McCann detectives speak out

 

Someone living in or around Praia da Luz — the Algarve resort where Madeleine McCann vanished — knows what happened to her, the private detectives employed by her parents to find the little girl claim.

Speaking publicly about the inquiry for the first time in a Channel 4 documentary to be aired next week, the two former British police detectives say the “answer still lies” in that small section of the Portuguese coast.

They disclose that one statement, contained in files released by police last summer, apparently corroborates the sighting by a friend of Madeleine’s parents of a man carrying a small girl in the area at the time she went missing.

The search team also found statements from tourists, who all noticed a suspicious-looking man hanging around near the McCanns’ apartment on that fateful evening.

And statements from the files suggest the family may have been watched in the days before Madeleine disappeared.

The documentary, Cutting Edge: Madeleine Was Here, follows detectives Dave Edgar and Arthur Cowley as they try to piece together what eye-witnesses say happened two years ago.

Today is the second anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance.

Mr Edgar, a retired detective inspector with more than 30 years’ experience in Cheshire and the RUC, is leading the probe.

He said: “There’s someone local, lives locally, who has the answer to this, and not, you know, much wider than 10, 15km away from Praia da Luz.

“So you don’t start an investigation in Morocco or Spain or France or even Lisbon. This offence happened in Praia de Luz. It’s a very self-contained resort, and that’s where we’ve started and that’s where I think the answer is.”

Mr Cowley, who spent three decades as a detective sergeant in police forces in the north west of England, said: “The answer still lies in Praia de Luz and it’s important that we focus on Praia da Luz and the surrounding area.”

Portuguese police released some 30,000 files of information about their investigation when the case was shelved last summer.

Now translated into English, at a cost of €100,000, the files are yielding new leads for the private detectives, they tell the documentary makers.

One key statement appears to corroborate the sighting by the McCanns’ friend Jane Tanner, who told police she saw a man carrying a small girl near the Leicestershire couple’s holiday apartment on May 3 2007 at around 9.10pm.

A short time later, on the same night, a family also saw a man carrying a small blonde child nearby. Their and Ms Tanner’s descriptions of the man are similar.

The investigators hope the documentary and a reconstruction filmed with Gerry McCann may jog the memories of people who were in Praia da Luz at the time of the apparent abduction.

Mr Edgar said: “We’re interested in getting back and getting answers to where it happened and that’s why we’re doing a reconstruction, because there’s lots of unanswered questions.

“The reconstruction is based on statements taken by the Portuguese police. We’re not speculating on anything or theories, it’s evidence that we’ve got from the file.”

He added: “In my experience random just doesn’t happen, someone just doesn’t go in, a passer-by, and pick up a child and take it, these things are planned.

“So someone will have been in the vicinity of apartment 5a, the Ocean Club, and they may even have been watching the apartment for a week or more.”

In the documentary, Mr McCann returns for the first time to apartment 5a of the Ocean Club complex, where he last saw his daughter.

He said: “We are a family and we’re a happy family but we’re not a complete family.

“There’s still a scar, a deep, deep scar that’s kind of knitted at the minute, but you still think it might break or come loose, the stitches of it.”

The film shows the return to the Algarve of Ms Tanner and Matthew Oldfield, two friends from the group known as the “Tapas 7” who were on holiday with the McCanns at the time.

The documentary also films the McCanns at home in Rothley, Leicestershire, as the second anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance approaches.

Mrs McCann said: “I think we’re far from normality. We need to get out there that she’s alive, she’s out there, she’s findable.

“She might look different, she could be speaking a different language, she might have her hair different, she might have different interests but, you know, she’s still our daughter.”

Cutting Edge: Madeleine Was Here, will be shown on Channel 4 on May 7th at 9pm.

PA