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Madeleine McCann Witness Breaks Her Silence

Original Source: TELEGRAPH: MONDAY 17 DECEMBER 2007
By Martina Smit
Last Updated: 2:33AM GMT 17 Dec 2007
Telegraph TV: The private investigator hired by the McCanns said Madeleine could be home by Christmas
Minutes before his daughter Madeleine disappeared, Gerry McCann told a fellow holidaymaker that he and his wife would have stayed in with their children if they had not been holidaying with friends.
The revelation has been made by Bridget O'Donnell, a former BBC Crimewatch producer who got to know the McCanns at the Mark Warner resort in Praia da Luz, Portugal. She has now told her story for the first time.


"I have always believed that Kate and Gerry McCann are innocent," Miss O'Donnell wrote in an article published by The Guardian.

On the night of May 3, while walking their baby son to sleep, her partner Jes Wilkins bumped into a "relaxed and friendly" Mr McCann who had just checked on his children. "They talked about daughters, fathers, families," Miss O'Donnell wrote.

"They discussed the babysitting dilemmas at the resort and Gerry said that he and Kate would have stayed in too, if they had not been on holiday with a group."

Every night, the McCanns and their friends - whom Miss O'Donnell dubbed "The Doctors" - booked a large table at the Tapas restaurant at the Mark Warner resort.

"One man was the joker," she recalled. "He had a loud Glaswegian accent. He was Gerry McCann."

The night before Madeleine went missing, Miss O'Donnell and her partner - also a television producer - were placed at a table next to "The Doctors". Mr McCann invited them to join the group.

"We discussed the children," Miss O'Donnell wrote. "He told us they were leaving theirs sleeping in the apartments. While they chatted on, I ruminated on the pros and cons of this."

Sit-in babysitters at the resort were expensive and booked long in advance, while a group baby sitting service at the kiddie club meant that the children had to be put to sleep twice - both there and then back at their parents' apartments.

"I admired (the McCanns), in a way, for not being paranoid parents, but I decided that out apartment was too far off even to contemplate (leaving their children)," Miss McDonnell wrote. "Our baby was too young and I would worry about them waking up."

Nevertheless, the producer said she was glad her family did not get the McCanns' apartment. "It was on a corner by the road and people could see in. They were exposed."

The next day, after her partner played tennis with Mr McCann, Miss O'Donnell observed the couple. "Kate was calm, still, quietly beautiful; Gerry was confident, proud, silly, strong."

But two days later, after the events of that night, "the physical transformation of these two human beings was sickening" as she saw the McCanns at the pool.

"Kate's back and shoulders, her hands, her mouth had reshaped themselves in to the angular manifestation of a silent scream... Gerry was upright, his lips now drawn into a thin, impenetrable line."

On the Friday, locals and holidaymakers had started circulating photocopied pictures of Madeleine. "We didn't see any police," Miss O'Donnell wrote.

A uniformed Portuguese policeman and a translator - whom she later found out was Robert Murat, named by the Polícia Judiciara as an arguido or suspect in the case - later questioned Miss O'Donnell and her partner in their apartment.

"The translator had a squint and sweated slightly," she described Mr Murat. "He was breathless, perhaps a little excited. He reminded me of a boy in my class at school who was bullied."

They answered a few questions and gave their details, which the policeman took down on "the back of a bit of paper", Miss McDonnell wrote. "No notebook."

"Then he pointed to the photocopied picture of Madeleine on the table. 'Is this your daughter'' he asked. 'Er, no,' we said. 'That's the girl you are meant to be searching for.'

"My heart sank for the McCanns."

Even when the McCanns were named suspects along with Mr Murat, Miss O'Donnell still believed they were innocent.

"There were no drug-fuelled 'swingers' on our holiday; instead, there was a bunch of ordinary parents wearing Berghaus and worrying about sleep patterns. Secure in our banality, none of us imagined we were being watched.

"One group made a disastrous decision; Madeleine was vulnerable and was chosen. But in the face of such desperate audacity, it could have been any one of us.

"And when I stroke my daughter's hair, or feel her butterfly lips on my cheek, I do so in the knowledge of what night have been.

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"So my heart goes out to them, Gerry and Kate, the couple who we remember from our Portuguese holiday. They had a beautiful daughter, Madeleine, who played and danced with ours at the kiddie club. That's who we remember


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