Whatever happened to Madeleine McCann on the night of her disappearance from the family’s holiday apartment in Portugal in 2007 has been a hotly-debated mystery ever since.
Was she taken from the apartment in a pre-planned abduction, did she wander outside and be snatched by an opportunist, did she die inside the apartment, were her parents involved or are they innocent? These are probably the most popular theories but that is exactly what they are, theories; as of now, no-one seems to know the truth. And, if they do, they are not telling.
In courts all over the world, witnesses are required to swear or affirm, to make an oath to tell the truth; exact wording may vary but it will be something along the lines of “… that the evidence I give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”.
That is the key to what is legally defined as ‘evidence’. It needs to be the truth as far as the witness knows it, with nothing left out and nothing added in the way of opinions, supposition or hearsay – that is something heard from another person.
The only opinions allowed are from expert witnesses duly qualified in their roles.
There are, of course, room for various theories being checked out during the police investigation of a case, different leads are followed and many lead nowhere. That is only right as detectives should have open minds and no leads should be ignored. Similarly, people are often sought after being seen close to the scene of a crime – only to be eliminated from further enquiries.
When a case gets to court, however, those theories have gone. The court wants to hear the facts, the truth and nothing else.
Ok, there is often conflicting evidence given by prosecution and defence witnesses but, usually, it become obvious to jurors what is the truth.
In the case of Madeleine debate, however, there have been a number of instances of creation of supposed evidence to create backing for one theory or another – most often in support of a theory implicating her parents in her disappearance.
Now, I don’t know the truth; nor am I pushing forward any theory. Whether or not Kate and Gerry were involved is not my concern right now. I am just saying that it is extremely misleading for anyone’s words or pictures to be used out of context. It distorts the truth.
Such ‘evidence’ is actually influenced by opinion; it is not factual. As such, it would be inadmissible to a court and is unhelpful to everyone who is keen to find the truth.
As for my opinions, and I must stress that they are just that – opinions, do I believe that Madeleine will ever be found alive? Sadly, no. Do I think that we will find out what really happened? Again, no. Was she abducted or did she die in the apartment? I have no idea, the evidence so far is inconclusive. Were her parents involved? Once again, I have no idea but there is no evidence that they were, so ’innocent until proven guilty’.