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

Tag: European Court

Have the McCanns been playing us for fools for the past 12 Years?

Playing us for fools? For twelve years? I know, I know, it’s a ridiculous [say that with a Scottish accent, it sounds stronger] and ludicrous thing to say.

So how about putting the question otherwise.

Have the McCanns been laughing at us for twelve years?

Have they laughed, smiled, chuckled or sneered during interviews over the past many years?

Below is another edit from the same interview, a follow-up answer to the “did you kill your daughter?” question.

Notice how the media have tried to cut this clip below [viewed almost 900 000 times to date] right where both Kate and Gerry are smiling, and Gerry reaches up to scratch his nose. Instead the edit flips back to the interviewer, who is herself beaming after asking whether the parents killed their own child.

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Sometimes it’s easier to appreciate and catch the micro-expressions where the interview is frozen into separate screengrabs. Take note of the deadly series import of the question that’s being asked, and the serious potential implications of the question, versus the lighthearted, dismissive expressions and arguably an almost sneering contempt in the response.

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Notice how, at about 3:30 in the video below, Gerry compares losing Madeleine and getting over her to “getting over student debt” and “getting back into the black.”

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McCanns defend using public fund to pay mortgage – Reuters

Madeleine fund paid for mortgage – CNN

McCanns used fund to pay mortgage – BBC

McCanns used £1m fund to pay mortgage – Telegraph

McCanns used Madeleine fund to pay mortgage – The Guardian

£100,000 donated to Madeleine McCann campaign ‘stolen to fund lavish lifestyle’, whisteblowers claim – Metro

Madeleine McCann donations dramatically fell in just one year – The Mirror

Donations to the Find Madeleine McCann fund fell from almost £2 million to £650,000 in just one year, it was revealed yesterday. Only cash received in libel payouts to friends of Gerry and Kate McCann – dubbed the Tapas Seven – enabled the search for their daughter to go on, latest accounts show.

Around £260 an hour flooded into the Fund as a wave of public sympathy swept the UK after Maddie’s abduction in Praia da Luz in the Algarve in May, 2007. It had £1.4million in bank donations alone in the first ten months of the search.

But contributions fell away after the McCanns became one-time suspects. And the Fund’s income dropped to £629,181 in the year up to 31 March 2009 – while spending rose from £815,113 to more than £1 million. Outgoings covered investigators, publicity and the pair’s legal fight against Portuguese policeman Goncalo Amaral.

Below is a brief summary of how much the Find Madeleine Fund made in less than the first year [ending March 2008]. Just 13% of the total raised was spent on doing what the fund claimed to be raising money for – search and detective fees. By contrast, PR and legal expenses [bear in mind the McCanns were never tried in a criminal court] more than eclipsed the money spent on search and investigation, and after that over a million pounds in “profit” [income] remained.

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Almost ten years later the McCanns almost depleted the fund completely as they used it to pay for their legal battle against their main accuser, Goncalo Amaral, a battle they’ve ultimately lost [to date].

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Madeleine McCann’s parents make final appeal to European court in battle to silence Portuguese ex-police chief’s ‘lies’ – Daily Mail

Mixed messages as McCanns bid to take three-time court defeat to new appeal – Portugal Resident

McCanns could pay out $1m if they lose case against detective who said they were responsible for Madeleine’s disappearance [September 2018] – meaww

The fund currently has £728,508 in it which was largely contributed by the public. If the McCanns lose the case, they’ll be forced to use money out of it to pay compensation…Furthermore, the Kate and Gerry have reportedly used money from the fund to cover the costs of hearings on past occasions as well. Retired Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville, who investigated the case last year, called the most recent developments “tragic”. “It is tragic that funds to try to find her could be lost because of this legal action,” he said. “There is every reason to believe she may be alive.”

This is how an elite Defense Lawyer could take on the Watts case, and win…

The case against Amanda Knox is a useful reference case for the Chris Watts case, particularly in the area of the interrogation. Watts’ interrogation was long and exhausting. It involved three hours on Tuesday night [August 13] followed by seven hours the next day [August 14]. It could also be argued that he was informally interrogated for four additional hours, between 14:07 until around 18:00 when the cops were at his home.

If one adds the various phone calls, including several very early in the morning, the numbers on the clock really start adding up.

There are more than just a few glaring similarities between the Chris Watts case and the Amanda Knox case. For starters:

  • Both confessed [and both confessions were bogus but derived to some extent from the true facts of the crime and crime scene
  • Both implicated an innocent third party
  • Both spoke at length during their interrogations, believing [or presenting] themselves to be “helping” investigators.
  • Both went to elaborate lengths to obstruct justice [Watts by disposing of the bodies and removing evidence. Knox false accusation against Patrick Lumumba – to name one example – meant he was jailed for two weeks before he was finally cleared].
  • Both were at the scene of the crime the next day, spotted by the media and behaving not a little inappropriately, but very inappropriately. This included not just physical behavior and demeanor but many statements made to various witnesses.
  • Amanda Knox claimed “I wasn’t there” because very little evidence was found of her in Meredith Kercher’s bedroom. Although never tested in court, Watts also seemed to claim he wasn’t there [he was at work, or barbecuing] when his family disappeared or were murdered, even though they lived in the same house.
  • Both Knox and Watts suggest some unknown intruder came into the home, committed murder, took virtually nothing and left no traces of themselves.

The list goes on…

Amanda Knox Says ‘Coercive’ Police Interrogation Led Her to Change Her Story – Time

Chris Watts mother says he didn’t kill daughters Bella and Celeste; claims he was coerced into taking a plea deal – CrimeOnline

Amanda Knox tells court police hit her during interrogation – Guardian

Italy Wrongly Deprived Amanda Knox of Legal Counsel, Court Rules – New York Times

How Foxy Knoxy changed her tune about the night Meredith was murdered – Daily Mail

Amanda Knox’s Confession

The Illegal Interrogation of Amanda Knox

To understand how easily a top defense lawyer could have mounted a successful defense in the Watts case, we need only take a casual look at the Amanda Knox case, and how she was able to beat almost all the charges against her over the course of a multi-year court battle against the Italian courts. [Knox was convicted of slandering Patrick Lumumba, and later Knox and her parents were accused of slandering the police but not convicted].

A key part of Knox’s defense was to undermine, invalidate and challenge the police interrogation against her. So despite living in the house opposite the room where Meredith Kercher was stabbed to death, the real criminals – the real suspects – weren’t her and her boyfriend. It was the dodgy, abusive cops. That’s who people should have looked at. The real crime wasn’t someone stabbing Kercher in the throat [burying the blade so far into her throat it stopped at the hilt]. The real violence were the two SLAPS Knox received while the cops were talking to her.

And the police are to blame for the fact that the suspects didn’t call their lawyers. Raffaele Sollecito, Knox’s boyfriend at the time, was offered legal aid by a family member and rejected it. Knox’s aunt also repeatedly advised her to contact the embassy/consulate. It seems it’s okay if family make these advisements and the suspects reject them, but it’s not okay if the cops don’t [or allegedly don’t].

Knox’s father appeared to hire a PR firm at the same time lawyers were hired to clean up the mess. How the narrative is configured: The police should have told the suspects that them being questioned in the police station about a murder in their home meant they were potentially at legal peril [otherwise they would have no way of knowing].

We know in the Watts case that he was repeatedly told he could leave the interrogation at any time, and he also received advice from friends and family [Nick Thayer and his father Ronnie Watts respectively] to get a lawyer. Despite his dumb refusal to get legal advice, Watts could have a lawyer plead the case that like Amanda Knox [and Brendan Dassey], Watts was tricked, coerced, tortured, manipulated and confessed under duress.

While there is some evidence to support this defense, what’s all clear is Watts did commit murder in his own home, and did tamper with evidence, and did move the bodies. Nevertheless, his best defense isn’t to defend the merits of his case, but to attack the police interrogation and investigation.

Theoretically he could also claim that a minor, Nicolas Atkinson, contaminated and compromised the crime scene [framed him, set him up etc] and that the officer on the scene [Coonrod] was negligent or reckless in “allowing” this to happen.

In the Casey Anthony and OJ Simpson cases, there is muddiness around the moment of arrest, and whether the suspects knew they were being arrested, whether they were arrested, and whether the right procedures were followed. As soon as a suspect is arrested, ironically, they win a series of inalienable rights, while at the same time, law enforcement must follow strict protocols. Top defense lawyers are experts in finding loopholes in where or whether these protocols weren’t followed to the letter.

When a murder is committed, and a suspect emerges, the cops have a right to question that person [whether they are a witness, a person of interest or an “official” suspect]. It’s in society’s interest that law enforcement exercise this right to question or interrogate, otherwise everyone would get away with murder. Also, the sooner they can question the better.

We often see when a suspect is guilty, their main tool is not only to deceive, but also to delay. The more time that passes [especially where bodies are missing], the more it plays into their favor.

As mentioned, the process of arresting and interrogating is tricky though. While the cops have the rights to ask questions, the person they wish to question also has rights, including the right to remain silent.

It all becomes muddy when the suspect gives up the right to remain silent and the cops may pretend or manipulate the situation, basically playing along that they know less than they really do, or don’t really believe the person in their custody is guilty [when they do, or have strong reason to].

If both sides are trying to manipulate the other side, even if the suspect is lying, the legal case tends to favor the defense side. It’s seen as unseemly that law enforcement would use deception or underhandedness to catch their killer, and to some extent this is justified.

The flip side though, is this:

A murderer is a liar. If the cops were 100% upfront about everything, there would be little point in having an interrogation. Just give the suspect a clipboard to tick off a few questions and let them go. But in the grey area of true crime, a suspect has to be able to explain and reason their behavior to the cops, and this can become a game of psychological warfare. Who decides when that line is crossed, or where it is?

In the Knox case, a big part of her accusation that she was misled lay in her claim that she couldn’t speak Italian, and thus was in the dark about what was really happening to her. While we can clearly hear her speaking fluent Italian in the video clips below [one months after her arrest], and while it’s clear her boyfriend at the time was Italian [and he could hardly speak English], the onus does fall on the cops [even though they were Italian], to have made provision for an interpreter. So while the actual argument is probably not sound [or true], the legal argument is another matter.

When Watts took the polygraph test, he was given a demonstration where he was told to lie, and shown the results. This test was meant to provide unambiguous proof that he understood the English language, understood the difference between right and wrong [telling the truth and lying], and took the test anyway.

Another aspect that made it difficult for Knox to be prosecuted was the huge amount of negative PR coming from America [and later from Britain] directed at the Italian police and justice system.

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The Knox PR camp successfully turned a criminal case into a political one. This meant Italy [the country] had more to gain by not convicting Knox than by convicting her.


It also became a lot more difficult to execute on the confessions on Knox when the interrogation and the police were being undermined in the media.

Now, at the zenith of the #MeToo movement, we see a European court – more than ten years after the criminal trial – upholding Knox’s “human rights”.

In theory, had Watts taken his case to trial, a top defense lawyer could have surfed this wave of his clients rights being violated at every turn. In addition to that, if he admitted to being bisexual, he could also question the motives of the imputed murderer of the children, and the rush to judgement by the cops to be a form of conscious or subconscious discrimination.

In the OJ Simpson case the acquittal wasn’t for lack of evidence, but because the jury sympathized and identified with the race of the defendant, and further, wanted revenge against an allegedly racist detective [Mark Fuhrman].

In true crime, and criminal law, we want the criminals to be evil and absolutely guilty, and the cops chasing them to be completely good, and completely innocent in their police work and interrogations.

Defense lawyers know the cops are only human, and as far as the law is concerned, that can trump the guilt of the defendant. If there is no reasonable doubt by way of the defendant, the methods used by the cops can be used to manufacture it. There’s no doubt that Watts was manipulated and misled during his interrogation. There’s also no doubt that he was actively manipulating and actively misleading about three murders and a recent burial of all three bodies. Sometimes the manipulation of the cops can turn a case, and a verdict, as we see in the Knox case.

Sometimes a degree of play-acting by law enforcement seems necessary and even justified. As they say, it takes a thief to catch a thief. In the Watts case we see how it takes the same foxy thinking to outwit and catch a liar and a murder, especially as they are doing everything they can to avoid telling the truth, being caught or held to account for their crimes. Ultimately, just as in the Knox confession, even when Watts did confess, the confession was a lie.

During their respective interrogations, the cops finally offered both Watts and Knox a way out, an exit, and both took it and ran with it. Both took the bait of blaming and implicating someone else.

In the Watts case, what this revealed was that his “disappeared” family were dead, all of them murdered, and he knew it. He’d known it all along. The fact that he could nonchalantly play act with the cops for hours on end, with a straight face, knowing they were dead is what horrifies us.

But at the moment he acknowledged the lie the cops offered him, that Shan’ann had killed his daughters, he admitted a) that he knew they were dead and b) that he was there when they died. Then, automatically he became the prime suspect not in a missing person’s case but in a homicide investigation.

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In the Amanda Knox case, the moment she acknowledged hearing Lumumba murdering Meredith, she also admitted being at the scene during her murder. But the outcome of that bogus confession has since favored her, hasn’t it? Perhaps in due course Watts will appeal along this very same tenuous line of defense. Do you think he’ll win or that he should?