An Irish tourist who
saw someone carrying a child in a blanket on the night Madeleine McCann
disappeared insists that the mystery man was not Robert Murat.
Smith, from Drogheda in Co Louth, was on holiday in Praia Da Luz with his family
when they bumped into the man just before 10pm on May 3 last year.
suspicions were aroused because the man made no response when they asked if
the barefoot child was asleep.
"He just put
his head down and averted his eyes, which is very unusual in a tourist town at
such a quiet time of the year," said Mr Smith.
the Smith family thought nothing more of the encounter - and even the next day
when the story broke they still didn't make the connection.
home two weeks when my son rang me up and asked was he dreaming or did we meet a
man carrying a child the night Madeleine was taken," said Mr Smith.
remembered the same recollection, and I felt we should report it to the police.
been beating ourselves up that we should have made the link sooner, if only we'd
remembered the next day.
said you see these things on holiday all the time."
did contact the Portuguese police once they had returned to Ireland, but say
they have had no contact with the officers investigating the case since May last
"I rang the
Portuguese police and they took a statement from me on the phone," said Mr
me to make a statement to the Gardai, which I did, and two days later
got on to us.
son, Peter, my youngest daughter, Aoife, and I then flew to Luz to make a
statement. They didn't seem to be the most efficient police you ever came across
- and that was the last time we had any contact with the investigation.
know if this information will help the McCanns, but anything we can do to help
try to solve it, we will.
looking at all the commotion on Sky News and we really felt quite helpless. We
had two grandchildren with us at the time and it had a terrible effect on them -
they all wanted to sleep in the same room as us."
But Mr Smith
is certain that the man he and his family saw that night was not
who is still officially an "arguido" in the Madeleine McCann investigation.
police it was definitely not him because the man wasn't as big as Murat - I
think I would have recognised him because I'd met him several times previously.
wearing beige trousers and a darker top. We all put him in his early 40s and I
didn't think he was Portuguese."
sighting is similar to the one reported by
Jane Tanner, a friend of the McCann family.
for the McCanns said detectives from the
hired to investigate the case are now hoping to speak to the Smiths.
Smith, 58, does not wish to appear on camera in order to protect his family from