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I WAS AFRAID TO GRAB HER

HOMEPAGE NEWS REPORTS INDEX NEWS AUGUST 2008
BARS PHOTOS CCTV PARAISO PJ TRANSLATIONS SIGHTINGS  & E-FIT PHOTOS
Original Source: NEWS OF THE WORLD SUN 10 AUGUST 2008
By Ross Hall, 10/08/2008
 

Witness was sure restaurant girl was Maddie but feared causing a scene

 

A VITAL new witness in the hunt for Madeleine McCann has told cops: 'I saw Maddie. I know it was her' I saw the unique blemish in her eye.'

 

Businessman Trevor Francis is certain he spotted the missing five-year-old in Venezuela just WEEKS ago. Because of the remarkable eye detail, Gerry and Kate McCann regard this as one of the most significant sightings.

Trevor, who swears he spotted Madeleine McCann in the Caribbean just weeks ago, has told of the haunting moment he saw the tell-tale blemish in her eye.

 

In a dramatic statement to police back in the UK yacht skipper Trevor Francis, 64, said the girl was with three women in a restaurant on the Venezuelan island of Margarita.

I'M CERTAIN: Witness Trevor

He recalled: 'Her eyes met mine as I walked past and that's when I saw the little blemish in her right eye'it was like a little fleck.'

 

And he added: 'I wanted to grab her or shout out her name and see what reaction I would get.

 

'But I was afraid to do anything and cause a scene. . . a huge ruckus would have erupted and it could have made things worse.

 

'I decided to get a good look to make sure it was her so I could come back to England and report it.'

 

Unlike all other reported sightings, fresh witness Trevor is the FIRST to get a clear view of the unique blemish matching Madeleine's eye.

 

McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell last night said the detail of his description was very significant.

 

He added: 'The investigation team are looking into this seriously. The eye makes it potentially more serious than other sightings.'

 

Our revelation climaxes a week in which the Portuguese police case files were released, highlighting reported sightings across the world since Madeleine went missing from the family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz a year ago. Many have already been discredited or ruled out.

 

But now the McCanns' private investigators are making urgent enquiries into the Margarita connection. Caribbean islands are on a regular sailing route from Portugal

 

Divorced dad of two Mr Francis, 64, built and owns a nursing home in Worthing, West Sussex, but spends most of his time on his five-bedroom yacht Northern Seas based in Margarita.

 

On a recent trip home to check on business interests he made a detailed hand-written statement to Sussex cops revealing he's certain he saw Madeleine on May 16 this year in the Lugar de Equenter restaurant in the town of Porlamar.

 

'I was in there having some lunch,' said Trevor. 'There was lots of light and nothing to obstruct my view.

 

'The door opened and three females with a little girl came in. They sat down at a table opposite me about 20 feet away. At first I did not take any notice as I was having trouble with my order. Then I glanced back and noticed the little girl was white with fair hair.

 

She really stood out

 

'There are sometimes white children in Venezuela but not as fair as this child. She really stood out. I was transfixed.

 

'She was the absolute image of the missing Madeleine McCann with chin-length straight fair hair, about four years old, a pretty girl.

 

'What I noticed most prominently were her eyes' they were big and staring. I shuffled in my seat so I could see 'Madeleine' clearly. I didn't pay much attention to the three women because I was concentrating on the little girl.

 

'However from what I saw I would say that they were all of Spanish/South American origin.

 

'Female '1' I can describe as being heavily built, dark short bobbed hair. Female '2' had bleached platinum blonde hair, with a slim build.

 

'The third had long black hair, she was heavily built. They were late 30s to early 40s. They weren't very pretty. They seemed to be local women as they didn't hesitate at finding a table when they came in and they seemed to know the waiters. One of the women was trying to feed the girl what looked like some sort of pasta dish.

 

'Although the girl looked healthy and well cared for, she was very sullen looking and refused to eat anything. Something just didn't fit. She looked unhappy and out of place.

 

'The women were talking amongst themselves and at the little girl. I couldn't understand, they were speaking in Spanish.

 

'The little girl wasn't saying anything, I watched her for about 20-30 minutes and decided to get a close look as I left the restaurant. Then I was four to five feet away.'

That was the dramatic moment Trevor spotted the tiny eye blemish. He said: 'I haven't been in England for all of the press coverage and updates about Madeleine McCann but I have seen photos of her on the news. From what I saw that day I am about 85 per cent certain that it was in fact Madeleine McCann.'

 

The eye blemish ' often referred to as the 'mark of Madeleine''has formed a key part in the campaign to highlight her disappearance. It is played up prominently on posters and videos. It is actually what doctors call a coloboma'or defect'of the iris. Figures suggest it occurs in only about 0.007 per cent of the population.

 

Witness Trevor's son Ben, 22, of Worthing told us last night: 'My dad is a very serious, credible and intelligent man. He's not the sort of person who would make things up. And he'd certainly never lie about something like this.'

Meanwhile, dozens of specialist police were drafted into Brussels yesterday after a bank security guard reported he saw a girl resembling her on Monday. He spoke out after case files revealed Scotland Yard had warned the child could have been stolen to order for a Belgian paedophile gang.

 

As detectives studied the CCTV pictures from the KBC bank in the rundown immigrant Molenbeek district, other officers trained in search techniques joined the hunt.

 

A spokesman said: 'We're taking this very seriously. House-to-house searches have started, and numerous people are being spoken to. We're determined to establish exactly who the little girl in the CCTV images is.'

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