SKY: 14 SEPTEMBER 2007
Sky News Online Reporter
Updated: 09:28, Friday September 14, 2007
Portuguese detectives have been urged to ditch their case against Gerry and Kate
McCann and re-open the investigation into a girl who disappeared in similar
circumstances to Madeleine.
Crime expert Mark Williams-Thomas believes there are far too many similarities
between the two cases for it not to be a strong line of police inquiry.
Mr Williams-Thomas, a former detective who is now a child protection specialist,
said: "I can't accept that Gerry and Kate as parents of the child could have
been involved in her murder - even based on the fact that over 90% of murders
"What I have difficulty in understanding is they would have killed her and
stored her body for at least 25 days and left no evidence.
"At the very least the body would have started to decompose, especially in a hot
country. And there was a huge risk of someone finding that body."
He believes the answer to the case may lie in the disappearance of an
eight-year-old Portuguese girl in 2004.
Joana Cipriano vanished from a village just seven miles from Praia da Luz, where
Neither body has been found.
Joana's mother and uncle were jailed for her murder, but five police officers
have now been accused of forcing false confessions out of them.
Mr Williams-Thomas believes that because of the huge doubts over the
convictions, whoever abducted Joana is more than likely to be behind Madeleine's
He said he could not understand why the police are pursuing their "ludicrous"
investigation into the McCanns, when such a strong line of inquiry remains open.
He added: "There's not a single case in the UK where two children who are
unknown to each other have been abducted or disappeared within a period of four
years in a seven-mile radius.
"On that basis it has to be a serious line of inquiry to eliminate it as a huge
"Portugal is a small country with very, very few abductions so two young girls
vanishing out of thin air with their bodies never being recovered is something
that needs to be investigated."
Joana vanished on September 12, 2004, after setting off from home in the village
of Figueira to collect groceries. She never returned.
Like Madeleine McCann's case, the police investigation got off to a bad start.
They failed to seal off the house where she was last seen.
Joana's mother Leonor and her brother Joao were jailed for 16 years for her
But they claim they were set up and police have been named as suspects in their
Cipriano alleges police beat her to make her confess. A photograph of her
heavily-bruised face was published in Portuguese newspapers.
She says the interrogation took place without her lawyer present and without the
knowledge of the public prosecutor.
Police claimed Joana discovered Cipriano and her brother having sex when she
returned with the groceries.
They said the pair were afraid Joana would tell what she saw and killed her.
Mr Williams-Thomas says because of the doubt over the safety of the convictions,
the case should be re-opened.
But to compound the Madeleine investigation further, a senior detective in the
hunt is one of the five officers alleged to have extracted the confessions.
Goncalo Amaral, who is number three in the Madeleine inquiry, and his officers
have been accused of torture, omission of evidence and falsification of
Portugal's Ministerio Publico has not revealed who has been accused of which
Mr Williams-Thomas said: "This casts huge doubt in my mind about the integrity
of the investigating officer.
"Even if we work on the basis that he is innocent, given this allegation against
him, he shouldn't have anything to do with the Madeleine investigation."
He stressed: "There are so many similarities between the cases it has to be
"Therefore to consider solely Kate and Gerry McCann as suspects rather than
considering all the options is ludicrous."
The former detective also heavily criticised the Portuguese police inquiry into
Commenting on their emergency application to seize Gerry McCann's laptop
computer and reportedly even Madeleine's favourite toy Cuddle Cat, he said: "I
think it's amazing that they haven't already seized them.
"This is the whole problem with the case. They are treating Kate and Gerry
McCann as suspects but aren't dealing with them as suspects.
"Why didn't they do that when she went missing? They are back-tracking.
"They are trying to recover the situation, forensically and evidentally, they
lost at the first opportunity."
Another crime expert believes even if the police do charge the McCanns they will
struggle to convict them - because Madeleine's body is still missing and there
is no evidence that has been made public to suggest she is even dead.
Desmond Thomas, a former deputy head of Hampshire CID who is now a forensic
management consultant, says he does not believe anyone will be found guilty
unless a body or weapon is discovered.
He said: "I think the Portuguese police are struggling. Of course, we cannot be
sure about exactly what is in the dossier they have prepared.
"But from what we know this far, if I was bringing the charges, I would be
nervous about it being successful.
"The only way I can see anyone being successfully charged is if the body is
found and they can link it clearly to them."
This may be some solace to the McCanns, but then Portuguese courts may have a
different conviction rate to UK courts.
After all, detectives managed to "solve" Joana's murder, and there was no body
or weapon found.