family friend of Gerry and Kate McCann has told police she saw a
blonde-haired girl being carried away from an
holiday apartment wrapped in a blanket at the time Madeleine is
believed to have been snatched from her room.
key witness, who is wracked with guilt, was on her way to dinner
with Gerry and Kate McCann when she saw the man close to the
open window of the bedroom where four-year-old Madeleine had
been sleeping. The girl he was carrying was wearing pink
pyjamas, the same as Madeleine's.
statement, which is the clearest evidence to date about what
happened to Madeleine on the night she disappeared 25 days ago,
comes as it was revealed that Mr and Mrs McCann are hoping to
meet the Pope to discuss the plight of their daughter.
parents, both strong Catholics, are expected to attend a general
Rome on Wednesday.
It will be the start of a series of visits the couple are
planning to make around
Europe to keep Madeleines case in the public eye in the
hope that she may still be found.
Clarence Mitchell, the Foreign Office liaison officer for the
family, is helping the McCanns plan the trip. ?I can confirm
that approaches have been made to Cardinal
Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor
Cormac Murphy-O?Connor and to the British ambassador to the Holy
See and we are certainly exploring the possibility of Gerry and
Kate McCann visiting
Rome to meet the
Pope in the near future,? he said.
family friend said she had see the man at 9.30pm as she arrived
late for dinner with Madeleines parents and other friends at a
tapas restaurant on the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz where
they were all staying.
did not realise the significance until Kate McCann went to check
on her children, Madeleine and two-year-old twin brother and
sister, Sean and Amelie, 30 minutes later and discovered her
elder daughter was missing. Madeleine had been wearing pink and
white pyjamas with Eeyore on them.
friend immediately reported the sighting to police but
detectives only released the description after Gordon Brown, the
Prime Minister in waiting, intervened with the Portuguese
authorities last week.
Despite the three week delay hundreds of people have called
police with information since the description was released on
Friday night. The man is white, approximately 35 to 40 years
old, of medium build and 5ft 10ins tall. He had short hair and
was wearing a dark jacket, light beige trousers and dark shoes.
least one witness has reported seeing a person carrying a child
close to the church in Praia da Luz, about 700 metres from the
Ocean Club. Mrs McCann and her husband, Gerry, yesterday made
one of their regular visits to the Catholic service at the Our
Lady of Light church where prayers were said for the safe return
of their daughter.
police source said that the friend who believes she saw
Madeleine being carried away was in the group of three British
couples and a single woman who had travelled with the McCanns to
She thought the mans behaviour was unusual but assumed it was a
father taking his sleeping daughter home had no reason at the
time to think it was suspicious.
thought it was odd, but thought it was the mans own child. He
was walking urgently, neither running or walking but something
in between,? said the source.
only when Kate said that Madeleine had gone that she made the
connection. She had seen enough to make her believe it was
Madeleine and she had described the pyjamas, which were
feels guilty that she was the last person to see Madeleine and
didn't do anything, but there is no sense of hostility (from the
McCanns),? said the police source. ?They dont blame the woman,
they feel sorry for her. But she feels guilty that she was the
last person to see Madeleine.?
McCann and her husband, Gerry, are convinced this was the
abductor and were angry at the delay in publicising the
the view of the parents this sighting was Madeleine was being
taken,? said the police source. ?They have has put a timeline
together which they have presented to police and believe this
was Madeline. That is why they have never believed she had
McCann discovered her daughter was missing when she entered her
ground-floor bedroom at 10pm. It is believed that Madeleine was
taken between 9.10pm and 9.15pm.
rear patio doors to the apartment had been left unlocked to
allow easy access for regular checks by the parents in the
group. The other parents made entered the apartment after 9.10pm
to check that the children were asleep but had not actually gone
in to the bedroom to avoid waking them.
McCann, a locum GP from Rothley in Leicestershire, realised
something was wrong when she entered the apartment as an
internal door blew shut. She found the window in the bedroom had
been opened and its shutter raised. The pink soft toy cat which
Madeleine carried with her everywhere was still in the room.
and Mrs McCann, both 38, had grown increasingly frustrated about
the failure of the Portuguese police to make a public appeal for
sightings of the abductor. When their friend returned home she
repeated the statement to Leicester police, which is
coordinating the inquiry in
Britain and regards her as the
police source admitted: ?The officers who were first given the
description just did not seem interested and they just seemed to
have filed it away.?
McCann, a consultant cardiologist, last week had several
telephone conversations with Mr Brown after the Chancellor
promised to help the couple. The pair have formed a close bond
because Mr Browns elder son, John, is slightly younger than
Madeleine and they both come from
British Government officials put pressure on their counterparts
Lisbon for the suspects description to be
released despite the appeal breaching strict Portuguese laws
covering the secrecy of police investigations.
Inspector Olegario Sousa of the Policia Judiciaria said: ?The
parents of Madeleine had already asked us to reveal the details
that could help with the investigation. The release of the
detail was authorised by the public prosecutor?.
Sousa said that since the appeal was made the calls from the
public ?are almost exclusively about the description we have
Portuguese police still have only one official suspect, Ralph
Murat. His house is less than 100 metres from where Madeleine
was snatched and he worked as an official police translator in
the investigation into her abduction.
police source said that detectives had studied computers taken
from the villa that Mr Murat, 33, shares with his mother had
found evidence of links to websites featuring paedophile
pornography and bestiality. However, there was no material
linking him to Madeleines abduction and detectives have been
unable to gather enough evidence to arrest him. The source said
that Mr Murat has ?a very interesting and relevant sexual
Murat, an estate agent, insisted yesterday: ?It isn't me. But
the description is so vague that it won't put me out of the
picture. I hope that I will soon be in a position to clear my
has been almost two weeks since my life was turned upside down
by these allegations and I am on tenterhooks about what will
happen now they have released this.?
McCann has said anyone suspected in the case should be assumed
innocent until convicted by a court.
Murats estranged wife, Dawn, said she had been twice visited by
police at her home in Hockering,
Murat said that officers asked about Mr Murat's state of mind.
"They wanted to know if he was under any stress and did I have
any fears about him.
had to explain to my little girl why her Daddy is on the TV in
our sitting room all day. I'm convinced Robert is innocent. He
would never hurt a child."
said her husband had called her 15 hours after Madeline
disappeared and asked to speak to their daughter. After they
spoke Dawn said: ?Rob told me how much better he felt now that
he had heard her voice. He said he knew she was safe.?
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