Maddie dressed from top to toe in pink, her favourite colour
April 28, 2007, an excited Madeleine clambered up the steps to the
plane, squealing with delight as she held on to another little girl's
Dressed from top to toe in pink, her favourite colour, and carrying a
Barbie backpack, the angel-faced three-year-old could barely contain
Madeleine, her parents and younger siblings were going on holiday to the
Mark Warner Ocean Club in Praia de Luz, Portugal, with a group of
friends: Fiona Payne, her husband David, her mother Dianne Webster and
their two young daughters Scarlet and Lily; Matthew Oldfield, his wife
Rachael, and daughter Grace; Russell O'Brien, his partner Jane and their
two girls Eva and Ellie.
They intended to stay for a week, planning to return on Saturday, May 5,
seven days before Maddie's fourth birthday. The four families, nine
adults and eight children, had rented apartments at the Ocean Club in
Waterside Gardens Block 5. The McCanns' large flat, 5a, was on the
ground floor on a street corner with a public road running next to it.
Next to them in 5b were the Oldfields. Across the landing in 5d were
Russell and his family. On the floor above in 5h were the Paynes and
Fiona's mother Dianne.
families set into a regular routine. The McCanns had breakfast in their
apartment as they found it difficult getting the little ones up and
dressed and then taken to the resort's Millennium restaurant, especially
as the twins were only just mastering walking.
the evenings for the rest of their stay they gave the children tea
early, playing with them for an hour then putting them to bed in their
apartments. They would then go out to eat themselves. The resort had a
tapas bar and restaurant which they felt was ideally located, within
sight of their rooms and less than a minute's walk away. Rachael made a
block booking for the rest of the week so everyone knew what was
happening for the adult-only meals each evening.
resort did not offer a baby-listening service but the adults took it in
turns to check on the children. The Paynes had the added comfort of
using their own baby device which they placed outside the children's
bedroom. They were the only pair who had a good enough device to cover
the distance between the apartment and the restaurant. Russell and Jane
had a similar radio device but the reception was erratic and they could
not rely on it. The other couple had no such listening devices but the
general feeling among the parents was that they could barely imagine a
more secure place for their children.
families spent their days playing sports, with children at the resort's
children's club. There was a group gathering for tea at about 5pm,
before the children were put to bed and adult time began.
only cloud on the horizon came over breakfast on the morning of
Thursday, May 3. 'Why didn't you come when me and Sean were crying last
night'' Maddie grumbled.
Subconsciously Kate may have harked back to a strange premonition when
in a phone call to a friend she confided a niggling doubt about going on
the holiday, saying: 'I don't know why; I just feel uneasy.'
and Gerry did talk about their daughter's remark. 'Gerry and I spoke for
a couple of minutes and agreed to keep a close watch over the children,'
Kate recalled. They decided to make more frequent checks on them from
the tapas bar. On that Wednesday night when Maddie and Sean had been
unsettled, Rachael had stayed in her apartment with a tummy bug but
cannot recall hearing any crying from next door.
day of May 3 passed happily, with lots of activities before Madeleine
joined Sean and Amelie for tea with resort staff at 5.30pm. Kate put the
children to bed; Madeleine in her favourite pink pyjamas with Eeyore
from Winnie-The-Pooh on the front. At 7pm, Kate and Gerry relaxed in
their apartment before going to the tapas bar at 8.30pm.
left through the patio doors which remained unlocked, although they were
shut tight. The front door was shut but Gerry cannot remember whether he
put the double lock on or not. From the tapas bar they could see the
rear of their apartment over some bushes but they could not see all of
the patio doors because there was a wall in front. They could not see
the children's room either as it was at the front of the apartment. 'For
us, it wasn't very much different from having dinner in your garden, in
the proximity of the location. Thousands of people have either done
exactly the same or say they would have done the same,' Gerry said.
diners (apart from Kate and Gerry, they were later nicknamed the Tapas
Seven) chatted about the day and sipped wine. Kate and Gerry felt very
comfortable with their holiday friends. There was lots of laughter and
conversation over four bottles of wine but they were rarely all sitting
down together: the meal was punctuated by parents leaving to check on
children. Sometimes their paths crossed on the way to and from
about 9.05pm it was Gerry's turn to check on his three. They were all
asleep. Maddie was snuggled up with Cuddle Cat, her favourite toy. The
blanket was pulled close to her head. 'All's fine,' Gerry thought as he
closed the bedroom door and walked out through the patio doors.
the way back to the bar, he chatted with Jeremy Wilkins, a holidaymaker
he had met earlier at the resort's tennis courts. They were passed by
Jane at about 9.15pm going to check on boyfriend Russell who was nursing
their sick child. Gerry returned to the tapas bar 10 minutes later.
Shortly after 9.30pm a concerned Russell went back to check his poorly
child. He was accompanied by Matt, who had offered to save Kate the
trouble by checking on her children as well as his.
crept into the McCanns' apartment and found the children's door open. He
had no idea that Gerry had partially closed it. He glanced through it,
seeing Sean and Amelie asleep but during his quick check didn't set eyes
on Madeleine, whose bed was slightly hidden behind the door. The room
was silent and everything appeared fine. Both men rejoined the table
before 10pm. Shortly afterwards, Kate decided to check herself.
Within less than a minute she was walking through the patio doors. She
sensed something was wrong because the window was open. Then, to her
horror, she discovered that Maddie was missing. She frantically searched
the flat once, twice, three times and screamed 'Madeleine, Madeleine!'
Cuddle Cat had been abandoned in the bedroom. Kate's screams echoed
around the complex as she ran in blind panic back towards the tapas bar
shouting: 'Madeleine has gone. Someone has taken her!'