will never forget the day she stared into the 'dead eyes' of the man she
three years ago
'There was just nothing in his eyes, no soul, no life, nothing,' she
said, drawing on a cigarette to calm her nerves as she relives the close
encounter she had in
Praia da Luz.
Home care coordinator Gail had hired a '2million villa in April 2007 to
celebrate her 50th birthday with friends and family.
The party of 14 flew to Portugal on April 18 and Gail had a lovely first
four days enjoying time with her two grandchildren in the villa's pool
and at the nearby beach.
the villa slept only nine, two couples and a boy of two stayed in the
complex ' directly above
where the McCanns stayed
the next week.
Missing Madeleine McCann
April 20 the group went to the
Paraiso cafe on the beach for lunch. As
they enjoyed their meal it began to rain and they noticed a scruffy man
standing on the beach getting drenched in the downpour.
They drove back to the villa, where the children played in the pool and
the sun shone again.
Between 4 and 5pm there was a ring on the door at the villa, which is
situated in a quiet street some 20 minutes walk from the beach.
Gail's astonishment it was the
she had seen a few hours earlier
getting soaked on the beach. He was aged between 40 and 45 and about six
feet tall with an olive complexion.
appeared Mediterranean but not Portuguese and spoke fairly good English,
and was clean shaven apart from his moustache.
wore a heavy cotton khaki jacket and a green or blue t-shirt and khaki
combat trousers. Around his waist was a black leather bum bag.
told Gail that he was collecting money for an orphanage in the nearby
village of Espiche.
Moving from foot to foot and waving what appeared to be ID documents, he
said an English couple had been killed in a motorway smash nearby and
their three children were being looked after at the orphanage.
'He was very pushy and intimidating,' said Gail. 'He was waving his
hands and came out with this story, which I didn't believe, to get me to
hand over some cash. He kept staring right at me, virtually imploring me
to give money, but I wouldn't.
spoke good English but it wasn't really with a Portuguese accent. My
grandchildren were in the pool and my husband had gone out and I just
wanted him to go away.
'I've been to Portugal many times and I've never had anyone come to the
door asking for money before. His clothing and hair still looked wet
from the rain. The whole situation was odd and made me uncomfortable.
After 10 minutes or so he suddenly stopped talking and just walked off.'
believes the man may have followed the group from the beach and could
have been looking over the villa wall at her grandchildren in the pool.
days later on April 22, Gail and the group saw the man again, standing
near a group of children who were being taken to the beach by Mark
said: 'At first it looked like he was with the children and I remember
thinking maybe he was raising money for an orphanage. Then my daughter
pointed out that the children weren't orphans, they were from the Mark
'Although he was walking near the children it was clear that he wasn't
with them and I recall thinking that it all seemed a little bit odd. But
I thought nothing much more of it and we carried on enjoying our
After returning home and hearing of Madeleine's abduction a week later,
Gail contacted the police.
May 21 she gave a statement to a detective from the
which was liaising with Portuguese
January 2008 she was contacted by the
and agreed to sit for 10 hours with an artist
to create the first full facial image of the suspect. 'I was happy to do
anything I could to help,' she said.
July she was shown film of the man working at a market and later an
investigator working for the
McCanns flew over to show her images of
five men, none of whom she recognised.
have a very clear image in my mind of the man I saw and I think it will
stay with me for the rest of my life,' she said. 'At first I just
thought he was a conman but
I believe he could be much more dangerous. I will never forget his dark,
dead eyes and the way he threw his arms about in a very jerky way.
was very agitated at the front door of the villa and he looked quite
disturbed when he was wandering around on the beach in the rain. The
sooner he is found the better.'
said her memories of what was a fantastic 50th birthday celebration have
been marred by the kidnapping of Madeline.
Seldom a day passes when she doesn't think of the mysterious man.
said: 'In the early days after hearing about the kidnapping, I just had
this horrible empty feeling in the pit of my stomach.
'I couldn't get the image of the man out of my head and I was racking my
brains trying to remember everything he said and every detail about him.
he followed the members of our group, including a boy of two, who was
staying at the ocean club'
am left with a strong sense of frustration because this is still