The parents of
have told how it was only a last-minute change
of plan that led them to leave their children alone on the night their daughter
Kate and Gerry McCann
said that they had planned to take the family to The
Millennium, a restaurant half a mile away. But because Madeleine and their
Sean and Amelie, were tired they decided to put them to bed and eat at
the tapas restaurant near their
They sat down at 9pm and within an hour Madeleine had vanished. The couple
speak about their change of heart during a two-hour documentary, Madeleine,
Year On, Campaign for Change to be televised tonight.
Mrs McCann’s mother,
62, from Liverpool,
said she wanted to “shake” them both for leaving her granddaughter alone.
“I could shake all of them, every single one of them,” she said. “You find
yourself over and over again in your head thinking: 'Why did they think it
would be all right?’”
The documentary, filmed over four months, focuses on how the McCanns have coped
and their campaign for the introduction of a Europe-wide Amber Alert early
warning system for missing children used successfully in the US.
They talk frankly about their feelings, with Mrs McCann regularly breaking
On Madeleine’s disappearance
Mr McCann said that, as the search of the
holiday complex in Praia da Luz
began, he was gripped by “absolute devastation and total, just total
He said: “Everyone knows the fear, fear for your daughter, fear for yourself,
fear for your family, fear for everything and that horrible kind of adrenalin:
Mrs McCann stayed in a bedroom praying. She said: “It was really cold. I knew
what pyjamas she had on and I just thought she’s going to be freezing. And it
was just dark and dark and every minute seemed like an hour.
“Obviously, we were up all night and just waited for the first bit of light at
Mr McCann added: “And then we went out searching, the two of us. We were saying
over and over again just let her be found, let her be found.”
With no sign of Madeleine, police suspicions soon turned on the couple and the
theory they had killed Madeleine by accident and hid her body. In August, they
were declared arguidos or persons of interest to the inquiry.
On being made suspects
Mrs McCann said the initial reaction was fury that the focus had been taken
away from the hunt for Madeleine.
She said: “As soon as I realised the theory that Madeleine was dead and that
we’d been involved, it just hit home: they haven’t been looking for Madeleine.
I just felt yet again my daughter has had such a disservice.
“I started thinking 'if they’re saying about us being involved with Madeleine,
you know it’s not too long before they say what about Sean and Amelie?’”
She said she thought of herself as a “lioness and her cubs”, saying: “I’d do
whatever it took to protect them.”
It emerged yesterday that their status as arguidos will remain in place for a
further three months.
On hate mail
The McCanns have boxes marked “nutty” and “nasty” in which to file hate mail.
One was a Christmas card which read in part: “Gerry and Kate, how can you use
the money given by poor people in good faith to pay your mortgage on your
mansion. You ******* thieving bastards. Your brat is dead because of your
drunken arrogance. Shame on you. I curse you and your family to suffer forever.
You are scum.”
On the Amber Alert system
Mr McCann said they felt a “moral obligation” to improve the “haphazard and
disorganised” response to missing children in Europe.
He said: “If you find yourself in that horrible situation we did, you want to
know a photograph’s gone out, a description, borders are being alerted and
there is the best possible chance of finding that child quickly.”
On the future
Mrs McCann said they will be forever driven in their search for Madeleine until
they had proof she was dead.
She said: “We’re never going to get to a day where you think OK we’ve tried
everything now, (that) we’re exhausted and need to start living. I can’t
imagine ever getting to that day.
“I just think we need to know because the thought of living like this for
another 40 years isn’t exactly a happy prospect.”