Madeleine: No proof only theories dominate sad story

maddie kate.gerryMadeleine McCann, aged 3 when first missing, and parents Gerry and Kate.

Disappearance of anyone is worrying but when the one missing is a child, it is more than a worry, it is disaster and a panic until, hopefully, the little one is quickly found and reunited with parents.

In the case of Madeleine McCann, however, we are now approaching the 9th anniversary of the date she was reported missing from the family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on Portugal’s Algarve coast.

What happened to her? Well, the truth is that we don’t know. It seems that no-one really knows – despite years of investigations by the Portuguese authorities, British police and private detectives. Operation Grange, the Scotland Yard investigation that has been cut back drastically since it began, has just been granted a final £95,000 for another six months. After that, the case is likely to be closed.

The only person or people who do know what happened are the ones responsible for Madeleine’s disappearance and, if she is still alive, the girl herself. There are those who favour various different scenarios. There are some who believe that the three-year-old was abducted from the apartment; there are others who believe she died in the apartment and that her parents disposed of the body.

On Facebook, people with these and similar opinions tend to be drawn into two types of groups, basically known as ‘pros’ and ‘antis’. The ‘pros’ are backers of the abduction theory and support the parents, while the ‘antis’ believe Madeleine died in the apartment and accuse the parents.

Both sides point to files of evidence collated by the Portuguese investigation and made public in 2008 under that country’s laws. They claim that different parts of the evidence give credence to their own opinions; their own pet theories.

Now, I know that this is likely to make me unpopular and even get me barred from some of Facebook’s ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ groups to which I belong (yes I am a member of both types) but there is one remarkable fact about the evidence so far made public. It does not support any particular theory over another. It does not indicate what actually happened; it does not point towards the involvement, much less guilt, of anyone.

‘Antis’ cite, as evidence of death in the apartment, the alerts made in the dog searches while the ‘pros’ dismiss this as uncorroborated by forensics and say the searches were badly run by the handler. Having watched the full unedited recording of the searches, I can see why the dog alerts were discounted by the Portuguese investigation.

The two sides also disagree about the involvement of Gonçalo Amaral as head of the Portuguese investigation. ‘Antis’ quote his belief that Madeleine died in the apartment, despite the fact that the evidence made public does not confirm that. The ‘pros’ point out that Amaral was once proven to have lied in another case. However, the fact that he lied once is not evidence or proof that he is lying this time. Amaral, now retired, has put his beliefs in a book which has not been published in the UK after the Madeleine’s parents took legal action.

So, where does that, and other arguments, leave us? Exactly where we started. All we know is that Madeleine was reported missing on the evening of May 3, 2007. Despite many, many reported ‘sightings’ around the world, she has never been found. Nor has a body ever been recovered.

The files of published evidence point absolutely nowhere.

It was a mystery in 2007; it is a mystery now. And that, I fear, is how it will always remain.

Home Alone : How young is too young to leave?

Home Alone was a box office hit about a young child accidentally left behind at Christmas.

Home Alone was a box office hit about a young child accidentally left behind at Christmas.

Many of us must have seen the 1990 American Christmas comedy Home Alone starring Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, a boy who is mistakenly left behind when his family flies to Paris for their Christmas vacation. Kevin initially relishes being home alone, but soon has to contend with two would-be burglars.

That was fiction but what about real life?

Much has been said, pondered or speculated about the what the law says about leaving children alone and unsupervised and this has been especially true in the UK after the mysterious disappearance of British three-year-old Madeleine McCann nine years ago on May 3, 2007.

in happier times: Gerry and Kate McCann with their twins and Madeleine.

In happier times: Gerry and Kate McCann with their twins and Madeleine.

She is believed to have been abducted from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia de Luz, Portugal, while her parents and up to seven friends enjoyed a night out in a tapas bar some 50 or so yards away. Madeleine was left sleeping in the same room as her younger twin brother and sister with no babysitter and one outside door left unlocked. Her parents sought to ensure the children’s safety through a series of checks being made by themselves or one of their friends every half-hour.

It was when it was Madeline’s mother Kate’s turn to check that she raised the alarm that her daughter was not in bed or anywhere in the apartment. Since then, there has been a wealth of people asking questions on social media and elsewhere about what the law says about leaving children alone.

When I was aged seven, my parents left my 14-year-old sister in charge when they went to see a movie. Later, when I reached 14, I regularly babysat youngsters while their parents went out. It paid quite well, I seem to remember.

So, is 14 some sort of magic age in UK law when you are considered mature enough to be responsible for younger children? And, at what age can you legally leave them alone?

Well, surprising as it may be, UK law doesn’t specify an age when you can leave a child on their own but it is an offence to leave a child alone if it places him or her at risk. So, it is up to parents to be responsible and to use their judgement on how mature their child is before deciding to leave him or her alone at home – or even in a car.

The children’s charity, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has some pretty exacting guidelines which can be found on the government website that addresses the question of leaving children alone: https://www.gov.uk/law-on-leaving-your-child-home-alone.

The NSPCC says that children under 12 are rarely mature enough to be left alone for a long period of time; that children under 16 shouldn’t be left alone overnight; and that babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone.

There is also a stark warning that “Parents can be prosecuted if they leave a child unsupervised ‘in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health’.”

 

Madeleine McCann mystery story changes and smears

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Kate and Gerry McCann seen leaving church on Madeleine’s 4th birthday. No balloons, no smiles in this picture.

 

Before being hospitalised last week, I made a promise to various people to look into what they say is false ‘evidence’ against Gerry and Kate McCann, parents of Madeleine who disappeared nearly nine years ago from the family’s holiday apartment in Portugal.

Little did I realise at the time that I would be rushed to hospital and that my promise would be delayed until after Katie Hopkins column, in the UK’s Daily Mail, headed We’ll never know what really happened to Maddy

The promise I made followed my blog post on February 16 entitled Madeleine McCann mystery – we may never know truth (similar heading, huh?) For some reason that I still don’t fully understand, my independent and unbiased post was seen by some pro-McCann people as being ‘anti’ and one person even said I had my own agenda.

I was criticised for spreading misinformation – which I didn’t. But don’t take my word for it; read the original blog post by following this link https://50shadesofsun.com/?p=1601 and then, please, come back here.

Ok, points to clear up first: My working life has been as a journalist. I always make it clear when expressing my opinion as opposed to just reporting a story. In my original post I did not indicate support for or condemnation of Madeleine’s parents – except that they had to take part of the blame for leaving the three children unsupervised and unprotected while at dinner in a nearby tapas bar. On this point, which is my opinion, I don’t actually see much disagreement from even the most ‘pro’ of the pro-parent side of the McCann debate.

Another of my opinions concerns tampering with records of what happened to make something else appear true. This is about the same as giving different accounts of events when asked at different times; otherwise known as changing your story.

The two pictures I used in the last post, of the parents leaving church on Madeleine’s 4th birthday, showed them smiling but at that time I knew nothing of the video. Having now watched it, I can tell you that someone went to the trouble of isolating the smiles, caused by an incident with birthday balloons, to completely misrepresent the situation. The parents were not smiling the entire time, just briefly because of the balloons. Other pictures from the same video would tell a completely different story.

FAKE - Kate and Gerry's heads have been added to another picture.

FAKE – Kate and Gerry’s heads have been added to another picture.

REAL - The original picture used to produce the fake.

REAL – The original picture used to produce the fake.

Similarly, there is a picture purporting to show Kate and Gerry counting money. Apart from this being highly unlikely in the circumstances, to me it at first appeared unimportant. But then another picture appeared. In every detail the pictures are identical complete with the same bodies and hands but, this time, with different heads.

There can be no doubt that trickery has been used here to create an image that never took place.

Hmm, trickery by the anti-parents campaigners? Looks like the pro-parent ones may be right. Or does it?

This is where so many questions need to be asked.

Police asked how did they leave their apartment to go to dinner? Both said: Through the front, which they locked. Later, both changed to through the patio door, left unlocked as it did not lock from outside. The front door may not have been locked either, they admitted.

Initial reports of the ‘abduction’ were about the window’s shutters being ‘jemmied open’ but there was no evidence of that. Statements about the window being opened by the abductor for escape with the child were nonsense as two easier routes were available – ie both unlocked doors.

I am not attempting to reach a conclusion here, except to say that that there is far too much to uncover, so much to delve through that I doubt the true facts about that night will ever be known. After nearly nine years, I believe the trail has gone cold.

OPINION

On the one point on which I am positive, charges should be brought against both Kate and Gerry McCann for child neglect because even a half-hourly check-up does not mean that the kids were not left alone. Further, for leaving doors unlocked, I would add charges of placing children in danger.

They may not be complicit in crimes of abduction or murder but they are certainly guilty of being irresponsible parents.

And if it can be proved who faked the pictures, I’d charge them too.

 

Madeleine McCann mystery: We may never know truth

madeleine poster madeleine church

Left: A poster issued as part of the search. Right: All smiles from Kate and Gerry McCann as they leave church on Madeleine’s 4th birthday, May 12 2007, just nine days after their daughter went missing.

Strange and unsolved, the case of Madeleine McCann who disappeared from Praia da Luz, Portugal, almost nine years ago has been thrust back into the spotlight by her mother leading a two-week appeal in a bid to get a million people in the UK to register for Child Rescue Alerts.

The free scheme – funded by The Royal Mail – sends early warning messages to mobiles, computers and tablets when a child goes missing. 

Kate McCann said that the alert system, which she helped launch, could have “mobilised” people at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance.

The long investigation into Madeleine’s alleged abduction from the family’s holiday apartment while her parents were out enjoying dinner with friends, has always been controversial. There has been criticism of the handing of the investigation by the Portuguese police, accusations made against possible suspects and thousands of reported sightings from around the globe. Areas have even been excavated. But, during all this, not one concrete fact has ever been uncovered.

All that is definitely known is that Madeleine disappeared and is no longer with her family.

The mystery surrounding the case has brought forth much controversy with allegations of abduction and murder with some accusing Kate and her husband Gerry McCann of being involved in whatever happened to their daughter.

There are social media pages supporting the couple and others attacking them.

Whatever the truth is, Madeleine’s parents cannot be absolved of all blame. The fact remains that her abduction, if that really was what happened, took place while they were eating out with their friends having left their children in bed but without a babysitter or any other form of adult supervision or protection. Many people do not think that was an example of responsible parenting and I have to say that I agree with them.

Then, just nine days after their little girl disappeared, the couple emerged from church and were photographed smiling broadly. That only gave more ammunition to those who believe that they were complicit in the crime.

Regretfully and sadly, we will probably never know the full truth about what happened to little Madeleine McCann.