

Margaret reported her sighting to her boss but he was more bothered about a rat infestation.

The babysitter - who spent six months working for the Ocean Club complex until November 2006 - contacted Metodo 3 via their helpline.

The Spanish private sleuths met Portuguese police on November 14 last year and passed on the tip-off. But Portuguese officers dismissed it out of hand because the sighting came around eight months before Madeleine vanished.

Their 30,000 pages of case notes reveal: "The director of M3 (Metodo 3) handed us a small notepad with information relating to Madeleine's disappearance.

"They said the information had come from their Spanish Madeleine helpline.

"We notice that it reports facts which took place in August/Sept of 2006, which seems to us outdated and of no relation to the material under investigation."

British nanny Charlotte Pennington worked at the resort last year and said she had heard reports of a suspicious man lurking around apartments.

Meanwhile, it has emerged police failed to quiz Liverpool man George Brooks, 61, who saw a suspicious couple carrying a child in Praia da Luz hours after Madeleine vanished.

By the time police finally visited the restaurant where he worked, he had left and they made no further effort to contact him.

Several holidaymakers also told police about a man behaving strangely near Praia da Luz.

Metodo 3

Spanish private investigators, based in Barcelona, are said to be being paid £50,000 a day to hunt for Madeleine.

Since taking on the case it has received 16,000 calls from potential witnesses.

Man in shadows ignored by cops, 11 August 2008
Man in shadows ignored by cops The Sun

Veronica Lorraine in Praia da Luz
11 August 2008

PORTUGUESE cops failed to probe a possible sighting of Maddie's abductor near her family's holiday apartment, police case files reveal.

Babysitter Margaret Hall was looking after a little girl in the flat eight months before the McCanns arrived.

When she investigated a noise outside, she saw a shoe in the shadows. She cried out and a man stepped out shouting, "No, no". Margaret said he was almost certainly Portuguese.

She told detectives she returned to the apartment "in a state of shock".

Couple

But police regarded the incident as "outdated" as it occurred so long before Maddie went missing, their 20,000-page dossier shows.

Police also failed to interview pizza worker George Brooks, 61, of Liverpool, who saw a suspicious couple carrying a child near the local marina hours after Maddie vanished.

Mr Brooks spoke to the McCanns' private detectives. But by the time Portuguese police visited his restaurant they were told he had left.

In another possible lead, Ernesto Mochacho, 23, told police of a "tall, thin Englishman in his 40s" who was taking photos of kids on a beach where the McCanns took Maddie.

They asked him to get in touch if he saw him again. But Ernesto added: "I never saw him after that."

The McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said last night: "Kate and Gerry hoped from the outset that the police were following up every lead."

  The 'vision' of Lagos marina

  Map of Lagos marina

Map of Lagos marina

Map above: No.9 is the site of the Pizza Hut restaurant. The 'Shearwater' boat (see below for 'vision') was moored at mooring post B40 (click image to enlarge)

Maddy's mother photographed boat she believes snatched girl, 09 August 2009
Maddy's mother photographed boat she believes snatched girl Sunday Express

Kate McCann took her friend's vision seriously after Madeleine vanished
Kate McCann took her friend's vision seriously

By James Murray
Saturday August 8, 2009
 
KATE McCANN went to see a boat she believes was used in the abduction of their ­daughter, the Sunday Express can reveal today. Just a few days after Madeleine was snatched from the family's holiday apartment, a family friend had a "strong vision" that the child was on a boat moored in a nearby marina.
 
Kate went to Lagos marina, a few miles along the coast from Praia da Luz where her daughter vanished on May 3, 2007, and photographed the boat and the man on board, a hand-written note in police files reveals.
 
The note, headed "information from the family" and apparently from an officer with the Leicestershire Police as it was written on the force's notepaper, reads: "I spoke to Kate McCann on Tuesday 8th May 2007.
 
"She told me that a friend of her aunt and uncle had a friend that had a strong vision that Madeleine was on a boat with a man in the marina in Lagos."
 
It reveals that the "person" arrived in Portugal and spoke to Kate, adding: "They have visited the marina and identified the boat."
 
The officer spoke to a colleague who made some enquiries about the cruiser, which was registered to a Canadian national. Enquiries were also made on the police national computer.
 
The note goes on: "I spoke with Kate today and she has given me ­photographs of the boat.
 
"She has also given me photograph of a man who had been on the boat.
 
"This is not the man that the woman saw in her vision. This matter is very important to her and she is very pleased that we are making enqs (enquiries) into the matter."
 
In the Portugese police file there are pictures of the marina and the cruiser along with a letter from the marina to the registered owner saying that the six months' mooring contract would run out on April 8 of that year.
 
Whether the astonishing enquiries made by Kate herself led anywhere is not clear but the episode shows how seriously she took the suggestion that her daughter was abducted by sea.
 
In the early days of Madeleine's ­disappearance Portugese detectives investigated the ownership and ­movements of many boats on the local coast, but don't appear to have come up with strong suspect.
 
However, with the feverish speculation that a woman with an Australian accent was apparently waiting for the delivery of a child in Barcelona 72 hours after Madeleine vanished has turned the spotlight back on the movement of boats in May 2007.
 
Private detectives working for Kate and Gerry McCann are working on the theory that Madeleine was smuggled on to a boat, then spirited 800 miles along the coast to Barcelona for collection by the woman, who is said to bear a resemblance to Victoria Beckham.
 
A British man had a conversation with the woman outside a restaurant 72 hours after ­Maddie, then three, was taken. Tragically for Madeleine, these ­sporadic bouts of excitement have in the past failed to produce a direct lead to who actually took her and where she is now, dead or alive.
 
Unfortunately, the whole investigation was also compromised in the early days by the sheer incompetence of the Portugese police investigation.
 
From the outset officers allowed people to trample over the crime scene at the McCann’s apartment.
 
And though Jane Tanner, one of the McCann's holiday companions, dubbed the Tapas Seven, said she saw a man carrying a child in his arms around the time Madeleine disappeared, it was left to the McCanns to get an artist to do a drawing months later instead of a professional, Scotland Yard e-fit.
 
Another key area woefully handled by the Portugese was the vital accounting for all the known paedophiles in the area at the crucial time.
 
Retired ­detectives David Edgar and Arthur Cowley are doing the extremely ­difficult job of trying to track the alibis of these people more than two years after the kidnap.
 
The last time there was such ­concentrated interest was when a newspaper discovered that British paedophile Raymond Hewlett had been in Portugal at the relevant time. Now dying from cancer, he has consistently denied any involvement.
 
Now the Madeleine hare is up and running in Australia.
 
Television programmes have been urging ­millions of residents to track down the woman who allegedly had a snatched conversation with a British man who waited more than two years to contact the Madeleine investigators, apparently unaware that he may ­possess vital information.
 
Right from the beginning allegations have been bandied about to the ­detriment of the inquiry.
 
The innocent and well meaning ­Robert Murat suffered months of ­suspicion when fingers were wrongly pointed at him and both Kate and Gerry McCann suffered when Portugese police wrongly made them arguidos for a time.
 
As the searchlight turns on boat-owners, those conducting the inquiry should be aware of the damage they could cause to people they regard as "persons of interest" to the inquiry.
 
In all likelihood the Australian woman seen at the bar in Barcelona will be tracked down, named, spoken to and then eliminated from the inquiry.
 
Everyone can understand the despair felt by the McCanns, but their honourable and understandable quest for answers must be expertly focused to avoid another media frenzy which fails to provide what we all want: the discovery of Madeleine alive so she can return to her tormented family.

A Tense Situation, 20 January 2012
A Tense Situation

(l.) Photograph of 'Shearwater' boat given to D.C. Markley by Kate McCann and (r.) photograph of the same boat taken by the PJ on 18 May 2007

EXCLUSIVE to mccannfiles.com

By Dr Martin Roberts
20 January 2012

 
A TENSE SITUATION

Time is of the essence. It is so important to each of us in our daily lives that, in the course of mankind's cultural history, every effort has been made to quantify it - pictorially, mechanically, electronically; even relatively.

What did the McCanns do with their precious time in the immediate aftermath of Madeleine's disappearance, first announced on Thursday night, 3 May 2007? Kate McCann has told us (parentheses mine).

Friday 4: Virtually the entire day was spent at PJ headquarters in Portimao. They travelled there with police at 10.00 a.m. (p.88) returning to Praia da Luz 'some time after 8.30 p.m.' (p.92).

Saturday 5: 'Alan Pike (trauma psychologist)... was at the door of our apartment by 6.00 a.m... we talked... for several hours... it turned out to be a bewilderingly busy day for Gerry and me...' (p.99-101). 'Three family liaison officers (FLOs) from Leicestershire force... came to introduce themselves.' (p.102). 'We had so many meetings that day...' (p.103). 'Neither Gerry nor I was functioning remotely properly... At lunchtime, over by the Tapas area, Gerry saw a crowd of departing guests... With a new batch of incoming holidaymakers, more of our relatives appeared.' (p.104) 'I remember slumping on one of the dining chairs in the apartment (4G)... I also felt a compulsion to run up to the top of the Rocha Negra... the sun set on another day and there was still no news.' (p.105).

Sunday 6: '...despite my fragility I was determined to go to Mass... We all, family and friends, went to mass at the local church.' (p.106). That first Sunday saw two further arrivals in Luz: my childhood friends Michelle and Nicky. Both wanted to be with me... Alan (Pike) planted in our minds the idea of reducing the size of our support group... Listening to Alan it all seemed so obvious... after giving the matter some thought' (p.109)... 'we ended up getting down to the nitty-gritty... that Sunday evening.' (p.110).

Monday 7: British expatriates living permanently in Praia da Luz organized a search of the area. The volunteers were joined by most of our family and friends... while Gerry and I were tied up with Andy Bowes and Alex Woolfall... When lunchtime came, Gerry and I were in the middle of another meeting... we had to go to the Toddler Club ourselves... Once we were left with our leaner support group, we allocated general roles... It had been suggested that I should record a televised appeal aimed at Madeleine's abductor, and this is what we had been discussing that morning with Andy and Alex... (p.111) Andy Bowes had proposed delivering part of my appeal in Portuguese, which I did. Gerry sat beside me...' (p.112). 'I was hugely relieved when it was over... Around teatime, Father Ze turned up...' (p.113). 'We were seeing the Leicestershire FLOs every day. That Monday evening... we lost it with the liaison officers.' (p.113-4).

Tuesday 8: '...we said an emotional goodbye to the family and friends who were leaving us... Later I went down to sit on the beach for a while with Fiona... We talked and cried and held on to each other... As we were walking up from the beach at about 5pm, I had a call from Cherie Blair...'

Well that about takes care of the McCann itinerary during the first five days immediately following Madeleine's reported disappearance.

I should apologize at this point for what next may seem to some like an overly complex version of an old trick, where, after being invited to count the passengers boarding and leaving a bus en route, the unsuspecting listener is suddenly invited to answer the question: 'How many bus-stops were there?' Because now I should like to ask when, in the course of all the activity Kate McCann has dutifully outlined for us, did she personally find the time for sight-seeing; in particular her visit to Lagos Marina, which she has previously described to D.C. 975 Markley of Leicestershire Constabulary? It was he who wrote, on a spare sheet of LC paper headed 'LEICESTERSHIRE CONSTABULARY Continuation WITNESS STATEMENT,' the following:
INFORMATION FROM THE FAMILY

I spoke to Kate McCann on Tuesday 8th of May 07. She told me that a friend of her Aunt & Uncle from Leicester had a friend that had a strong vision that Madeleine was on a boat with a man in the Marina in Lagos.

This person arrived in Portugal and has spoke to Kate. They have visited the Marina and identified the boat as "SHEARWATER". They saw a man on the boat but this was not the same man that she had in her vision.

This is very important to Kate
. I spoke to Glen Pounder if he could make some enqs with regards to the boat.

He has done this and the boat is registered to a Canadian National called Bruce Cook. Glen has told me that George Reyes at the police stn is now dealing with the matter with regards to doing PNC checks etc.

I spoke with Kate today and she has given me photographs of the boat
. She has also given me a photograph of a man who had been on the boat. This is not the man that the woman had in her vision.

This matter is very important to her
and she is very pleased that we are making enqs into the matter.

Once the enqs have been completed can we please let her know the result.

Thanks
This correspondence, concerning information provided by Kate McCann don't forget, has to be read very carefully. Although the page is undated, 'I spoke to Kate McCann on Tuesday 8th of May 07' is clearly a reference to a past action. Furthermore, the conversation to which it refers describes past activity itself, placing the vision, certainly, at a time prior to Tuesday 8 May (some time between May 4th and May 8th, no doubt). But what about that person's arrival in Portugal and their visit to the Marina?

DC Markley, writing whenever, does not say 'This person has since arrived in Portugal and spoken to Kate,' i.e. placing these actions at a time after his and Kate's 8 May conversation, although they may be misconstrued as having occurred later. Rather, these activities are referred to much as might be the subject matter in continuation of that very first conversation. DC Markley goes on to explain that he has 'spoke with Kate today' (i.e. the day of the memo) and that his colleague, Glen Pounder, had by that time already completed certain enquiries regarding a particular yacht. Completion (not commencement) at the time of writing necessarily implies that these enquiries must have been stimulated by an earlier Markley/McCann conversation.

Hence, by Tuesday 8 May, Kate McCann is in a position to inform DC Markley of a specific vessel moored at Lagos Marina. The visit which identified it must already have taken place, as DC Markley makes no reference whatsoever to any exchange of information in the interim, i.e. in-between the 'conversation' that occurred on Tuesday 8 May and the tete-a-tete meeting on the day he wrote his memo, when Kate 'gave him photographs of the boat.'

Ah yes, but it was Kate's anonymous informant who visited the Marina alone, took the photographs and passed them onto Kate ('This person arrived in Portugal and has spoke to Kate. They have visited the Marina'), 'They' in this instance being an impersonal reference to the individual in question.

Oh no it is not.

The subsequent sentence reads: 'They saw a man on the boat but this was not the same man that she had in her vision.'

The change of pronoun clearly distinguishes between the visionary (she) and her companion(s), 'They' being the third person plural.

Thus Kate McCann took advantage of a gap in her busy schedule to visit Lagos Marina, some time between 4 and 8 May; an event directly associated with a matter of considerable importance to her (DC Markley points this out twice); so important in fact that she fails to describe it in her book at all, whilst what she does mention specifically precludes its having happened, in that period of time at any rate. The nearest she comes to the subject is this: "There were a couple of 'visionary' experiences in particular I took very seriously. One of them had come through prayer which, at the time, gave it even greater credibility in my eyes. I begged the police to look into these." She does not elaborate further.

Kate McCann of course knows 'what happened.' She was there. Her book, 'Madeleine' is an account of the truth. How ironic then that the Leveson enquiry should vilify representatives of the UK press for implicitly trusting the presumed source of much of their information, in the form of the Portuguese police, when a serving UK Detective Constable has apparently made the very same mistake in trusting information provided to him by the missing child's own parent. If what Kate tells us in her book is true, then what she told DC Markley on 8 May, 2007, whether by telephone, e-mail or carrier pigeon, cannot be.

But we're not done yet.

On an indeterminate date, Kate McCann personally handed DC Markley a set of photographs taken during a visit to Lagos Marina; a visit that took place before 8 May. Kate's 'friend' may have had the vision, but did she take the photographs? In light of Kate McCann's self-confessed photophobia, she could well have done.

During an interview published on 27 May, 2007, Kate told Olga Craig (Sunday Telegraph): "I haven't been able to use the camera since I took that last photograph of her." ('her' being Madeleine). James Murray (Sunday Express, 9.8.09) interprets the situation a little differently however: "Kate went to Lagos Marina, a few miles along the coast from Praia da Luz where her daughter vanished on May 3, 2007, and photographed the boat and the man on board."

It's anybody's guess perhaps, but if Kate McCann is herself a reliable source of information, then identification of this photographer, an anonymous friend of an anonymous friend, is long overdue. Someone who has a 'vision' over the weekend (she couldn't have had a premonition before Madeleine was taken, surely?) flies out to Portugal immediately, then makes straight for Lagos Marina to photograph the vessels moored there, must have had an extraordinarily strong sense of purpose. Otherwise we are left with evidentially valid (if not exactly solid) statements by Kate McCann, which appear to suggest that this maritime photography was accomplished during her own free time, before 4 May even. Make no mistake, when it comes to anticipation Kate McCann has already demonstrated some 'previous form' in that regard:
"From the moment Madeleine had gone, I'd turned instinctively to God and to Mary, feeling a deep need to pray, and to get as many other people as possible to pray, too. I believed it would make a difference. Although in the early days I struggled to comprehend what had happened to Madeleine, and to us, I've never believed it was God's fault, or that He 'allowed' it to happen. I was just confused that He had apparently not heeded the prayer I'd offered every night for my family: 'Thank you God for bringing Gerry, Madeleine, Sean and Amelie into my life. Please keep them all safe, healthy and happy. Amen.' Please keep them all safe. It must be said that when I'd prayed for their safety I'd been thinking: please don't let them fall off something and bang their heads, or please don't let them be involved in a car accident. I'd never considered anything as horrific as my child being stolen. But I had kind of assumed my prayer would cover every eventuality." (p.106).
As an adjunct to the present discussion, it is interesting, albeit for unwelcome reasons, that Kate McCann should consider a child's being involved in a car accident and suffering trauma at least, serious, possibly fatal injury at worst, nothing like as horrific as she herself suffering the consequences of theft.

But back to the matter in hand - Kate's sense of timing.

The entire ritual quoted above is prefaced by the phrase, 'From the moment Madeleine had gone,' giving the impression that the tendency to enhanced spirituality, and the prayers that went with it, was consequent upon the events of 3 May, i.e. the 'abduction.' But Kate had clearly been genuflecting nightly long before. As she says, 'I was just confused that He had apparently not heeded the prayer I'd offered every night for my family.' (God had not been listening even before 3 May, never mind afterwards). Included in Kate's prayer was the exhortation to 'keep them all safe' which, as Kate goes on to explain, embraced various categories of danger, as she'd actually been thinking: 'please don't let them fall off something and bang their heads, or please don't let them be involved in a car accident,' although she'd never considered anything as horrific as her child being stolen.

God stands exonerated therefore. Since 'abduction' per se was not itemised among the supplications, He cannot be blamed for overlooking it. The omission was Kate's entirely. So if God did not heed her prayer it must have been another detail of Kate's appeal he ignored. And these were? Well nothing like as generally relevant to well protected pre-school infants as 'keep them from head-lice, chicken-pox, cuts, bruises, respiratory problems etc.' or, with their developing independence, the myriad other misfortunes that might attend them. No, none of that. Gerry, Madeleine, Sean and Amelie were religiously insured against car accidents and falling off things. Madeleine was not driving when she was taken. So what risk, exactly, did God's agency not cover?

With thanks to Nigel at McCann Files

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