Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Madeleine McCann police hoping new timeline of events could lead to breakthrough after 'overwhelming response' to Crimewatch appeal

Video still issued by the Metropolitan Police from the BBC Crimewatch programme showing Kate McCann describing the moment she realised Madeleine was not in the room.
Video still issued by the Metropolitan Police from the BBC Crimewatch programme showing Kate McCann describing the moment she realised Madeleine was not in the room.
The two e-fit images issued by the Metropolitan Police, believed by detectives to be of the same man seen in the Portuguese town of Praia da Luz at the time of Madeleine McCann's disappearance
Video still issued by the Metropolitan Police from the BBC Crimewatch programme showing DCI Redwood talking about the events surrounding Madeleine McCann disappearance in Portugal in 2007
Undated e-fit image issued by the Metropolitan Police, as part of the investigations into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in 2007, of a charity collector who called at apartment G5a on the 25 or 26 April, between 1430 and 1500. He is described as Portuguese looking, aged 40-45 years old, with short dark hair, slightly grey at sides. He was carrying, a clip board or pad, receipt book, and an ID card with his photo on it - but in that photo he had a goatee beard.
Undated e-fit image issued by the Metropolitan Police, as part of the investigations into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in 2007, of a man seen by a different witness, again near apartment G5A, on 3 May at approximately 1600hrs. He is described as white, normal build, blondish fair hair, which is described as quite close shaven, aged between 30-35 years old.
Undated image issued by the Metropolitan Police, as part of the investigations into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in 2007, the original sketch (left) that a person made at the time together with a Met Police photo of the British holidaymaker (right) who they have spoken to and is seen here wearing the clothes he believes he may have been wearing that evening.This is the person police believe they have identified as the man who was seen by Jane Tanner carrying a child at about 21.15 near the apartment G5A.
Undated video still issued by the Metropolitan Police from the BBC Crimewatch programme showing a re-enaction of the events surrounding Madeleine McCann disappearance in Portugal in 2007.
Gerry and Kate McCann who are "greatly encouraged" by new information about the disappearance of their daughter, they said in a statement.
Screen grab showing a Crimewatch reconstruction of actors playing Gerry and Kate McCann, closing curtains in their hotel room on the night of the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine McCann which is to be aired on Monday October 14.

Detectives investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann say they have had an “overwhelming response” to the BBC Crimewatch appeal broadcast on Monday which included e-fits of a man believed to be a key suspect.

It comes after a radical shift in what police believe happened on the night she went missing.

Police said they had received over 118 calls after a new appeal that saw e-fits of a white man of medium build, who is thought to have been seen with a child in his arms on the night Madeleine disappeared.

The new images, broadcast on Monday night, were drawn up five years ago by a private detective agency but they were never publicly released as Portuguese police were working on a theory that the three-year-old had been snatched 45 minutes earlier.

The man, believed to be in his 30s, was spotted by a holidaying Irish family at about 10pm just minutes from the apartment at the Algarve resort in Praia de Luz where Kate and Gerry McCann had been staying.

Martin Smith and his family left Portugal the day after the disappearance and only later realised the significance of the man walking towards the ocean with the young girl wearing pyjamas in his arms.

The man’s importance only emerged after Scotland Yard pored through tens of thousands of documents compiled by Portuguese and British police and private detectives hired by the family during the six years that she has been missing.

Police are focusing on the man in the e-fit after ruling out another person of interest – a dark-haired man spotted walking away from the apartment with a child at around 9.15pm on May 3, 2007.

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The two e-fit images issued by the Metropolitan Police, believed by detectives to be of the same man seen in the Portuguese town of Praia da Luz at the time of Madeleine McCann's disappearance
The two e-fit images issued by the Metropolitan Police, believed by detectives to be of the same man seen in the Portuguese town of Praia da Luz at the time of Madeleine McCann's disappearance

That man – who had been a focus of police inquiries for years – has been identified as an innocent British holidaymaker who had been collecting his own daughter from a crèche at the resort. He had been spotted by Jane Tanner, a member of the so-called “Tapas Nine”, friends of the McCann family who had been eating together at a resort in the Portuguese town after putting their children to bed.

“Our focus in terms of understanding what happened on the night of May 3 has now given us a shift of emphasis,” said Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, who is leading the inquiry. “We are almost certain that the man seen by Jane Tanner is not Madeleine’s abductor.

“It takes us through to a position at 10pm when we see another man who is walking towards the ocean, close by to the apartment, with a young child in his arms.”

In another new line of enquiry broadcast on Monday, police said the disappearance had "all the hallmarks of a pre-planned abduction".

The review – part of an £5m operation after the McCanns made a direct appeal to the Prime Minister in 2011 – has led to what police believe is the most detailed picture so far of what happened on the night of the abduction. The police team has scrutinised the key 90-minute period when the McCanns joined their friends for dinner culminating in Kate McCann’s discovery that her daughter was missing at about 10pm.

After the Crimewatch appeal, Det Chief Insp Redwood said the investigation had an “overwhelming response from the public” with a flurry of calls including many from holidaymakers that were on the resort in 2007. He added: “There are still people out there who can help us with key information"

Scotland Yard is also investigating sightings of unknown blonde men around the resort in the days and hours before the three-year-old was snatched. Police said the sightings, including men believed to be speaking German, suggested preparation and planning.

DCI Redwood said there had been a four-fold increase in burglaries in the area in the months before the attack and could not rule out that Madeleine had disturbed someone who had broken into the apartment where she was sleeping. In the 17 days before she was snatched, there was an attempted burglary and burglary in the same block where the family were staying.

Police said on Monday night they were also trying to trace a number of people going door-to-door collecting money in a potentially bogus charity scam.

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