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Dear God, no

Original Source: SUN: 07 MAY 2011
By KATE McCANN  Published: 07 May 2011


IN her book, Kate describes the full horror of the moment she went into the family's holiday apartment and discovered Madeleine had vanished from her bed.

She had been asleep in her bedroom beside twins Amelie and Sean, her two-year-old sister and brother, who were in travel cots.

Kate and Gerry, on holiday with seven friends, were dining less than 100 metres away in a tapas restaurant on the Mark Warner complex.

The adults, including Gerry and friend Matthew Oldfield, had taken it in turns to check on the children. In this extract, edited and abridged by ANTONELLA LAZZERI and OLIVER HARVEY, Kate relives the terrible discovery she made when it was her turn to check on the children:

AT 10pm I went back to the apartment myself. I entered the sitting room via the patio doors, as Gerry and Matt had done, and stood there, listening, for a few seconds.

All was silent. Then I noticed that the door to the children's bedroom was open quite wide, not how we had left it.

At first I assumed that Matt must have moved it. I walked over and gently began to pull it to. Suddenly it slammed shut, as if caught by a draught.

A little surprised, I turned to see if I'd left the patio doors open and let in the breeze. Retracing my steps, I confirmed that I hadn't.

Returning to the children's room, I opened the door a little, and as I did so glanced at Madeleine's bed.

I couldn't quite make her out in the dark. I remember looking at it and looking at it for what was probably only a few seconds, though it felt like much longer.

It seems so daft now, but I didn't switch on the light straight away. Force of habit, I suppose: taking care to avoid waking the children at all costs.

When I realised Madeleine wasn't actually there, I went through to our bedroom to see if she'd got into our bed. That would explain the open door.

On the discovery of another empty bed, the first wave of panic hit me. As I ran back into the children's room the closed curtains flew up in a gust of wind.

My heart lurched as I saw now that, behind them, the window was wide open and the shutters on the outside raised all the way up. Nausea, terror, disbelief, fear. Icy fear. Dear God, no! Please, no!

On Madeleine's bed, the top right-hand corners of the covers were still turned over, forming a neat triangle. Cuddle Cat and her pink princess blanket were lying where they'd been when we kissed her goodnight.

I dashed over to the second bed, on the other side of the travel cots, where the twins slept on, oblivious, and looked out through the window. I've no idea what I expected to see there. Refusing to acknowledge what I already knew, and perhaps automatically going into a well-practised medical emergency mode, I quickly scoured the apartment to exclude all other possibilities, mentally ticking boxes I knew, deep down, were already ticked.

I checked the wardrobe in the children's room. I ran into the kitchen, throwing open all the cupboard doors, into our bedroom, searching the wardrobes, in and out of the bathroom, all in about 15 seconds, before hurtling out through the patio doors and down towards Gerry and our friends.

As soon as our table was in sight I started screaming: "Madeleine's gone! Someone's taken her!"

Everyone seemed frozen for a split second, perhaps unable, as I'd been, to process this information. Then they all jumped up from their chairs and ran towards me. I remember Gerry saying, "She must be there!" By now, I was hysterical. "She's not! She's gone."

Everybody sprinted back to our apartment, except for Dianne, who remained in the tapas area, and Jane, who was away from the table seeing to her kids.

I remember feeling frustrated when David said, "Let's just check the apartment." I'd done that, and I knew, I knew, that Madeleine had been abducted. I ran out into the car park, flying from end to end, yelling desperately: "Madeleine! Madeleine!"

It was so cold and windy. I kept picturing her in her short-sleeved Marks and Spencer Eeyore pyjamas and feeling how chilled she would be. Bizarrely, I found myself thinking it would have been better if she'd been wearing her long-sleeved Barbie ones. Fear was shearing through my body. In the children's room, Gerry lowered the shutter at the open window. Rushing outside, he made the sickening discovery that it could be raised from this side, too, not just from inside as we'd thought.

Gerry, David, Russell and Matt split into pairs and dashed around the outside of the adjacent apartment blocks, meeting back at our flat within a couple of minutes.

Just after 10.10, Gerry asked Matt to run to the Ocean Club 24-hour reception to get the staff to call the police. All the shouting had alerted other guests and staff that something was amiss and various people were beginning to appear outside the apartment, front and back.

I vividly recall sobbing: "Not Madeleine, not Madeleine, not Madeleine." I was trying so hard to suppress the negative voice in my head tormenting me with the words: "She's gone. She's gone."

Even now, when the dark clouds close in on me, I find myself shaking my head manically and repeating over and over again: "Not Madeleine, not Madeleine. Please God, not my Madeleine."

Gerry and I were standing in the living room clutching each other, utterly distraught. I couldn't help myself, let alone try to soothe Gerry, who was in a state too harrowing for me to bear, howling for my precious little girl.

I kept blaming myself - "We've let her down! We've failed her!" - which increased Fiona's own distress. "You haven't, Kate. You haven't," she insisted.

By this time the Mark Warner people had rounded up as many of their colleagues as they could, rousing some from their beds.

Close to 10.30 they activated the company's "missing child search protocol" and mobilised people to comb the complex and its environs. At 10.35 the police had still not arrived, so Gerry asked Matt if he would find out what was happening.

John Hill, the Mark Warner resort manager, came up to the veranda behind our apartment. I screamed at him to do something. "Where are the police?" I yelled.

He tried to reassure me they'd be with us soon but I could tell that he, too, was finding the waiting difficult. Minutes felt like hours.

I was just so overwhelmed by fear, helplessness and frustration, I was hitting out at things, banging my fists on the metal railing of the veranda, trying to expel the intolerable pain inside me.

Gerry had been over to the Mini Club above the 24-hour reception, thinking that if Madeleine had been left somewhere, she might possibly make her way back to any place that was familiar to her.

Our friends were running to and from the tapas area, pleading with people to ring the police again from there. Despite the horror of the situation, some sense of the necessity to approach the crisis calmly and methodically appeared to kick in among our friends as they tried to exert a modicum of control.

What could be done? What should be done? Aware that we were only an hour and a quarter's drive from southern Spain, and beyond that lay the borderless continent of Europe - not to mention the short hop across the Strait of Gibraltar to North Africa - David was saying: "We need roadblocks set up. The borders to Spain, Morocco and Algiers need to be alerted."

Russell later asked us for our digital photos of Madeleine and went off somewhere with our camera.

Gerry was running from pillar to post, urging me to remain in the apartment with the twins so that I'd be on hand if Madeleine was found and brought back there.


He'd asked Fiona to stay with me. I was in our bedroom, on my knees beside the bed, just praying and praying and praying, begging God and Our Lady to protect Madeleine and help us find her.

I wandered into the children's bedroom several times to check on Sean and Amelie. They were both lying on their fronts in a kind of crouch, with their heads turned sideways and their knees tucked under their tummies. In spite of the noise and lights and general pandemonium, they hadn't stirred. They'd always been sound sleepers, but this seemed unnatural.

Scared for them too, I placed the palms of my hands on their backs to check for chest movement, basically, for some sign of life. Had Madeleine been given some kind of sedative to keep her quiet? Had the twins, too?


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