Many years ago, more years ago than what is acceptable in solving the solvable case surrounding the unlawful killing of Madeleine McCann, I opined.
I opined that out of the many theories proffered by many sharp thinkers, and some not so sharp, on the many forums that abounded at the time, that there was a very good chance, that unwittingly and unknowingly, someone had already offered a theory that essentially would answer, pretty well, the Madeleine conundrum. The conundrum of who, what, but doubtfully the why, the why of this case remaining a conundrum in its own right until such a time as the fat lady sings.
That was then, but this is now. Now sees me doubting such former opinions. So much so in fact, that they are dismissed. To be replaced by what, you might ask? By something I like, the answer.
By something I like so much, it actually gives me the shivers. And the cause of said shivers; the latest offering of Dr Martin Roberts.
Before reading Dr Roberts' narrative, might I ask you to watch this short video clip, it being critical to the whole post? It is a well known clip, it depicts Kate McCann in what I once described as: what has to be the most unconvincing appeal by any mother of a missing child in the annals of history. Link
Wooden yes, but wooden for a reason, and it is here the plot thickens. But far be it for me to write a spoiler, much better you read Dr Roberts' essay.
But I will ask you to pay attention, not only to Kate McCann's message, that being the reason we are here, but to the actions of Gerry McCann.
Watch Gerry McCann throughout, including the sneaky look that passes from him to her, (1min 07secs) but I suggest you watch his hand in the first few seconds, then whizz it back and watch his face over the same period, You can’t watch hand and face simultaneously, it’s too quick.
Bring Out Your DeadBy Dr Martin Roberts
24 May 2015
During those dark, dreadful Middle-Ages, and afterwards, the wistful trundling of a cart, accompanied by melancholic appeals from its driver, signalled to the surviving residents of a rapidly dwindling metropolis that someone was at hand to relieve them of whatever corpse might now be menacing the health of their entire household. Nowadays we are more accustomed to bells announcing the arrival of ice cream, although the need for waste disposal in the 21st century has certainly not abated, as was made manifest in Portugal eight years ago.
Blogger, Tania Cadogan has once again drawn attention to the question of putrefaction, and the behaviour of dogs when presented with a pungent odour of any kind. Link
As any dog owner/handler will confirm, whether or not a canine is specifically trained to associate one or other smell with a particular innate behaviour, be it a wagging tail, a bark, or ‘pointing’ with its nose, it will smell (and inevitably notice) any odour of potential interest to it. (Anyone will hear a busker in the street, even if only a few recognise the tune). The dog’s decision either to ignore or investigate then becomes a function of the odour’s significance (to the dog) and/or its prior training in avoidance, as is the case with animals tasked with ‘tracking’ or ‘search and rescue’, among other specialisms, where common-or-garden aromas, including food waste, are ‘screened out’ at the training stage.
What Tania brings to the fore are the Police reports of early searches conducted in Praia da Luz, using dogs (variously described as ‘tracker’ or ‘search and rescue’ animals), in the aftermath of the McCanns’ announcement of their daughter Madeleine’s abduction; specifically the dogs’ deployment at the Ocean Club complex, where apartment 5J was noted to have been peculiarly provocative as far as these dogs were concerned, each of them separately introduced to its front door: two on the night of 7 May (c 23.00), four (two of either ‘discipline’) late in the evening of the 10th (c. 20.10).
The observations of GNR officers present at the first of these searches led directly to the second, during the course of which the conspicuous interest of the dogs in said apartment was confirmed. Whereas on the first occasion the apartment was merely ‘checked’ for any indication (by the dogs) of a missing (presumed alive) child, it was duly noted on the second visit, that whatever odour was attracting the animals it appeared to emanate from the vicinity of the fridge, the door of which was open. Inside was some rotting meat and vegetables. (Sound familiar?)
The invitation to move toward a conclusion here is nigh-on irresistible, and one that Tania herself understandably accepted. We may take a further step forward however.
It is apparent from the reports filed in respect of these two ‘sweeps’ of the Ocean Club, that the second was a more determined attempt to locate Madeleine McCann utilising the dogs, the first being somewhat speculative, since the animals were engaged outside of their normal operational parameters. As regards the first ‘check’, it is unclear whether the dogs or their GNR handlers proceeded beyond the front door even. No specific mention is made in the report, from that inspection, of the fridge, its door or its contents. What was recorded was the similarity of the first dogs’ reactions when passing the front doors of apartments 5A and 5J, the two animals having earlier been ‘primed’, as it were, by first sniffing Madeleine’s clothes.
What this suggests is that these two dogs at least, and quite possibly all of them eventually, reacted to the same odour, which was not that of rotting meat, but something else, since we know for certain that no rotting meat or vegetables were left on the premises at apartment 5A, where Rex and Zarus had each become somewhat agitated, afterwards exhibiting the same agitation once outside apartment 5J.
Whilst the exact status of the 5J fridge on the night of 7 May is unconfirmed, had it been closed at that time the first two dogs (Rex and Zarus) could not have smelt its contents, but will have been drawn to something else; so too the hounds that came after them.
Although an alternative continuity might be proposed, given the dogs were first introduced to certain of Madeleine McCann’s clothes, the supposition that they later, on this basis, indicated the transient presence in both apartments (5A and 5J) of Madeleine McCann , does not stand up to scrutiny. What would she have been doing in 5J in the first place, having been ‘abducted’ from downstairs, and why was she not still there on the 10th? Unless the ‘abductor’ had a professional connection to the Ocean Club, they could not have gained entry to one of its unoccupied (locked) apartments, much less incarcerate a small child in complete and utter silence for any length of time. Overnight perhaps. But the dogs, as we have seen, were drawn toward the fridge, not the bedroom.
An even more naïve interpretation might be that the dogs simply over-reacted to each of two different odours - Madeleine’s (emanating from 5A, naturally) and the meat left abandoned in 5J. However, since the dogs would have been trained to avoid ambient stimuli of no relevance to their ‘target’ scent, such an explanation goes only half-way. Furthermore, among the dogs introduced into apartment 5J were ‘search and rescue’ animals, trained, obviously, in the detection of human scent(s). There is no suggestion that the meat housed in the fridge was human flesh.
It is not unreasonable to infer therefore that these dogs (usually deployed for either ‘tracking’ or ‘search and rescue’ purposes), although not trained to react to the smell of a dead body necessarily, did exactly that at both apartments. As the PJ officers noted with respect to 5J (and as the files record), there must have been “some unusual odour, but which with all certainty did not have anything to do with the odour being searched for, but there must have been something strange inside”.
What may be distilled from all of this is the strong possibility that a corpse had been temporarily accommodated in apartment 5J of the Ocean Club. 5A and 5J shared something in common and it was not the smell of rotting meat. Nor was it the trace of a live child. And since we have available to us the results from a very specific canine examination of 5A subsequently, it is again not unreasonable to infer that the common odour (with 5J) was that of a dead body, not a live one.
And so to the communication between disposal operative and the recently bereaved. In this case it is not a matter of the former extending an invitation to the latter, but the converse.
At 2.00 p.m. on the afternoon of 7 May (the day the first of these dog-assisted searches was to take place), Kate McCann delivered a televised appeal to her daughter’s supposed abductor, with (so we are told by Kate in her book, ‘madeleine’) encouragement from British Embassy press officer Andy Bowes, together with Alex Woolfall, a PR crisis-management specialist from Bell Pottinger (UK). Said appeal was altogether extraordinary, not in terms of its delivery per se, but the manner in which it was worded, as noted fully six years ago (see: Who Were You With Last Night?, McCannfiles 31.7.2009). The written statement was as follows:
"We would like to say a few words to the person who is with our Madeleine, or has been with Madeleine.
“Madeleine is a beautiful, bright, funny and caring little girl. She is so special.
“Please, please do not hurt her. Please don't scare her. Please let us know where to find Madeleine, or put her in a place of safety and tell somebody where.
“We beg you to let Madeleine come home. We need our Madeleine. Sean and Amelie need Madeleine and she needs us.
“Please give our little girl back.
“Por favor, devolva a nossa menina. [Please give our little girl back]"
Read for the cameras by Kate McCann, It was intended to represent the heartfelt plea of a mother whose child had recently been abducted. But set these same words in the context of a parent who already knows their daughter to be dead and they take on an altogether different complexion. Who would ask for the return of dead body in any case?
Instead, Kate McCann is literally telling the person who has been looking after Madeleine to move her (‘put her in a place of safety’) – and on the very day the Police would later bring dogs to bear in searching the Ocean Club apartments!
If this should sound far-fetched, then consider her next instruction: ‘tell somebody where’.
Not, you will notice, ‘tell US where’, given that most desperate parents in anything like this sort of situation would wish to be the first to know. Kate McCann appears strangely nonchalant in contrast, as she suggests ‘the person’ (whom she does not know) first contact ‘someone’ (whom she doesn’t know either). Her use of the phrase ‘put her’ also indicates a change in Madeleine’s status from that of a happy-go-lucky, nearly four-year-old child.
As literal actions, ‘Putting’ and ‘placing’ are things we usually do with inanimate objects. Whilst the English language includes various expressions involving the putting and placing of people, these are usually figurative (e.g., ‘I put him in his place’, ‘He was placed second in the race’, etc.). Even if someone has to be ‘put down’ (having first been picked up) they are not themselves animated at that moment.
Since Kate McCann was reading from a prepared script, there seems little justification for her not using conventional idioms when asking Madeleine’s abductor to treat her with care and respect, i.e. ‘Please leave her’ (‘somewhere safe’, ‘where she will be safe’ or, ‘in a safe place’). ‘Put her in a place of safety’ is a most unnatural turn of phrase to use in the context as publicly understood.
The verbal corruption in fact arises from Kate’s initial temptation to say ‘place her’ (somewhere safe?), which she only narrowly avoids doing. But the word ‘place’, having thrust itself forward in her mind, proves impossible to ignore, and even supercedes the word ‘safe’ in what should have been the phrase ‘safe place’, had that phrase been correctly prepared in Kate’s mind. It wasn’t. Hence we hear: ‘or pla….put her in a place of safety.’
Translated, this is Kate’s (somewhat muddled) message to the operative, that they move Madeleine to a different place (they will already be somewhere) and let their own ‘fixer’, know the new location.
Even the ‘suggestion’ (by Andy Bowes) that part of the message be delivered in Portuguese has potentially more profound an implication than its simply being a straightforward attempt to cover all the bases.
The police and their dogs were admitted into 5J by a female representative of Mark Warner, who had a key. The apartment had been unoccupied for a considerable period of time. (So who left the meat in the fridge, and who opened the fridge door?)
Should it be accepted that a corpse occupied 5J for any period of time, the corollary that Ocean Club management staff enabled it to happen at some point becomes inevitable.
Immediately we have a scenario of third-party involvement in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. As regards the chain of command, that ‘person with Madeleine’, would have been a ‘grunt’, whose identity was unknown to the McCanns – probably a Portuguese ‘grunt’ at that. Making the focal point of her little speech in Portuguese therefore would have been Kate’s best shot at seeing to it that her message reached its ultimate recipient.
The golden key
Apartment 5J of the Ocean Club appears to assume significance beyond its merely being vacant on the occasion of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance. There are grounds for suspecting that it was used temporarily to house the infant Madeleine (although not as an abductee). For that to have happened, someone would have had to gain access, more than likely without the knowledge or consent of the apartment’s owner, who would have been elsewhere at the time. (The apartment was still unoccupied by 10 May)
The hypothesis that, come 7 May, the McCanns were keen on some re-location, lends a degree of support to the view that 5J may indeed have been a transient stop-over for their missing daughter. It has already been suggested elsewhere that such a location existed and that the McCanns had concerns about it – not so much the venue, as its proprietor – from as early as 25 May (See: That Key Bit Of Information, McCannfiles 24.1.2010).
The reports concerning the ‘searches’ conducted using the GNR’s tracker dogs, and afterwards ‘search and rescue’ animals, were not in fact written until 30 November that year, so there would not have been any publicly available ‘hard copy’ for the McCanns or anyone else to refer to. Why therefore might the McCanns, having successfully given the go-ahead for their daughter to be moved, harbour a serious on-going concern with respect to proprietors of empty properties in general, 5J the Ocean Club in particular?
Tania Cadogan concludes her piece on the subject with the statement: “If prints or DNA turned up from the McCanns, Maddie or any of the tapas group, I would be asking a lot of awkward questions.”
Given that the outcome of those searches, in terms of the behavioural pattern of the dogs, was known and clearly understood by those involved in planning and executing the task, is it not highly likely that the PJ subsequently proceeded to ask one or two ‘awkward questions’ themselves concerning apartment 5J? They were diligent enough after all to establish the ownership and movements of a particular vessel moored in Lagos Marina when it did not even go anywhere.
From what even we, the general public, can ascertain of these significant searches, it would seem almost a dereliction of duty had the PJ not identified the owner of the apartment, its last occupants (who may have been there on a holiday booking) and any interim service routines. And that would explain at a stroke why Gerry McCann appears to have been equally keen to do likewise.
Given the title of Dr Roberts' piece, I'm sure you will indulge me in a little satire? After all, what would a blog post be without a little satire*?
*For satire, read contempt. And for contempt, read Metropolitan Police.