RETHINKING THE FACTS
May 3rd 2007, 5.30pm. Terrace of the Paraiso Restaurant, Praia da Luz, 600 metres from the resort complex.
Apart from the McCanns and Diane Webster, Fiona Payne’s mother, the whole group of friends are having something to eat. The children are running and playing on the terrace. Others of Madeleine’s age, are coming and going between the restaurant and the beach. Everything is peaceful on this late afternoon. At 6.13pm, the men leave the table and go on foot to the resort. A quarter of an hour later, it’s the turn of the women and children to go back. A few minutes go by. David Payne catches up with Madeleine’s father, who is playing tennis, and asks him where Kate is. Gerry replies that she has gone back to the apartment with Madeleine and the twins. David goes there immediately.
What did he go there to do? How long did he stay there? How were the children? Did he see them, did he play with them? From that moment on, the witness statements differ. According to Gerald, he stayed in the apartment for 30 minutes; according to Kate, on the other hand, no more than 30 seconds. This difference of opinion is important enough to be taken into consideration. It’s not the only one. David Payne allegedly went to the McCanns’ apartment to find out if Madeleine’s mother needed anything, if he could help her to take the children to the play area. He relates having seen Madeleine and the twins; the image apparently evoked for him that of three immaculate angels. Let’s note that at 7pm, the last person to see Maddie – apart from her parents – is David Payne.
There is a whole other version of that late afternoon, that of Fiona Payne. According to her, Gerry was not playing tennis but was in the apartment with Kate and the children. Apparently, she accompanied her husband when he went to the McCanns’ apartment. Who is telling the truth? The photos taken on the terrace of the Paraiso prove that Fiona, her friends and their children left the restaurant 15 minutes after the men’s departure – one of them David. What do these easily discernible contradictions signify?
May 4th 2007, 7am Sargaçal, a village close to Vila da Luz
Y.M., an English woman, aged 52, a social worker with child protection services for more than twenty-five years, is spending her holiday in the Algarve. She is watching an English television channel when she hears the news about Madeleine’s disappearance in Vila da Luz. She decides to go there immediately to support the parents. Shortly after 9.30am, with the help of police officers on the spot, she manages to approach them. They are in the company of a man who is introduced to her as a friend of the family. The McCanns are deeply upset, and Kate cries a lot. Y.M. starts to ask them questions, to find out the frequency of visits to the children during dinner – they respond that the visits took place every hour – and asks Gerald if he is the biological father in order to immediately eliminate the hypothesis of parental abduction.
Little by little, Kate starts to get annoyed: she thinks it’s up to the police to ask these questions; besides, there should be more of them looking for her daughter; she insists that it was a couple who abducted her…Y.M. assumes that the McCanns distrust her. So, she shows them the official documents issued by the police and the English government certifying her professional qualifications. The friend of the family examines the papers and confirms their authenticity. In spite of this, Madeleine’s parents don’t seem to be very appreciative of this offer of collaboration. Y.M. tries to take Kate aside to speak to her quietly and ask her for more information about this couple who allegedly abducted her child. But she refuses, reacts aggressively and refuses to be separated from her two companions. Y.M. worries about the extreme state of agitation that Kate is in and notes that the latter has still not been examined by a doctor when she really needs to be.
During this encounter, Kate tells Y.M. that her daughter disappeared thirteen hours ago. If you do the calculation, that means that Madeleine would have been abducted at 9pm and not at 10pm. That contradiction is important; it has to be taken into account in analysing the abduction scenarios that the McCanns and their friends will relate to the police.
The couple’s spokesman, the friend who has been present throughout the encounter, ends up telling Y.M. that the McCanns want her to leave. Before leaving the scene, she advises them not to trust the media and to remain silent. Y.M. has the feeling that she has already met this man, his face seems familiar to her. Was he, perhaps, mixed up in one way or another in a case she had dealt with in the context of her work? She will later learn that he is David Payne, organiser of the trips, the same person whose sleazy attitude had been reported by S.G. and K.G. There is nothing incriminating in his past and, as we were able to verify, he has no criminal record. What we are sure of is that he has been a close friend of Madeleine’s father since university.