'Gerry frantically looked under cars while Kate paced up and down crying: "they've got Maddie"' says child-carer who worked in the Praia da Luz resort where Maddie vanished
BY MATTHEW YOUNG
22:00, 17 APR 2017
A nanny who looked after Madeleine McCann has told how the youngster’s parents were plunged into despair and panic when the horrifying truth she had vanished sank in.
The former child minder said she is still haunted by the image of dad Gerry desperately trying to find their missing daughter while she tried to comfort weeping mum Kate who cried: “They’ve taken her.” There you are. Only one nanny I believe confirmed this. As has been pointed out many times, for someone to know that there was a ‘they’ – foreknowledge was required. ‘Madeleine has gone!’ would have been believable.
Breaking her silence after 10 years, the witness also claimed the resort from which Madeleine vanished was considered so unsafe nannies were handed rape alarms and told to not go out alone.
And she slammed the Portuguese police’s handling of the disappearance, insisting their blundering scuppered any chances of finding who had snatched three-year-old Madeleine.
Kate and Gerry make emotional appeal after their daughter was abducted while they were at dinner (Photo: Getty)
Speaking of that dreadful night in May 2007, the ex-nanny –who looked after the girl several times – said: “A parent came to me and said there was something going on, and said someone’s looking for a child, I didn’t instantly think it was Maddie. Most nannies were alerted by other nannies. Thanks.
"A couple of minutes later I walked into Kate crying, friends comforting her, Gerry looking under cars, and it just blew up. I don’t even think she saw me. I just stood next to her and tried to comfort her.
“She was pacing up and down. The worst possible thing had just happened to her.
Cop who searched for Madeleine McCann says she might be hiding in plain sight 'and not know who she really is'
“I think I said something like, ‘She’ll be found, these things happen all the time.’
“She was crying, but almost in a catatonic state, and Gerry was very distressed. That’s the one thing I really remember from him, looking under the cars. I can’t forget that.
Catatonic and crying are mutually exclusive.
Why Gerry looked under cars. Makes no sense at all. Unless she was hiding there. No-one would drive over a child and decide to leave the car parked over the body?
“We were told to start looking in bins in case her body was in there. It was at that point we realised this was serious.
Along with other staff, the ex-carer, who worked for travel firm Mark Warner at the the Ocean Club resort, sifted by hand in the dark through industrial-sized bins and piping leading into the sea in their hunt for Madeleine. Hmm. first time I heard that one. Never mind. The parents themselves, according to the book KM wrote, spend a whole hour (during which they were also on the phone) rifling through bins and jumping in ditches. Around 7 in the morning, as they'd had a little rest during the night. As you do. Besides it was dark, although they did have a torch when they met the assembled journalists the following evening.
They also walked Praia da Luz’s small, winding streets searching for the missing girl until they were told, against their wills at 5am, that it was time for bed.
But the woman, who we are not naming, said she is still furious with local police , who she claimed took 90 minutes to arrive on the scene.
The police were called at 10.41 – they arrived at 11.00 pm. Documented evidence. Winesses, call records and so on. Police could not get there any earlier coming from Portimao. I’m sure it would be the same if UK police received a call from Withering-in-the-Wold when the nearest police station (as Oxiadere was) would be some 18 kilometers away. Google gives driving time of around 16 minutes. In any case officers Roque and Da Costa arrived at 11.00 P.M. - 90 minutes later there were some 6 officers present who had been arriving between 11.00 p.m and 00.15. By 02.00 dogs were deployed. Two hours later the McCanns went to the Payne's flat for a lie-down. Gerry managed to sleep a bit. All on record.
And she told how people were in and out of the apartment where Madeleine vanished from – contaminating a potential crime scene.
People like the nanny herself? The friends and so on. Besides – see link 1)
The former nanny added: “I know I didn’t step into that apartment but pretty much everybody else did. So, evidence gone, nothing. There was nobody there to say, ‘We need to lock this off now.’ The police didn’t get there for ages, maybe an hour and a half, so we were looking for her. And at the end of the day, no matter how much you’ve been trained with children, we were children, mainly teenagers, we’re not police.
“That’s why police were trying to get everyone’s timelines, because they weren’t there.”
She also told how she was interviewed by officers in the wake of Madeleine’s disappearance and later detectives from the Met’s Operation Grange handed her two pages of statements they had retrieved from their Algarve compratiots.
Her original statement was four to five pages long, but the one the Portuguese had been working from was only two pages long – missing a number of details from her interview. The woman claimed “whole chunks of information were missed out”.
If this is true then the simple solution is that part of her statement is amongst the 20% of documents withheld by the Portuguese investigators. Only 80% of the files was published. Obviously they found it of some interest. Did she see the original copy of the statement or something that was retyped by OG? In that case five pages could go to two.
She added: “I think a lot of things should’ve happened differently. Unfortunately the effects were catastrophic.”
And the carer told how she was astonished Kate and Gerry were ever deemed suspects in their own child’s disappearance. She is still constantly quizzed by people about the case who ask if “the parents did it”.
She said: “I tell them no, there’s no way at all. A, timings and B, where it was, their reactions, the whole thing. Not a chance.” Well done. Skated right over the evidence of two Tapas workers and an Irish family. No problems there then. Not that the above makes sense in any way.
The woman also told how Madeleine was a favourite among the child minders. Her allocated nanny was Catriona Baker, but others also got the chance to look after her. The carer added: “I remember her character and temperament. She was slightly shy, very sweet. Not loud or precocious.
“We obviously give the same care to all the children, but she was a real cutie and a real sweetheart. If you asked her, ‘Can you just pass me that?’ She’d be like, ‘Sure.’
“She was easy for us, and you were happy to sit and help out this pretty little girl who’s really nice.” She could be a screamer. She could throw a tantrum. All remarks from her close family, which said in the wake of the abduction I’ve always found very strange. But the intention here once again is separating Maddie from the rest, by virtue of her loveliness. 'Please look for Madeleine, her mother said, 'she's lovely.'
While the Ocean Club was clearly popular with British holidaymakers like the McCanns, from Rothley, Leics, the former child minder claimed it was considered an unsafe place for those who worked there. So holiday makers were safe and MW workers were easy to tell apart from the tourists? For rapists and suchlike?
After she arrived she was stunned when a fellow nanny passed on a message from hotel staff to never venture off the site alone. We now need the statistics for Praia da Luz for risk assessment. Off the site' gives the impression it was separate from the town. It is not, to go from one MW building to another you go through ‘town’. The supermarket is ‘in town’ but diagonally opposite the MW tennis courts. 100 meters down from 5A.
She added: “I just couldn’t get over how different it was to other Mark Warner resorts.
“We were told, ‘Here’s a rape whistle, don’t go anywhere by yourself, ever.’ There’d been a girl attacked the year or so before in Praia da Luz. It didn’t sound like a family resort to me. Would not surprise me if that ‘attacker’ was another holiday maker. If it is true.
“I just got the feeling the locals didn’t want us there.” It emerged in 2014 that 11 years earlier a 10-year-old British girl had been sexually assaulted “in the heart” of Praia da Luz. That would be all those locals who stayed away from work to look for Maddie? Who selflessly kept on searching all through the night? Who couldn’t believe parents would leave small children alone in the dark?
The victim came forward three years ago after a Scotland Yard appeal revealed a string of potentially linked sex assaults on young UK girls across the Algarve between 2004 and 2006. So eleven years earlier there was an attack on a British girl, is this part of the saga allegedly imparted by the consul to the McCanns that there had been a string on incidents where men had tried to get into bed with British girls? This has not been backed up by any witness statements anywhere.
Mark Warner, which operates in resorts all over the world, quit Praia da Luz in 2015.
But the former nanny, who couldn’t face child minding again after the Algarve horror, said dining while kids were in the apartments was “really normal” in such resorts. And she insisted there was no evidence Kate and Gerry would ever neglect their kids. She said: “I remember thinking, even before I knew them, how they were the picture perfect family.’’ I’m lost now, even before you knew them you knew what a perfect family they were. Glad you remember thinking that – before as it were. Fine. As for dining whilst kids etc. despite you being a nanny, you appear to have forgotten that there was a free evening nanny service and many families used this. So they could dine in peace. It was so ‘not normal’ to leave children alone in the dark in a strange environment that it appears no-one else did this.
“It’s probably very naive, but the best case scenario of a very horrible situation, is that she was procured and taken for a rich person who didn’t have children. Then they would have taken the completely comatose Amelie. Who, together with her twin brother was apparently left alone in an apartment from which their sister had just been abducted. For KM trotted back the full 100 meters or so to the Tapas. Whilst she could easily have shouted from the balcony. It’s all academic anyway. There was no evidence of an abduction, no shutters interfered with or broken.
“But I think the only person who knows exactly what happened is Madeleine. Can I believe it’s 10 years on? Yes and no.
No because 10 years seems like a really long time, she’d be nearly 14.
“And yes, because sometimes, when I talk about it, it feels like I’m right back there again.
“I wonder if she’s alive. Does she even remember? Does she remember her parents?
“I’m probably less harrowed by it now, but that’s just because, although it’s awful, it’s become accepted.
“‘It’s Madeleine, she’s gone missing but it would just be the best day ever if I could be told that she’s been found.” Basically waffle in order to enter words like ‘alive’ present tense ‘does she remember?’ And ‘she’s been found’.
Operation Grange, which was last month given £85,000 of Home Office funding to extend its probe until September, still speaks to witnesses. Slow but steady is the message here. What is needed here of course, is another sighting or a dead paedo’s confession to close the whole thing down. Except in the latter case, the gutter press will carry on with competitions to find the poor child’s grave.
1) This link gives a factual account of the main events.