Jane Tanner (pic:nbpress)
EXCLUSIVE THE SEARCH FOR MADELEINE DAY 178 'It was 9.15pm and he
looked a bit odd' 'But I never imagined girl was Maddie'
A friend of
Kate and Gerry McCann
described for the first time the moment she believes she saw
Madeleine being snatched.
Tanner is haunted by the image of a man "striding
urgently" away from the McCanns' apartment with a barefooted
child slumped in his arms.
She admits thinking he "looked a bit odd" but says she never
imagined the youngster he was carrying could be four-year-old
Madeleine...until the alarm was raised 45 minutes later that she
was missing. And by then it was too late.
Jane was dining with Kate and Gerry on the night
Madeleine disappeared. She saw the man when she went
to check on her own daughter. It was her description which led
of a man carrying a child
released earlier this week. Jane, 36, told a friend: "I never in
a million years would have imagined that it was Maddie being
"The first thing that raced into my head after finding out she
was missing was this person I'd seen."
As Kate and Gerry began a frantic hunt for their daughter,
horrified Jane twice told police about the dark-haired man she'd
seen walking off carrying a child. The first time was at
11.15pm, then again at 3am. She was astonished that detectives
failed to release the information to appeal for witnesses for
another 22 days.
Jane and partner
also 36, from
Exeter, Devon, were among seven friends who were holidaying with
the McCanns in
Praia da Luz.
All nine were dining together at a
restaurant on the night Madeleine disappeared.
had gone to check on Madeleine and her
brother and sister at about 9.05pm. Ten minutes
later, Jane left the tapas bar and was on her way back to her
apartment to check on her own daughter when she saw the man
heading away from the McCanns' apartment, down the hill.
Jane's friend said: "It was about 9.15pm when Jane saw the man.
She said that although he looked a bit odd and the child he was
carrying had bare feet on a cold night, she never in a million
years thought it could have been Maddie. You see a lot of people
taking children to and from a nearby creche around there.
"Jane also had just passed Gerry and another man,
talking in the street, so she assumed
that Madeleine had just been checked on.
"Suddenly this man scoots across in front of her with the child,
which she thinks is a bit strange because the child was in
pyjamas and had no shoes or socks on. He wasn't running, he
wasn't walking, but he was striding. It was like an urgent walk.
"Jane knows it was a child from the size of the person being
carried. It was obviously a small child. There was no doubt in
her mind. There have been reports the child was held in a
blanket. But Jane says that is not true."
Jane arrived at her
checked on her
daughter and then returned to the tapas bar. Soon after, Jane
says that another friend
37, and her
partner Russell headed off to make their checks on the kids. But
Jane's daughter had become ill and Matthew came back to fetch
On his way back - between 9.30pm and 9.45pm - he stopped and
listened at the door of the McCanns' apartment but did not
"Jane finished her meal and went up to the apartment straight
away to see her daughter," the friend said. "Around 10 or 15
minutes later, Kate discovered that Madeleine was gone.
"Jane heard shouting outside and came out and saw Matthew's wife
Rachel, who told her Maddie was missing.
"The first thing that came into Jane's head was this person
she'd seen. She felt complete horror. Kate was screaming 'She's
gone, she's gone' and there was a huge panic."
The local civilian police force arrived to carry out
door-to-door inquiries, knocking on Jane's door at 11.15pm. "She
told police about the man as soon as they arrived in her
apartment," the friend said. "She also then told detectives
during her interview with them in the early hours of the morning
of May 4 and Gerry was present at that interview.
"Jane did feel that her sighting was taken seriously but it was
frustrating that the police didn't realise a description of the
The height of the man - aged around 35 with black hair, wearing
a maroon shirt, camel-coloured trousers and black or brown shoes
- was also miscalculated by cops when they converted feet into
Jane says the person she saw was 5ft 9ins rather than 5ft 8ins
as previously reported. She is also adamant the child was not
wrapped in a blanket.
Jane will be asked to recount what she saw over the coming weeks
when she and the other friends are re-interviewed by Portuguese
police in the UK.
Last night it emerged that Kate and Gerry might have to wait a
YEAR to see police files on them explaining why they are
Portuguese newspaper 24 Horas reported that prosecutors have
applied to judge Pedro Frias to extend the deadline by giving
the case "special complexity" status.
The paper said Madeleine's parents were told yesterday they
might have to wait until August 2008 to see police papers
outlining the case against them. They deny any involvement in
The paper said the request came because Portuguese police are
still waiting for full DNA results from a UK lab and the chance
to quiz the Tapas Nine - the McCanns and their holiday friends -
on British soil. Yesterday it was also reported that detectives
are still waiting for the couple's UK phone operators to send a
list of their calls the night Madeleine disappeared.
An insider said: "Portuguese police say it is hampering their
investigation. But you have to question why they've been so
quick to jump on the McCanns when they've yet to see something
as basic as their phone records."
Meanwhile Kate and Gerry are having panic buttons installed at
home as police step down the round-the-clock vigil outside their
The couple have had a constant police guard since arriving back
from Portugal seven weeks ago.
Heart specialist Gerry, 39, is returning to work on Thursday. He
took twins Sean and Amelie to a park near his home in Rothley,