POLICE MOVE IN.. AS KATE TELLS OF PAIN Every hour I ask
myself 'Why did I think she was safe?' We have doubted what
we did & I do feel regret we weren't there
quietly sobs as she speaks for the first time of her guilt
about leaving little daughter Madeleine alone the night she
was snatched. "I feel desperately sorry to her that we
weren't there," she says.
"Every hour now, I still ask myself, 'Why did I think that
was safe?' But it did feel safe and so right. I do feel
regret. I've gone through all my life and said I never want
to have any regrets, but you can't not regret something like
Speaking without her husband Gerry at her side for the first
time, Kate, 38, reveals how she is haunted by the unbearable
regret that she wasn't there to protect her daughter.
In an emotional interview, in which she repeatedly breaks
down in tears, Kate says that if she could tell her
four-year-old daughter anything now, it would be that she
loves and misses her.
Clutching the pink Cuddle Cat toy which has been a constant
source of comfort to her since it was left lying in
Madeleine's bed the night she was taken, Kate says: "I want
to tell her we love her very much. She knows we're looking
for her, that we're doing absolutely everything and we'll
never give up."
Kate reveals how their happy girl had told her she'd had the
best day of her life before she fell asleep on the evening
Madeleine had spent the day at a kids' club near the
family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in Portugal,
swimming, face-painting and colouring-in with other
But Kate now plays over in her mind the heart-wrenching
words which could tragically be the last Madeleine ever said
She says: "As I put her to bed, she smiled at me and said,
'Mummy I've had the best day ever. I'm having lots and lots
Kate reveals Madeleine had been practising a dance at the
club which she was looking forward to showing her mum the
following day - "but I never got to see it".
After putting Madeleine and two-year-old twins
Sean and Amelie to bed, Kate
and Gerry joined friends at a tapas restaurant 50 yards from
their ground-floor villa.
They took turns to check on the children every half-hour.
But when Kate returned at about 10pm, she discovered
Recalling the moment she found her daughter's bed empty,
Kate says: "There was 20 seconds of disbelief where I
thought, 'That can't be right'. I was checking for her. Then
there was panic and fear. That was the first thing that hit.
I was screaming her name. I ran to the group. Everyone was
the same. It was total fear.
"I never thought for one second that she'd walked out. I
knew someone had been in the apartment because of the way it
had been left.
"But I knew she wouldn't walk out anyway. There wasn't a
shadow of a doubt in my mind she'd been taken."
Kate says she saw that Madeleine's toy Cuddle Cat had been
left behind, but was careful not to touch it in case it held
a clue to who took her.
She says: "I knew straight away a crime had been committed,
we had no doubt about that. We were very conscious of not
Speaking with moving honesty, Kate reveals how she asks
herself every day whether she and Gerry were wrong to leave
their children alone.
She says they felt so safe at the "family-friendly" resort
they didn't think twice about leaving Madeleine and the
twins - and she reveals how they'd left them alone every
evening as they ate dinner in the week until Madeleine was
taken on a Thursday night.
But she admits it was a decision that torments her with
every waking moment. "We've doubted what we did," Kate says.
"It's hard to answer the question, 'Were we wrong to leave
them?' If I'd had to think for one second, 'Should we have
dinner and leave them?' I wouldn't have done it.
"It didn't happen like that. I didn't have to think for a
second, that's how safe I felt. It's not like we went down
town or anything. That night runs over and over in my mind
and I'm sure people will learn from our mistake, if you want
to call it that. I love her and I'm a totally responsible
parent and that's the only thing that keeps me going."
Her eyes falling to Cuddle Cat, which she has reluctantly
washed after it became filthy from her carrying it around,
Kate adds: "I feel desperately sorry to her that we weren't
But Kate says she and Gerry have never blamed each other for
that night. She says: "We have a strong relationship. We
don't row. We talk a lot and that is vital at the moment."
Kate, a GP, can't imagine ever returning to the family's
home in Rothley, Leics, without Madeleine as it holds too
many memories of the bright and playful youngster.
She says: "I can't bear the thought of it. We had lived in
that house for a year and it was a really happy home. When
we left it the last time we were so excited. I can't think
about going back without her."
Speaking at a charity headquarters in Lagos, a 10-minute
drive from the apartment where Madeleine was kidnapped, Kate
says she had asked Gerry, 39, not to join her. She wanted to
express her feelings as a mother, and to say thank you to
all the mums who have sent her letters of support. Kate
says: "Sometimes I want to speak, but I just can't. It's not
natural for me. Gerry's used to having to speak at
conferences and it's harder for me. I've had so many letters
from mothers, really kind words. They have said, 'Kate,
we've done this a hundred times over ourselves'. I wanted to
say thank you for that support and reassurance."
Kate tells how she and Gerry had the agony of celebrating
Madeleine's fourth birthday
without her, eight days after she went missing.
She says: "She was due to have a party in the nursery,
including her best friend. That went ahead and quite
rightly. But it was hard to ignore the reason why they were
there, because Madeleine wasn't. Not having her there was
such a huge void."
Kate now wears a silver locket round her neck with a picture
of Madeleine inside and the words "Tower of Strength"
engraved on it.
She says a friend gave it to her because "that's what
Madeleine was to us, a tower of strength".
The McCanns have moved from the
two doors from
where Madeleine disappeared to a villa just outside the
resort as they continue their campaign to find her.
And Kate says they are still clinging to the hope she will
join them there. "We unpacked some of Madeleine's things.
I've kept her clothes together. She has lots of presents to
open that people have sent - mostly people who don't know
Kate also speaks for the first time of her first visit back
to the UK for a family baptism two weeks ago.
She says: "The hardest thing wasn't being in the UK, it was
to be with such close family and for Madeleine not to be
there. She's such a big part of our lives."
Conscious to speak of her in the present tense, she adds:
"Despite her small size she just has this huge presence. She
brings a lot of joy."
She says the twins often ask about their older sister. "They
know she's not there and they do miss her," Kate explains.
"But on a day-to-day basis they are happy. They're lovely,
like a little double act, they're so funny."
Smiling, she adds: "They talk about Madeleine's things and
if they get a biscuit they say, 'One for Sean, one for
Amelie, one for Madeleine'.
"There was an empty seat on the plane on our trip to the UK
and Sean said, 'That's Madeleine's seat'. Amelie asked me
afterwards, 'Where's Madeleine? I miss my big sister'.
"Amelie will point at the Cuddle Cat and say, 'Madeleine.
Her Cuddle Cat. Looking after it'. She's probably heard me
saying that. It catches me."
Kate reveals she still battles with nightmarish thoughts
that Madeleine might be dead. "I still have moments of panic
and fear. It's not as intense and unrelenting as the first
five days. We have hope now and it's important to hold on to
And she says she is still not considering returning home to
the UK. "It's a gut feeling. I'm aware there are probably
things that would be easier at home, but at the moment this
is the right thing for us."
With next Saturday marking
since Madeleine was snatched, Kate reveals her
heartache at each passing day without news of her.
She says: "I'm still hoping we're not going to get there.
Every day I'm hoping we won't get to the next day without
her. It's a long time. But we have to keep going for