By Dr. Martin Roberts
October-December edition No. 66, 2008
A statement made public earlier this year by Kate McCann suggests that Madeleine was not taken from her own bed in Praia da Luz, but from her mother's.
Answering the by-now-familiar question of her responsibility for leaving the children unattended, she concludes by asking, "Is it right for somebody to go into your apartment and take your child out (of) your bed?"
This astonishing slip of the tongue casts immediate doubt on the scenario of the abduction through the window of the child's bedroom on the night of May 3 last year. The parents' bedroom was adjacent to the patio doors (through which an abductor was eventually held to have entered) and Kate is reported to have explained to police the circumstances in which one or other child had already slept with them on the two previous nights; a practice that continued afterwards with the twins, 'for comfort'.
Although the possibility of abduction seems still to exist, Kate's unguarded remark leads to a question of considerable significance; Why should anyone choose to fabricate a crime somewhere if a genuine instance of the same thing has actually occurred nearby? Such misdirection would only make sense if conducted by someone involved in both activities and the true misdemeanour were of a different nature.
A false abduction on the one hand and a non-abduction on the other would together amount to no abduction at all.
Can this extraordinary perspective be corroborated in any way, and what might that mean for the long-held sequestration theory in the case of missing Madeleine McCann?
Proving a negative postulate can be difficult. Faced with the McCann's claim of abduction, the onus was upon Portuguese investigators, either to furnish a lead to Madeleine's whereabouts or prove she had not been snatched. In the event they could do neither. But 'difficult' does not equal impossible. As the saying has it, 'The difficult we do on demand. The impossible takes a little longer.' Proving the nul-hypothesis in this instance may turn out to have been merely difficult after all.
It is now widely known that two British sniffer dogs were taken to Portugal to assist the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, and while some might consider evidence from sniffer dogs to be unreliable, denying the superior olfactory capabilities of dogs per se would be akin to dismissing a bat's feats of echo location. Man has successfully exploited the gifts of other animal species since the dawn of civilisation: Bees provide honey, geese once successfully served ancient Rome as lookouts, sacrificial songbirds have saved the lives of miners and early submariners alike. Nowadays sniffer dogs are routinely used to detect drugs, plastic explosives, fire accelerants and, of course, missing people. Hence, if a dog signals the presence of a specific scent in an unusual context, then it is entirely reasonable to consider the scent present. Dogs, unlike people, do not know how to lie. The cadaver dog employed in Portugal was no different in these important respects.
It is not however necessary to postulate a death, or levy accusations of culpable homicide, in order to progress toward an alternative explanation of Madeleine McCann's disappearance from apartment 5a. Nor is it necessary to couch discussion of the cadaver dog's behaviour in terms of corpses, despite the specificity of the odour he was trained to detect. In deference to the sensibilities of others, and for the purpose of this discussion, we may suppose, to perfectly good effect, that the dog indicated an odour with a neutral connotation; essence of lavender, for instance. Surprisingly perhaps, one need not establish, or even assume, that the scent either originated with the missing child or was somehow shared by her.
Whereabouts at the apartment was the identifiable scent detected? Predominantly on floor surfaces in and around the parents' bedroom, also on Madeleine's favourite soft toy, the last recorded position of which was adjacent to the pillow at the head of the child's bed. Hence 'lavender' was present on several immovable surfaces and one very portable one. Now, imagine you are on the point of concluding a 100 piece jig-saw puzzle, of which you had only 99 pieces at the outset. Two gaps remain to be filled, one within a white cloud, the other within an area of blue sky. The only piece you have left is blue. Where do you place it? In the space identified by the most appropriate context, obviously.
Madeleine is reported by her parents to have slept with her soft toy. But the only dormitory in which the 'essence of lavender' features as fixed is theirs, not hers. Furthermore, according to an August 2007 report in the Sunday Mirror, Kate McCann knew instantly that Madeleine had been abducted when she saw that the toy had been moved from her sleeping daughter's arms and placed on a ledge way beyond the four-year-old's reach. Judging from police photographs, there is no such ledge in the children's bedroom, but there appears to be something of the kind in the parents' room, pictured with an article of clothing laying on it.
Taken together, these observations should be sufficient to locate the soft toy in the parents' bedroom initially, not the one in which it was later photographed.
But what of Madeleine?
The same Sunday Mirror article quotes a police source as saying: "When Kate tucked Madeleine up in bed earlier in the evening she had the toy tightly in her arms as she did every night." If Madeleine held the toy in her arms every night, then wherever the toy went to bed so did the child. If the toy can be placed in the parents' bedroom, metaphorically speaking, so too can Madeleine McCann, and the situational 'double negative' alluded to previously becomes altogether more robust.
Kate McCann's all important remark is therefore substantiated. Madeleine, it seems, was not abducted from her own bed, in which case she was not abducted at all and the McCanns have been declared innocent of involvement in a crime that did not take place.
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This is the interview with Kate McCann referenced in the above article - the quote comes at 02:30.