The youngster disappeared on May 3, 2007, while sleeping in Apartment 5A of the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz, as her parents ate dinner at a tapas restaurant just metres away. German media recently reported that police searching a property – linked to prime suspect Christian B – had found a hidden cellar. It came after three days of relentless excavation work at the holiday chalet in Seelze, outside Hanover, using ground-penetrating radar, sniffer dogs and a drone.
Kate and Gerry McCann have always supported the theory that Maddie was snatched by an opportunist criminal working in the local area.
Reports in the Portuguese newspaper ‘Correio de Manha’ indicated that the new prime suspect may have been tipped off by a hotel employee about British tourists leaving valuables in their apartments while going out for long dinners.
Kate and Gerry were dining out with their seven friends – Jane Tanner, Russell O’Brien, Matthew and Rachael Oldfield, David and Fiona Payne, and Dianne Webster – when Maddie disappeared.
In her book, ‘Madeleine: Our Daughter’s Disappearance and the Continuing Search for Her,’ Kate detailed the group’s routine over the week and how it may have aided someone who was monitoring them.
Kate McCann made ‘horror’ discovery while looking at Portuguese police files
German police are searching an allotment in Hanover
She wrote: “Gerry and I have always quite liked having a routine, though we wouldn’t say we were obsessed by it.
”Our children, like most children, seemed to like it and this holiday was no exception.
“It’s hard to accept that living our lives in such an ordinary way may have been our downfall.
“Was someone watching us that week? Watching Madeleine? Taking notes of our days?
“In spite of what we’d been told about booking the tapas restaurant, Rachael managed to get a table for nine at 8:30pm pencilled in for the rest of the week after having a word with the receptionist at the pool and tapas area.”
Kate went on to reveal how she had found a “horror” reminder of this after looking through police files a year later.
READ MORE: Kate McCann questioned investigation into ‘German paedophiles’ in Maddie hunt 10 YEARS ago
Sniffer dogs were on scene last week
She added: “It wasn’t until a year later, when I was combing through the Portuguese police files that I discovered that the note requesting our block booking was written in a staff message book, which sat on a desk at the pool reception for most of the day.
“This book was by definition accessible to all staff and, albeit unintentionally, probably to guests and visitors, too.
“To my horror, I saw that, no doubt in all innocence and simply to explain why she was bending the rules a bit, the receptionist had added the reason for our request.
“[It was because] we wanted to eat close to our apartment as we were leaving our young children alone there and checking on them intermittently.”
Kate also went on to detail why their holiday apartment’s location was significant.
She wrote: “Our apartments were in a five-storey block accessed from the front by a road – Rua Dr Agostinho da Silva.
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Maddie disappeared from Apartment 5A
“Ours, 5A, was on the corner of the block.
“Though I envied David and Fiona with their sea view, being on the ground floor meant we didn’t have to worry about the children’s safety on a balcony.”
But, chillingly, Kate soon learned that these benefits may have also played into a criminal’s hands.
She added: “Later, we were told by the British police that the ground-floor location, access to roads front and side, secluded entrance and partial tree cover made our apartment a prime target for burglars and criminals.
“Never once did this occur to us when we arrived.”
During the ITV documentary ‘Madeleine McCann: The Hunt for the Prime Suspect’ presenter Julie Etchingham investigated why it had taken more than 13 years to link the new prime suspect to the case, claiming that British assistance was “unwelcome” at the start.
The youngster vanished just before her fourth birthday
Her parents were eating dinner just metres away
Graham Hill, a former detective with Surrey Police who flew to Portugal in 2007, said: “It became very frustrating, I sent lots of verbal and written reports back to London about the difficulties we were experiencing.
“After just over a week we decided that, actually, it probably wasn’t serving any purpose for us to remain there and we returned back to the UK.”
Ms Etchingham revealed how a “vital piece of evidence” was found before noting that it could have potentially linked the suspect to the case 13 years ago.
She said: “But not before one vital piece of evidence was gathered by the Portuguese – a log of all the phone calls that had been made in the area on the evening Madeleine vanished.
“While investigators pursued other suspects, what no one realised was that, hidden amongst the thousands of numbers, was one that belonged to a convicted sex offender who had once lived less than two miles from where the McCanns were staying.”
Kate and Gerry McCann hope to find out what happened to their daughter
In June, an appeal for information was made by British, Portuguese and German police regarding the new prime suspect who was seen driving a campervan in the area of Praia da Luz around the time of the disappearance and a 30-minute call made to his phone in the area where Maddie vanished.
A phone allegedly belonging to Christian B was “pinged” by a cell phone tower in Praia da Luz on the night Maddie went missing.
The mystery call was received on a mobile phone that is believed to belong to the suspect at 7.32pm and finished at 8.02pm.
Maddie was last seen at 9.05pm, when her father Gerry checked the room and left via the unlocked patio doors.
The series also probed why more questions were not asked by the Portuguese police of Christian B, a known criminal working in the area who was arrested for theft just one year before Maddie disappeared.
Investigators noted the suspect’s other vehicle, a Jaguar, which was transferred to someone else’s name the day after Maddie vanished.
Relations between officials investigating the case have also become strained as Scotland Yard continues to treat their investigation as a “missing persons” case and state that German authorities have not revealed evidence that Maddie is dead.
Police in Portugal have also been searching wells in Vila do Bispo – just a 10-minute drive from the Ocean Club resort Maddie vanished from – but authorities in Germany and Britain say they are unaware of what prompted the investigation.
‘Madeleine: Our daughter’s disappearance and the continuing search for her’ was published by Transworld Publishers Ltd in 2011 and is available here.
Source Daily Express :: UK Feed