The night that Madeleine McCann
abducted was not the first time that her parents had left her alone
while on holiday, according to reports in Portugal.
The newspaper Correio da Manha says that the McCanns had left their
children alone before during their holiday in the Algarve - a
routine that, while normal at
Praia da Luz, may have made it easy
to plan the abduction.
"Police have reconstructed the holiday routines of the McCanns and
have come to the conclusion that the children were left alone on
other occasions," the newspaper says.
It reported that throughout the week the
and their friends made a habit of suppers by the pool
while the children - Madeleine, her twin siblings, and three other
children - slept alone in the apartments. The night she was
abducted, Madeleine's parents had been checking on her roughly every
Kate McCann takes daughter Amelie to a creche this
morning, while the search for Maddy continues
to police from employees at the resort said that neither the McCanns
nor other parents had demonstrated any worry about leaving the
children alone. Employees also said this was normal behaviour at
Praia da Luz.
The nightly routine, if observed by the kidnapper, would have made
it easy to plan the kidnapping.
Last night two "Cracker-style" criminal behaviour experts from
Britain flew into the Algarve to join investigators.
An appeal for help in the search has also gone out over the world
wide web, with the Child Exploitation
and Online Protection Centre issuing a statement in English,
Portuguese, and Spanish. An e-poster with
reportedly created by her aunt
McCann, is also circulating on the Internet.
A senior detective with experience of child abduction cases and a
behavioural expert on paedophiles flew out after Portuguese
authorities accepted an offer of help.
Portuguese detectives have no clear description of the suspect they
are hunting over the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine
The desperate state of the investigation was underlined today as it
emerged that the
had no facial features and
lacked details of any sort.
Today one man who has been shown the portrait ridiculed its quality,
describing it as "nothing more than an egg with a side parting".
Simon Russell, 40, revealed that officers even admitted the e-fit
Maddy: Missing for six days
The experts were called in as police in the UK privately declared
astonishment at the "hopeless" Portuguese handling of the case.
The British ambassador to Portugal has defended the police search
for Madeleine, who went missing from an Algarve holiday resort six
said he had been assured by the Portuguese authorities that
"everything possible" was being done to ensure the girl's safe
His comments came after police said they had stepped up their
After visiting Madeleine's distraught parents
John Buck emerged to say that the couple
appreciated the Portuguese efforts and said specialists from the two
countries were working well together.
Mr Buck said: "This is, and must remain, a
"As you know, the Portuguese police operate under Portuguese law,
and Portuguese law puts constraints on what they can say publicly
and the information they can release."
He added: "I, and I know Kate and Gerry, with whom I've just been
speaking for the past hour, are very grateful for their efforts."
Fireman search a shed in an abandoned farmhouse in the
continuing search for Madeleine McCann
He also revealed he had been in touch with Portuguese cabinet
ministers and the office of the Prime Minister.
Mr Buck, who has visited the couple repeatedly throughout their
ordeal, said after his latest visit: "I wanted to assure myself
personally that the necessary links between British and Portuguese
experts here on the ground were working well, and they are."
It is six days since Madeleine, from Rothley in Leicestershire, was
snatched as she slept in the family's
holiday apartment in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz.
Kate and Gerry McCann plead for information on missing
Madeleine after a Mother's Day service on Sunday
Meanwhile, Mr and Mrs McCann have been left "in the dark", about the
investigation, said a family friend.
said: "They know as
much as any of us know."
In the family's home village of Rothley, near Leicester, Madeleine's
family are holding up with difficulty. They are very frustrated with
the lack of information."
Leicestershire Police has sent three liaison officers to
help the McCanns, both 38, but it is understood that they too have
been "banging their heads against brick walls" with their Portuguese
They have not expressed their frustrations publicly for reasons of
diplomacy, but a source said: "They have been putting questions on
behalf of the family but getting zero response."
The family released a new statement on Wednesday afternoon, saying:
"We are grateful to everyone searching for Madeleine. We are
channeling our efforts into the search for her and continue to
The family did not single out the police for their efforts.
The e-poster, reportedly created by Madeleine's aunt,
circulating on the Internet today
Police in the UK have supplied detectives in the Algarve with a list
who have moved to the
region or are known to travel there.
Detectives in Leicestershire are also gathering statements from
holidaymakers who were at the Mark Warner resort in Praia da Luz
around the time Madeleine vanished and have now returned home.
Despite the McCanns' frustration, Portuguese police have repeatedly
hidden behind a law which they say prevents them revealing any
details and keeping even the family, let alone the media, fully
informed of any developments.
In fact, though the Penal Process Code does silence them while an
investigation is ongoing, there is a provision for the rule to be
broken if the public is in danger, or if media reports need to be
say there are grounds for using either or both
exceptions to allow police fully to involve the press and public in
Last night Portuguese police defended their operation, giving out
details of their
and revealing that 350
people have now called with suspicious
For the first time in five days, Chief Inspector
offered some concrete information,
disclosing that 500 apartments had been searched, as well as ten
miles of fields and rivers. He said 100 foreign nationals had been