Express 11 May 2007 [Now removed from internet]
By David Pilditch and Matt Drake in Praia da
parents of missing Madeleine McCann
faced fresh agony last night when police
announced they were scaling down the
Police and volunteers have been hard at
work scouring the 150-square-mile area
around the Algarve resort of Praia da
Luz where Maddy was snatched from the
family’s holiday apartment eight days
But the officer in charge of the
investigation has decided to call off
the local hunt because nothing has been
The shock decision prompted increased
criticism of their bungled inquiry into
the abduction of the three-year-old
Briton and the way the hunt for the
toddler has been conducted.
Police spokesman Chief Inspector
Olegario Sousa, said: searches of the
local area “initiated as soon as the
disappearance was reported” were “coming
to an end”. He added: “All the places
have been checked. The results are
But he added that police were “still
looking” for Maddy. “We are pursuing
lines of investigation. It was a
decision of the officer in charge of the
case. So I think they have changed
Mr Sousa refused to confirm if police
now believe Maddy is being held in
another part of Portugal or has been
smuggled abroad. “I will not speculate
on this,” he said.
Maddy’s parents also faced the harrowing
task yesterday of scanning CCTV film for
a glimpse of their kidnapped daughter.
Footage at a garage in Portugal captured
an image of three suspects, including a
woman, with a girl who matched Maddy’s
description. The camera also caught the
car’s British number plate and the
registration has been circulated by
Interpol and British police.
We are pursuing lines of investigation.
It was a decision of the officer in
charge of the case. So I think they have
Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa
Kate and Gerry McCann were driven at
speed from their holiday apartment to a
police station in Portimao to help
officers examine the tapes after Mrs
McCann again went to the local church to
pray for her daughter.
Bill Henderson, the British Consul in
the Algarve, was seen leaving the police
headquarters while Mr and Mrs McCann
were still inside.
Two of the three suspects in the CCTV
footage that may show the missing girl
have been identified by a man who
claimed he caught them photographing his
own child two weeks ago.
The witness, Portuguese-born Nuno
Lourenco who lives in Germany, said the
gang attempted to abduct his own young
He told detectives that he saw a man of
English appearance photographing his
daughter, described as strikingly
similar in appearance to Maddy, on April
30 in Sagres, a town just a few miles
from the holiday complex where the
McCann family was staying.
The witness, who with his German wife
has two children aged two and four, said
he chased the man, who fled, jumping
into a car with a woman and another man
before speeding off. Mr Lourenco is
believed to have provided the
authorities with a photograph taken on
his mobile phone.
The witness has told officers he was
“100 per cent certain” they were the
same people caught on CCTV with the girl
matching Maddy’s description hours after
she went missing.
The description of the woman also
matches that given by a witness who
spotted someone acting suspiciously
outside Madeleine’s bedroom on the night
of her disappearance. The CCTV footage
from the garage shows a young girl with
a blonde, middle-aged woman and two men.
The child apparently wanted to say
something, which made staff suspicious.
Crimestoppers has revealed that police
are examining 14 potentially vital new
leads after hundreds of calls from
Portugal to a new number, 44 1883 731
336, set up because of problems with
routing calls from Portugal to its
normal 0800 555 111 number.