Key to Madeleine mystery 'in Algarve'
SOMEONE living in or around Praia da Luz – the Algarve resort where Madeleine McCann vanished – knows what happened to her, claim the private detectives employed by her parents to find the little girl.
Speaking publicly about the inquiry for the first time in a Channel 4 documentary to be aired this week, the two former UK police detectives say the answer still lies in that small section of the Portuguese coast.
They say one statement, contained in police files released 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. They also found statements from tourists who noticed a suspicious-looking man hanging around near the McCanns' apartment the evening she disappeared, as well as statements suggesting the family may have been watched in the days before.
The documentary, Cutting Edge: Madeleine Was Here, follows detectives Dave Edgar and Arthur Cowley as they try to piece together the reports of eyewitnesses. Today is the second anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance.
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 much wider than 10km, 15km away from Praia da Luz. It's a very self-contained resort, and that's where we've started and that's where I think the answer is."
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. 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 couple's holiday apartment on May 3, 2007, at around 9.10pm. On the same night, a family also saw a man carrying a blonde child nearby. Their and 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.
"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," Edgar said. "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, Gerry McCann returns for the first time to the apartment where he last saw his daughter. "We're a happy family but we're not a complete family," he said. "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 also 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.
• Cutting Edge: Madeleine Was Here, will be shown on Channel 4 on Thursday at 9pm.
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