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Could Mobile Phones Hold Vital Clue?

Original Source: SKY: 05 DECEMBER 2007
By Mark Williams-Thomas
Child protection expert Updated:06:53, Wednesday December 05, 2007
Portuguese detectives investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann discussed three key areas when they visited police and forensic experts in Britain.

First on the agenda was the DNA they submitted to the Forensic Science Service (FSS) in Birmingham.

Mobile phone data recovered from the resort of Praia da Luz and establishing the process for interviewing or re-interviewing witnesses were also talked about.

We have heard the significance that has been given to DNA - with traces found in the Renault Scenic hire car, apartments on the Portugal resort and also from items of property and clothing.

In today's policing, DNA is a powerful tool, with Home Office figures suggesting officers get approximately 3,000 matches a month.

I am certain that much of the work being undertaken by the FSS is low copy number (LCN) - a relatively new technique used to produce a DNA profile from very few cells.

This technique would be used to target areas on items where Madeleine might have had contact.

But with no significant development, it would suggest DNA evidence alone will not solve this case.

Especially if parents Gerry and Kate McCann are being considered as key suspects, as Madeleine's DNA will be all over them and items they have had contact with.

The team were also here to discuss mobile phone data, which was secured by British experts in the 10 days after Madeleine disappeared.

Although initially not analysed, it has now been and will provide vital information about mobile phone usage in and around Praia on the days leading up to Madeleine's disappearance.

This data will not be as precise as it is in the UK in locating exact position of the telephone user.

This is because the triangulation depends on masts which are close together - and the masts are quite some distance apart in Praia de Luz.

The third reason for last week's meeting was to discuss the interviewing of witnesses - including the Tapas seven - the people who were dining with the McCanns on
May 3.

It is important for the Portuguese and British police to understand how this would take place and for it to be coordinated on the ground here in the UK.

So should we expect some action over the forthcoming weeks? Yes.

We will see the Portuguese police, with the assistance of British officers, interviewing members of the group that were with Madeleine's parents - as well as the strong possibility of Gerry and Kate being re-interviewed in 2008.

With a case that continues to dominate the media and public's attention, sadly we appear to be no nearer finding Madeleine today than we were on the night she disappeared.

As the months pass, so does the likelihood of finding Madeleine or her abductor


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