True Crime Analysis, Breakthroughs, Insights & Discussions Hosted by Bestselling Author Nick van der Leek

Category: McCann (Page 1 of 4)

The Smith Sighting is Absolutely Crucial to finding Madeleine McCann’s Abductor – both the abductor and Madeleine were seen at close quarters by several members of the Smith Family on the night of May 3rd at around 22:00

The individual seen by the Smith family is regarded as the prime suspect in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance.

Read the original police statement here.

Read about my investigation into the Smith sighting and simulation of the abduction, during my visit to Praia da Luz Portugal on the night of May 3rd, 2019 in DEEPER INTO DARKNESS.

“Gerry didn’t [couldn’t] explain corpse odor in Apartment 5A”

This damning article on cadaver traces was published on August 6th, 2008 in Portugal’s Diário de Notícias. To read the original report, click the link, then right click and hit “Translate to English”.

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Isn’t it strange that you only find negative coverage of the McCanns in the foreign media coverage?

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Crime Rocket is in Portugal – follow #DeepIntoDarkness to find out why

True crime never rests, true crime research never sleeps. If it seems like CrimeRocket is on hiatus, well, I’m sharpening the saw elsewhere.

For ten days I’ve been on the ground in a tourist resort on the Algarve known as Praia da Luz. I’m following up a number of lines of inquiry I first wrote about in the DOUBT trilogy, in 2017.

This year I wanted to be in the area at the exact time, and on the same date as the abduction. Follow the hashtag #DeepIntoDarkness on Twitter and Instagram to get a sneak peek on where I’ve been and what’s coming soon.

“The McCanns insisted they had given their children nothing more potent than Calpol, which is a painkiller and has no sedative effect.” – Sunday Times, 9 September 2007, Victims of the rumour mill?

It’s a popular misconception that Calpol Night helps children to sleep.

Is it really?

On the same day the McCanns finally arrived home at the end of a disastrous summer in Portugal, the Sunday Times published an analysis of how the well-to-do British parents [both doctors] had been unfairly victimized by Portuguese cops and Portuguese tabloid media.


One of the “most powerful rumours” quoted in the article was this one:

The inference is that the gossip surrounding the use of a Calpol as a sedative cannot possibly be true simply because – medically speaking – Calpol isn’t a sedative.

Do a Google search of “Calpol sedative” and Google will inform you that:


This must mean that the article in the Sunday Times, especially the bit about Calpol having “no sedative effect” was 100% accurate, right?

Well, it depends on “when”. If the question is: Does Calpol Night have a sedative effect today? the answer is no. The date of the article cited in the Google search [February 16, 2005] seems to predate the incident involving Madeleine McCann by over two years.

The problem with the assessment that the active ingredients have no sedative effect is that they don’t refer to the actual active ingredient that does: diphenhydramine hydrochloride.

There are three important points to raise in this respect:

1. While the original Calpol Night did contain Paracetamol, and while Paracetamol is a painkiller as opposed to a sedative [confirming the accuracy of the text above] the other active ingredient is used to treat coughs and runny noses.


It dries nasal secretions and is, as such, an antihistamine. Antihistamines are famously sedating, and diphenhydramine hydrochloride is no exception. So the original Calpol Night does have a sedative effect, despite the claim in the Sunday Times that this was a rumour, and apparently the same claim by the doctors at the centre of the allegations that it had no sedative effect.

2. What is astonishing is that the Sunday Times either was ignorant of the well-known trend in British to sedate their children using cough-medicine in the decade following 2000, or was deliberately ignorant. In other words, they either misled their readers on a misconception that wasn’t, or they did so accidentally. A year and ten days after “setting the record straight on the safety of Calpol” the same newspaper referred to the “Calpol generation” in a headline, and the dangers of the medication leading to long term side-effects.


3. By March 2009 the original formula of Calpol Night was discontinued, and the product packaging of the replacement product was altered to reflect this. After coming under review, it was no longer recommended to dose any children under six years of age with Calpol Night. [Madeleine McCann was three-years-old at the time of her disappearance]. Some of the side effects associated with the original formula now officially included drowsiness, hallucinations and potentially serious liver and kidney damage.

The Calpol product that replaced Calpol Night in 2009 doesn’t have a sedative effect. The Calpol product that existed at the time something happened to the doctors’ daughter during their holiday in Portugal in 2007, absolutely did.

More: Are we using too much Calpol? – The Telegraph [2005]

Doctors are now being told to prescribe Calpol instead of antibiotics to children – Daily Mail [2017]

Are we raising a generation of Calpol kids? Doctor warns in TV doc that our children are overdosing on drugs – The Mirror [2018]

Madeleine McCann cops thought Kate and Gerry had accidentally killed Maddie with Calpol overdose, Netflix documentary reveals – The Sun [2019]

Madeleine McCann Media Coverage [Summer 2007]

The archive below* covers the period end-of-May to early-September 2007. Most of the archive below refers to coverage specifically relating to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. In some cases other references are also included to sketch the “zeitgeist” at the time.

30 May 2007

‘We want Maddy to be found… yesterday’

31 May 2007

Are the McCanns playing it right?

Portuguese police consult clairvoyants

01 June 2007

04 June 2007

06 June 2007

McCanns forced to defend themselves

Mothers to name and shame absent fathers

07 June 2007

We’re good parents not suspects, say McCanns

How to spot a liar: tell it backwards

09 June 2007

‘Madeleine’ call made from Argentina phone

10 June 2007

Parents fear they must return without Maddy

…yesterday Mr McCann, a medical consultant from Rothley, in Leicestershire, said: ”The time has come for a contingency plan.” Seated next to his wife in the flat on the Algarve where they have been staying with their two-year-old twins, Amelie and Sean, Mr McCann said: ”We will not give up, but there will be a different way of doing it. I can see myself having to go back to the UK to meet with people, it is just more efficient to do things over there.

”It will be very, very hard. The last time I was back, I couldn’t even go into the house. I found it hard enough going to Rothley.” Mrs McCann admitted she would prefer to stay in Portugal. ”I feel very close to Madeleine here,” she said. ”She could actually be further away from here than she is from the UK but I feel emotionally close to her here. People have told me I could do the same, if not more, back in the UK, but I can’t face leaving here.”

The couple agreed, however, that they need a break. ”We can’t keep doing the same thing week after week. The coverage will dwindle away,” Mr McCann said.

11 June 2007

Maddy detective accused of beating suspect

13 June 2007

Letter claims Madeleine is ‘buried under rocks’

14 June 2007

McCanns blast newspaper over tip off

15 June 2007

Police abandon scrubland search for Madeleine

16 June 2007

Parents face total ban on smacking

The EU’s strength is its diversity

17 June 2007

19 June 2007

Fathers choose children over careers

30 June 2007

McCann ‘extortion’ couple in court

“Police began to investigate them after getting information that they had tried to contact Madeleine’s parents to collect a reward.”

01 July 2007

Glasgow attack: Police explode car at hospital

02 July 2007

Madeleine’s parents leave Algarve resort

03 July 2007

Screaming fans at Harry Potter premiere

07 July 2007

10 July 2007

Madeleine McCann suspect questioned again

11 July 2007

13 July 2007

Madeleine McCann friends confront suspect

16 July 2007

Harry Potter to help in search for Madeleine

18 July 2007

Tabloid Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias has claimed that police have intercepted emails and phone calls between the McCanns and their friends in recent weeks which “prove” the theory Madeleine was killed inside the apartment.The same paper claimed that it was specks of Madeleine’s blood found by British sniffer dogs this week inside her apartment bedroom.

However the samples have only just been sent to a laboratory in Birmingham for tests, which could take up to two weeks to process.Mrs Oldfield said: “They are throwing mud at us and we are not able to defend ourselves. It does not help to find Madeleine. We just have to hope the investigation progresses to a point where something concrete comes out of it.”She added that she still believed it was an abduction.

“There would only be a small window for somebody to do it (abduct Madeleine) but presumably if somebody had been watching our movements then it would have been possible,” she said.Mrs Oldfield was with her husband Matthew, a doctor, as part of a group of seven adults the McCanns were holidaying with.The others dining on May 3 were the McCanns, Jane Tanner, Russell O’Brien, David and Fiona Payne and another person who has not been named, but is thought to be the mother of one of those present.

Kate and Gerry McCann said regular visits were made to check on the children as they ate 100 yards away from them at a tapas restaurant on the Ocean Club complex.But the exact chronology of the night has never been revealed.Some reports have claimed there were “discrepancies” between the times the group members had given to police on what happened on the night she disappeared.Mrs Oldfield said this was not correct, adding: “When we gave a statement to police in Portugal we were told it is all confidential. We have stuck to that. We are all good citizens and have integrity.”

British police are continuing to carry out a review of evidence in Portugal and specialist sniffer dogs have been searching beaches and scrubland areas.

Meanwhile, Mr and Mrs McCann continued to campaign for Madeleine’s plight and wider issues of child protection.Mrs McCann, speaking on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, called for a Europe-wide “quick response” system to react to reports of child abductions.She said that abductions were more common than many parents realised.

Britain’s child protection measures, such as the sex offenders’ register and system of Criminal Record Bureau checks, should be enforced across the continent, she said.She added that the United States – which her husband visited a few weeks ago – seemed far ahead in its ability to respond to child kidnappings.Citing statistics from the Protect American’s Children organisation, Mrs McCann said that during 2002-03 there were 1,000 attempted child abductions in England and Wales. She said 100 children were successfully kidnapped by strangers.

“It’s really important that parents know these things and take extra care,” she said. “Systems need to be in place across Europe for a quick-response for children that have gone missing. All countries in Europe should have a sex offenders register and Criminal Bureau Checks in place.“It is important that the general public are informed about the scale of the problem. I was horrified of things that I have learned about since this happened.”

09 August 2007

Madeleine parents ‘should leave Portugal’

“People are thinking this is not a safe place to bring their children and have cancelled holidays here.”

Mr and Mrs McCann have declared repeatedly they do not want to return home without Madeleine and have stayed in Praia da Luz as the investigation continues. But family friends now fear they are being “hounded out”.

Mr and Mrs McCann today stopped using the creche at the Ocean Club, where they have dropped off twins Sean and Amelie to be looked after every day since the disappearance of Madeleine.They are said to be aware that it is now causing disruption to other families using the facility because of the increased presence of Portuguese media.

Mr McCann has also not updated his daily blog on the campaign website – family are said to want to keep a low profile “until the storm blows over”.

10 August 2007

Madeleine’s parents shouldn’t ‘over-protect’

Madeleine McCann’s mother: ‘Don’t bully us’

Yesterday some locals called for “those bloody McCanns” to leave Portugal and they were asked to remove their twins from a crêche after it was repeatedly surrounded by Portuguese journalists.In a frank interview last night, the couple hit back. Mrs McCann said: “It’s sticks and stones. We will never go through anything worse than being parted from Madeleine. We will not be leaving or be forced out. I am not prepared to be bullied into doing something that I don’t want to.

“This speculation and the actions of the Portuguese press has been hurtful, intrusive and disrespectful to our other two children. The press here have badly overstepped any reasonable line.”A frantic week of claim and counter-claim has followed revelations that British sniffer dogs had uncovered new evidence – including specks of blood, hairs and fibres – in the bedroom where Madeleine disappeared on May 3. The Portuguese press turned on the family and their friends, claiming that the three-year-old was killed inside the apartment.

Mr McCann said: “There has been a lot of speculation and clearly there has been a shift in the investigation. But we do not know of any new evidence to suggest that Madeleine is not alive.”The key thing is the lack of any evidence during the initial investigation of serious harm coming to her. That is what has given us hope.”

The couple are determined to remain in Praia da Luz as the investigation continues, but Mrs McCann admitted to feeling “trapped” by the current storm. On Tuesday, she could not get out of the Mark Warner Ocean Club crêche with her two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie, because of a scrum of Portuguese journalists. They were asked yesterday to stop using it. Mr McCann said: “Mark Warner has been incredibly supportive of us throughout but they have come under a bit of pressure and we agreed not to go for a while. They offered us alternative arrangements.”

11 August 2007

Vigil for Madeleine after 100-day search

Police admit Madeleine McCann might be dead

‘Mass exodus’ of holidaymakers

12 August 2007

McCanns ‘heartened’ not to be suspects

Madeleine McCann search gets nasty

There is no denying that the McCanns’ relationship with the Portuguese press and police has become increasingly strained. Last week’s confrontation was just one more example of how the couple, who were swamped with sympathy by the townspeople of Praia da Luz in the early months of the hunt for their daughter, are now under attack from that same community….The all-too-sad truth is that the wealth of goodwill that once buoyed the McCanns is turning against them. It is an open secret in Praia da Luz that, while in public they never criticise the Portuguese police investigation, in private the couple have their doubts about the manner in which Guilhermino Encarnação is heading the inquiry.His blunders have been well documented and the McCanns prefer to deal with Luis Neves, the third detective involved in the case. Even Encarnação’s own officers joke that he “prefers long lunches to working”.

The harsh fact is that the public’s compassion is fickle. “People here are finding it all a little tiresome,” says Sheena Rawcliffe, the managing director of The Resident, the town’s English language weekly magazine.“Of course our hearts go out to them. But people are asking the blunt question: why did they leave the children alone? Why remain here? The McCanns need closure, but so, too, do the people of Luz. A backlash has begun and I believe it could get ugly before long.”Local business people continue to pay lip service to recognising the trauma suffered by the McCanns, but they point out that the sustained media eye on the resort is harming them. Hotels, restaurants and bars say takings are down and blame it on the negative image the town has.“The feeling is that they have outstayed their welcome,” one said. “Everyone here has contributed to the find Madeleine fund but it bothers us that it is not a charity. And that is because it is solely aimed at one child. Only when her case is resolved would the money go towards other missing children.”

The McCanns, of course, see things differently. “I am not sure I will ever be able to return to our Rothley home,” Kate admits. “I feel to leave Luz would be to abandon Madeleine. I can never, ever do that. “She insists she will not be bullied into leaving. But she must also be aware that the expatriate community has also become increasingly angry about the vilification of Robert Murat, the only suspect in the case.“The McCanns are attracting criticism because they refuse to divulge the exact details and timings of what happened on the night Madeleine disappeared.They are doing so because, under Portuguese law, such information would be prejudicial to the inquiry.But hasn’t the time now come for them to flout the law and clarify these details – in the hope that it somehow might help the investigation.Who is going to prosecute them for breaking a privacy law when their child’s welfare is at stake?”

15 August 2007

Madeleine sniffer dogs detect scent of body

17 August 2007

Madeleine McCann’s siblings told she is missing

18 August 2007

McCann twins told: Madeleine is missing

19 August 2007

Madeleine McCann parents to leave Portugal

20 August 2007

New suspect in Madeleine McCann case

The Public Prosecutor’s Office, which directs the police inquiry, signed a series of documents on Friday, ordering the PJ in Faro to put detectives on standby and authorising search warrants at locations that may be linked to the disappearance of Madeleine 109 days ago.

Staff from the Ocean Club complex, where Madeleine disappeared on May 3, will be also be re-interviewed today. A police source said: “We are re-interviewing several witnesses in order to clarify details that may be relevant to the new line of inquiry in light of facts we have found.”Pamela Fenn, 70, who lives in the apartment above where the McCanns were staying, and her niece, who is flying to Portugal from the UK, will be among those spoken to.Mrs Fenn has said that in the weeks leading up to Madeleine’s disappearance she scared off an intruder in her apartment.

There was no apparent sign of a break-in and it is thought the man may have had a key to let himself into the flat. She will be making a formal statement today at police headquarters in the city of Portimao. There was also another burglary in the complex a few weeks before in which police also suspected the intruder had a key.Mrs Fenn’s niece was staying with her aunt in the week that the McCanns were on holiday. She saw a suspicious-looking man hanging around the McCanns’ apartment about the time Madeleine vanished.

21 August 2007

Madeleine McCann’s parents told not to leave

22 August 2007

Complaints over Maddy ad rejected

24 August 2007

Paedophile is spared jail

26 August 2007

McCanns call for media obsession to end

27 August 2007

McCanns frustrated over Madeleine inquiry

30 August 2007

Madeleine McCann chief detective sacked



The Telegraph 2007 Archive

Madeleine McCann’s disappearance: A timeline – Sky News

Madeleine McCann disappearance timeline – The Telegraph

What happened on the day Madeleine disappeared? – The Guardian

When did Madeleine McCann go missing? The timeline of her disappearance – Daily Star

Madeleine McCann: A timeline of her disappearance – Cosmopolitan

Madeleine McCann disappearance: a timeline of events – Heart

Timeline changed in hunt for missing girl – rte

Timeline of events in Madeleine McCann disappearance ‘changed’, say UK police – Daily Motion


Question about a detail (timelines)




Lawyer Neighbour Claims She Saw McCanns “Airing” Their Renault Scenic Rental – At Night

In detective Goncalo Amaral’s book Truth of the Lie he doesn’t spend a lot of time on the subject of a neighbour who came forward and said [anonymously] that she thought she saw the McCanns “ventilating” their rental vehicle. Including at night.

Near the end of his chapter “The Hypothesis of Death is Considered” Amaral makes the following passing remark:

Later, I am brought the witness statement of a neighbour, according to whom, the McCanns left their car boot open all the time. For Gerry’s brother-in-law, the bad smell was explained by the fact that the McCanns transported their bins in it. As for the blood, it had been left by a piece of meat fallen out of a shopping bag. Kate’s cousin explained that the unpleasant smells were due to the little ones’ dirty nappies.

None of that stands up to scrutiny faced with the reactions of these dogs, who are thoroughly trained to detect only blood and cadaver odours.

Amaral provides more detail in the documentary based on his book, and the neighbour also comes forward [though her face is not shown] where she discusses what she thought she saw. This aspect is covered from 4:20 in the clip below.

The neighbour, a lawyer [whom Amaral refers to as a “juror” in the translation] seems to be a credible witness. One of her more memorable statements is this one:

 “I drive down this street every day to turn my car around at that end and every time that I passed the house and I looked at the car, and the car always had an open boot door, day or night. I often passed at night and always verified it. It was a fact, I reported it and that was it”.

What you won’t often see, or hear about, is a report published in the Daily Express on 14 September 2007, which appeared to show the cadaver dogs tracked cadaver odor from Apartment 5A on a direct route to the coast.

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The Daily Express sensationally described this 1 mile beeline route from the hotel to the coast as “The Trail of Death”.


But other international media reported on the same findings.


The cover of the Daily Express that same day trumpeted MADELEINE WAS ‘KILLED BY SLEEPING PILLS’.


The Telegraph reported on the same claim on the same day.

Guilhem Battut, an investigative reporter for the French tabloid France Soir, said Portuguese police had given prosecutors a file detailing how they thought Madeleine had died. Battut – an experienced journalist who has worked on a number of major inquiries – claims police believe that evidence found in the McCanns’ hire car will “prove that the little girl had ingested medicines, without doubt sleeping pills, in large quantities”.

A source at the newspaper claimed: “We are not simply repeating rumours carried in other papers. This is not a theory, but a fact contained in hard evidence in the hands of the Portuguese authorities. “It is all very well putting theories and opinions forward, but in the end this case will be decided on evidence. As journalists, we have been trying to establish what evidence is available.”

DNA evidence which has reportedly been found in the hire car includes hair, blood and bodily fluids which match Madeleine’s. Police are said to want to examine the vehicle again. It is currently being kept in a safe place by the family who are considering having their own tests carried out on it as they strive to prove their innocence.Portuguese police are said to be drawing up a list of 40 new questions that they want to put to Mrs McCann. But British forensic experts expressed doubts over the claim.

Alan Baker, of the independent forensic science organisation Bericon, said: “These samples are likely to be far from ideal. If it is just a smear or dried deposit you could detect the drug but not how much.”Jamie150907_468x362

Last night friends of the family dismissed the latest speculation. Gerry McCann reportedly told a friend: “There are large craters in every one of these theories, in these ludicrous accusations.’ “As far as Kate and I are concerned there is no evidence to suggest that Madeleine is dead. We are 100 per cent together on this, not one grain of suspicion about each other.”

A close friend of Mrs McCann’s said: “She is a gentle mother who loves her children very much.”

An article in the February 2008 edition of Vanity Fair notes Kate McCann’s explanation for why the cadaver dogs sensed cadaver odour on the key fob of the rental vehicle. It was because Kate McCann had been around cadavers just before her trip to the Algarve.


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The Daily Express six months earlier had been more specific, reporting that Kate had apparently said she’d come into contact with six corpses “in the weeks” before the holiday. Of course the car was also hired weeks after the incident.

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Renault Scenic 59-DA-27

Errrm…I have a few questions about the “Disappearance of Madeleine McCann” Wikipedia Page

I suppose the most obvious question is: who wrote it? In the list of 298 citations, 50 references refer to Summers & Swan, the authors of Looking For Madeleine.  Summers & Swan are also the main narrators of the recent £20 million 8-part Netflix documentary series on the McCann case. It’s strange than 1 in 6 citations refer to only one narrative of the case when there are at least half a dozen others.

In the shorter list of Works Cited, Summers & Swan appears again as one of 14 “authoritative” works on the case, another being Kate McCann’s book.

Now we already know the disgraced British PR firm Bell Pottinger has – in the past – been implicated in editing Wikipedia pages to their own specifications. One example is explicated in this TimesLive article from July 2017: Bell Pottinger’s wicked Wiki ways.

Extracts of the article include:

In 2012, 10 user accounts linked to Bell Pottinger were stopped from making edits to Wikipedia pages after an investigation by British journalists revealed the firm’s evasion of ethical guidelines set out by Wiki founder Jimmy Wales. He was quoted by the BBC at the time as saying he was “highly critical of their ethics” and began an investigation into what appeared to be the firm’s manipulation of Wikipedia content.

This was after the Bureau of Investigative Journalists caught Bell Pottinger executives on hidden a camera bragging about, among other things, having a team that “sorts” Wikipedia pages. In December 2011, Bell Pottinger executives were caught out by journalists who secretly filmed and recorded them boasting about their political influence over the British prime minister and their proficiency at “dark arts”.

Bell Pottinger was involved in providing PR to Kate and Gerry McCann, as well as Oscar Pistorius and the infamous Gupta Brothers [through Oakbay Investments].

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Leveson Inquiry: as it happened November 23

Authors in Madeleine McCann documentary living in Waterford believe ‘her abduction was planned’

Madeleine McCann: ‘I listened for 15 seconds and knew they were innocent’

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Who Can Assist This Reader/Reviewer?

I get it a lot. The raven. Why is there a raven? I don’t understand why there is a raven?

Anyone have any ideas?

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Amazon banned Criminal Profiler Pat Brown’s book on the Madeleine McCann case

Madeleine McCann Netflix documentary could trigger fresh legal action by parents – The Mirror

‘IT’S ALL NONSENSE’ Kate and Gerry McCann may sue over ‘lunatic conspiracy theory’ video blaming them for Maddie’s disappearance – The Sun

Madeleine McCann’s parents win libel payout – BBC

Kate and Gerry McCann Suing Sunday Times over ‘Madeleine Clue’ Defamation – Internatrional Business Times

Kate McCann Has Threatened To Sue Social Media Users – LadBible

Madeleine McCann parents lose appeal against author who alleged they were involved in her disappearance – The Independent

Never heard before court audio reveals the battle and consequences of the McCanns’ feud with lead Portuguese detective Goncalo Amaral.

DOUBT is available exclusively on at this link and here. And yes, there will be ravens [better get used to it!]

Analysing 5A: The Balcony and the Bougainvillea

True crime asks simple questions. When? Where? How? Why? Sometimes we don’t get satisfactory answers to one of these questions. When [time of death] – for example – can be particularly troublesome.

In a few cases we may have uncertainty around not one, not two but all of these questions. This is particularly true when the body is never recovered, or [as in the Watts case] chemically destroyed beyond the ken of powerful technologies that would usually shed some light.

Just as in the Chris Watts case, troubling uncertainty persists about where the crime was executed in the McCann case. While many of the hordes have moved on with Chris Watts’ “Second Confession” narrative, they seem to have forgotten the alerts the cadaver dogs made inside the house, including in the basement. These are now simply dismissed as dogs barking for no reason at all. Of course, the same scenario presents itself in the McCann case. Dogs alert, but inconclusive DNA results then “proves” the dogs weren’t necessarily right. But what if they were?

In the McCann case if we are to persist in asking about where Madeleine died [assuming she died on May 3rd at the apartment], there’s clearly no obvious answer. Amaral seems to think the forensic evidence points towards the child falling on the tiled floor beside the couch, and suffering a significant wound leading to arterial spray.

To my mind a significant wound causing significant arterial spray and a fall from less than one vertical metre aren’t compatible. That’s not to say not possible, simply unlikely in my view.

A more plausible scenario for a serious, life-threatening injury is a fall from at least twice that height or even more, and onto an irregular surface.

While researching the DOUBT trilogy, I started investigating an area of the apartment that – to the best of my knowledge – no one else has looked at in any detail. It’s the balcony area outside the main bedroom.

As I persisted in my research I grew increasingly frustrated with this line of inquiry. I couldn’t find any information! I discovered to my chagrin, if there are two areas that are least documented in the Madeleine McCann case they are 1) the balcony outside the main bedroom and 2) the area directly under the balcony.

Typically the view one sees in the media of apartment 5A is this sort of image:


In effect you can see almost none of apartment 5A other than the two windows on the east elevation, and the entrance to the patio doors.  It’s a patently useless image yet it’s the default image used to depict the scenario rather than the actual crime scene.

Here’s another example of a view of nothing.


And another.


And another.


And another.


Interestingly, in my attempt to see the balcony from the outside, I was by default proving how nonsensical the statement was that the parents could easily see their apartment from the Tapas Bar [and thus have a reasonable idea that their children were safe]. In point of fact, even from a few metres away, it’s impossible to see the patio doors, let alone a small child moving on the balcony.

I suppose one can argue semantics and say technically a portion of the apartment is visible from a distance, and so if that’s the case the apartment is visible. But when the parents say the apartment is visible the suggestion is clearly that it’s sufficiently visible for there to be adequate supervision from a distance.

But is this suggestion reasonable?

The image below is from the official police photos. Notice the width of the vertical slats in the balcony railing, as well as its relatively low height.

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Clearly from this image taken from apartment 5H, which is one floor above the McCanns’ apartment and to the west, a small child moving on the patio wouldn’t be visible from their position lower down.

The McCanns’ apartment was on the ground floor, and vegetation on the perimeter walls block line of sight. Another reason is that the railing itself at 5A is “curtained” off by vegetation.

In Kate’s book she admits vegetation was a factor, but claims the apartment was “largely visible” from the restaurant.

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Okay, but which part of the apartment was visible?

If one wishes to “see” onto the balcony of apartment 5A through direct line-of-sight, one has to achieve substantial elevation. As soon as one does one notices other idiosyncrasies of the ground floor apartments. They’re the only ones with vegetation growing along the railings. They’re also the only apartments with small garden spaces below, a concession perhaps intended to make up for the lack of a sea view.


Zooming in…


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Next I wanted to get a view of the garden alcove beneath the balcony at 5A. If images of the balcony were tough to find, the garden area was well-nigh impossible. And cursory research suggested it was unnecessary; the cadaver dogs had alerted in the flower bed on the other side of the apartment, hadn’t they?

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Actually no, the above article is a misrepresentation. According to the PJ Files:

…on 31 July 2007 a search had been performed inside the apartment using English police dogs, one specialised in the detection of traces of human blood and the other in the detection of human cadaver scent.

They informed further that in that search the animal specialised in detection of human blood indicated the possible presence thereof on one of the floor tiles in the living room and that the dog specialised in detection of human cadaver odour had detected the presence thereof in the couple’s bedroom and in the back garden of the apartment.

[They proceeded] with the recovery of the floor tiles indicated by the dog specialised in the detection of human blood, with the recovery of hair in the corridor [pathway] that exists in the area of the back garden next to the window of the couple’s bedroom, with the recovery of several pieces of the branches of the climbing plant in the garden (for later check of possible blood traces on them) and with the recovery of possible fibres on the garden wall next to the climbing plant…

In the end the police reports provided the first, best images of this obscure garden area I was able to find. Ironically the images are provided under the following headline:


And so, here they are:

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The sharpness and sheerness of that white paving strip on the ground can be appreciated better from this unusual view of the garden. Notice even from directly in front, and somewhat elevated, the balcony railing on the left side is still obscured by vegetation.


The above view provided in reverse, looking from the balcony above 5A in the direction of the Tapas Restaurant.


I mentioned at the outset that an irregular surface was more likely to cause a life-threatening injury from a fall [specifically one leading to a lot of arterial blood spurting].

Here it is:

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But this is another possibility:


Cadaver alerts, however, were not on or below this staircase.

What’s interesting about the image above and those in the police file is how the vegetation has sprung up over the balcony by July 31st [three months after the incident]. Clearly the vegetation and balcony didn’t look like this on May 3rd. It looked like this:

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But the most important image is this one.

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The Balcony Narrative opens up a bunch of questions, scenarios and possibilities, doesn’t it? While researching DOUBT, it occurred to me we have the whole thing the wrong way round.

We are trying to see from the outside, and trying to examine line-of-sight from various angles. We’re looking at the apartment from the perspective of the McCanns, aren’t we? Obviously this line of questioning seeks to implicate or undermine the McCanns, and seeks to call into question whether or not they could or couldn’t see their apartment from the restaurant.


But this misses the point.

In a scenario where Madeleine may have fallen over the balcony railing onto the garden and paving section below, irrespective of whose fault it was or what caused it, we have to ask what she was doing there [if that’s where she fell] in the first place.

Put simply: where was she? If she was “there”, why was she there?

Detective Amaral provides some handy insight into this question by way of his explanation of a fall inside the apartment.

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Amaral suggests Madeleine heard her father in the street, mounted the sofa and attempted to climb onto the wall and perhaps open the window, and that’s when she fell.

That’s a good theory, but – in my view – he’s on the wrong track. I won’t go into the reasons why his theory is unworkable other than to point out a fall at 21:00 would not provide sufficient opportunity for the formation of cadaver odor. There are other issues as well, but let’s leave those for the time being.

Yet if we take Amaral’s psychology of Madeleine hearing and then trying to see her father [or anyone for that matter] and we move this psychology to the balcony, we suddenly have a scenario. Instead of climbing onto a couch she climbs onto a railing. Instead of trying to reach a window [to see something] Madeleine’s trying to see over the railing, and climbs onto it to achieve that.

Even from this position clambering onto the railing it’s frustrating for the little girl, maddening in fact, trying to see towards the Tapas Bar and tennis court area which is – after all – right there. It’s so close!

To fully intuit this scenario we must transpose our frustration trying to see into and onto the balcony from the outside, with Madeleine standing on the balcony possibly trying to see out, and becoming increasingly agitated and persistent in her attempt.

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In this scenario it’s not night time, and her parents aren’t necessarily dining at the Tapas Restaurant. One of her parents or someone she wishes to see [perhaps even another child] is in the play area below or at the tennis courts and Madeleine simply wants to see.

For whatever reason, Madeleine clambers onto the railing or through, or over it, just as she may have done in the jungle gym area beside the pool.fplay

But the messy Bougainvillea interferes with her attempt, perhaps causing her to misjudge her effort. Perhaps once she’s in a critical position, stretching to see over a part of it the creeper she injures herself on a barb causing her to let go and loose her balance.

In the earliest footage of that fateful holiday, we see Madeleine eagerly clambering up the stairs into the aircraft and falling. So the little girl isn’t too timid to find her way onto and over things, even something as exotic as stairs leading onto a noisy airplane.


In some photos of the balcony taken from the side, the railing is no longer there.


This may be because it was defective, or rusted and needed to be replaced, or because it was removed [after the fact] in order to be forensically tested.

One way to explain why a £12 million investigation into Madeleine McCann was never successful is because the critical balcony aspect has been left out either through negligence or investigators not seeing the wood for the trees, so to speak.

The garden area and the balcony doesn’t appear in Kate McCann’s version of the crime scene, it’s incorrectly reported in the media [if it’s reported at all] and the even the diagram used by the Portuguese police doesn’t consider it part of the crime scene. Amaral himself also seems to exclude this area because he is focused on the possible arterial blood evidence behind and beside the blue sofa.

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The Strange Configuration of Beds and Cots in Madeleine McCann’s Bedroom

The Sun has recently provided some brand new infographics to rejig apartment 5A. It’s brilliantly misleading. The door opens the wrong way. The wardrobe on the left is missing, the drawers on the right are gone and suddenly the small two-bedroom room has exploded into a luxurious suite twice its size.

Also completely missing from The Sun’s misrepresentation are the blankets on the respective beds and on the cots. The yellow fabric draped on one of the cots is right but it’s supposed to be on the cot closest to the door.

This is how the bedroom is supposed to look.

It’s easy to miss from this angle, because the door [opening to the right] is sort of in the way. The wall closet on the right.

As can be seen from the above image, there’s a reasonable amount of space for two occupants in this fairly small children’s room. The windows appear to slide open along a track rather than open outward as represented in the graphic.

In fact this is what the actual sleeping arrangements looked like: it seems as many as four slept in a room that was usually meant for two.

In the above image, which is an official police photo of the crime scene, we see how the door opens to the right and is partially blocked from opening completely by the cot. That’s how cramped the interior is – the door can hardly open. One can’t see the wall cupboards on the right because the door blocks the view.

The red oval circle distracts from the bed at the far end, which appears far more “disheveled” and slept in than Madeleine’s bed.

Note the bed by the window has been pushed away from its headboard, and is actually pressed against the window wall, trapping the lower section of curtain. The curtain is still open.

Poor detective Goncalo Amaral was apparently not even allowed to refer to these original images in his book, so he elected to have the images illustrated.

The illustration above isn’t a 100% accurate representation of the photo above it. The sketch incorrectly shows the bedroom door behind a wide section of protruding cupboard.

The illustration does emphasise just how cramped the little bedroom was. It also gets the idiosyncratic yellow cloth hanging over the nearest cot right compared to The Sun’s disaster.

In the same sketch the bedsheets on the opposite size of the room are shown to be disturbed and in disarray as well.

In the image above we can see more clearly just how unkempt the second bed is. Notice also a pillow almost in the corner against the wall. If an abductor got onto the bed to climb out the window, we’d expect more disturbance on the right of the bed. Instead, it’s exactly this area where there is no disturbance.

One must also ask, if Madeleine’s bed was right by the door, and since it was the easiest way to exit the room while holding her, why would the abductor not simply exit through the same easy access? Why make it harder for himself? Why fjord through the cots, trying not to bump them and set off baby alarms, why clamber onto the bed, why open the noisy shutter and window [without waking the kids or leaving any prints] and why then escape into the view of the parking lot where a car arriving or leaving could easily catch the abductor in the middle of a very suspicious act?

Amaral reckons the cots were never in the room to begin, but were moved there during the abduction spiel.

We may say Amaral is being pigheaded about spaces, beds and cots, and is simply spoiling for a fight with the McCanns on this point. Who cares where the beds are, what does it have to do with the price of eggs? Well, potentially everything. Amaral believes this area is so crucial he’s also gone to the trouble to have the main bedroom illustrated using the police photos.

Once again the bed at the far end of the image looks more slept in than the bed closest to the bedroom door. Note there is no bedside table or lamp for the bed on the right, and notice too the men’s shoes that are on the floor between the two beds. What appears to be a camera bag and a pillow are laid on the almost undisturbed blue blanket on the near side.

If Amaral’s right and there was only one occupant in this room, who was it?

It’s easier to appreciate the distance between the right-hand-side bed and the main bedroom closet from the two perspectives above. Amaral’s right, there is space in that area for one or two cots.

If the cots were moved after Madeleine’s disappearance from the parent’s bedroom to Madeleine’s bedroom, what does that mean, if anything? Well, for one thing, if Madeleine was “abandoned” in apartment 5A during the course of the family’s first week on holiday, if the three-year-old was the only occupant who slept alone, this would raise eyebrows if not necessarily suspicions.

One reason why the cots may not have been in Madeleine’s room, and why she may have been given her own space is perhaps because Madeleine was a light sleeper, or had trouble sleeping.

All of this is speculation though, isn’t it?

But it’s not just Amaral who says the cots migrated between the various bedrooms. Kate McCann says so too:

“Back bedroom” is a strangely vague term. Which one is the back bedroom? It refers to the main bedroom where Gerry and Kate slept, but why not simply say so?

Below if the official Política Judiciária diagram of the crime scene. It’s mostly accurate with the exception of the parents’ bedroom, where the beds are not represented as out of alignment with their respective headboards. The bed [#5] in Madeleine’s room is also not shown out of alignment with its headboard, its mattress mooshing the curtain against the wall.

In Kate’s diagram of the apartment, the cramped confines of the kid’s room is made fairly explicit, as is the direction in which the bedroom door opens and closes. Left out of the diagram is the small chest of drawers between the two single beds, setup against the wall. Note the position of the wicker chair in the corner of the children’s bedroom differs from the police diagram and the photos, where the chair is pulled away from the wall. [Scroll to the end for images of the chair in the corner].

Kate is very explicit that the cots they requested were placed by Ocean Club staff in the main bedroom, and that they elected to put the three children in the front room [Madeleine’s room] of their own accord.

She mentions they’d “only be using their room to sleep in” which suggests Kate was aware that the room was so jammed up there wasn’t space for anything else [getting dressed, changing nappies, playing games or reading bedtime stories].

The other half of Kate’s graphic is a little less forthcoming – in my view – than the lower half. Firstly the garden area below the balcony is left out, as are both balcony railings. Then, the bedside table in the main bedroom is missing.

The blue couch where the cadaver odor alerts occurred in the lounge is also missing. The representation of the beds in the main bedroom also doesn’t indicate they were moved away from the wardrobe to create space.

In Madeleine’s room Kate says the beds were pushed apart to make space for the cots, but from other images it appears the beds are set apart on opposite sides of the room. It’s almost as though Kate confused herself here, or else she’s conflating the moving of beds in a way that might be confusing to others.

In any event, we already have a premise here in this representation for leaving the children elsewhere in the apartment so the adults could enjoy their own space, or as Kate puts it “take this one for ourselves”.

It suffices to say in this short description, Kate confirms that the sleep arrangements as set out by the Ocean Club staff were “reorganized” by the McCanns. Kate’s version of events was that immediately when they arrived, they efficiently set out to reorder the furniture in a way that suited them better. But is this really the way it happened? Was the reconfiguration really premeditated, if that is the word?

Another possibility is that the family were having trouble sleeping, like so many young families are prone to, and that this eventuality caused a reorganizing of sleeping arrangements.

If the latter is in fact what happened, what more than that?



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