Kate McCann: ‘If I weighed another two stone, had a bigger bosom and looked more maternal, people would be more sympathetic’
In an EXCLUSIVE interview, the grandparents of Madeleine McCann tell Paddy Shennan of the terrible toll on their family as their daughter remains a suspect in the toddler’s disappearance
KATE McCann’s parents hit out at the “scurrilous rubbish” being printed about their daughter – and said she feels she is being persecuted because of her appearance.
“She said last night ‘If I weighed another two stone, had a bigger bosom and looked more maternal, people would be more sympathetic’,” Madeleine’s grandmother, Susan Healy, told the ECHO today.
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“I think it’s terrible that she’s having to think like that.
“She does feel persecuted, not by the general public who have been extremely supportive, but by some sections of the media, and I just feel it’s important I let people know she is not this person who is in control all the time.
“Kate is a very sensitive, caring person and one of the most maternal people I know – she puts me to shame. Her life revolves around her children but now she’s got to the point where she feels she is being persecuted, in her mind, if her twins, Sean and Amelie, cry in public – it’s absolutely crazy.”
She adds: “All this stuff is going on inside my poor daughter who’s not done anything wrong. She and Gerry went to a restaurant which was just metres away from their apartment and part of the holiday complex – it was a terrible mistake but they did it (every day) out of naivety.”
Although Susan and Brian Healy still cling to the hope that their four-year-old granddaughter will be found alive, they dread their worst nightmares coming true amid reports that police in Portugal are trawling a reservoir.
In a wide-ranging, often emotional and tear-filled interview, the couple, who live in Allerton, also reveal that a meeting of family and friends is taking place in Formby today to discuss the next stage of the campaign to keep the search for Madeleine in the public eye.
It’s now 166 days since Madeleine was last seen alive and Susan and Brian admit that the enormous strain is telling on all the family.
Kate’s health and well-being has given particular cause for concern, and her mum reveals: “She and Gerry do have counselling – Kate saw a counsellor at the end of last week. It’s the same person they saw in Portugal and I know it does help them.
“But I think they continually go back to the feeling that they can’t afford to go to pieces because they have to keep trying to get their daughter back – that overrides everything else they are feeling.”
Susan cannot say how, or if, any of the family will cope if there remains no news – or the worst possible news arrives. But she stresses: “Anyone would crack eventually. It’s like having a perfect family and seeing it torn to shreds.”
There have been concerns about Kate’s appearance and apparent weight loss, and her mum says: “She’s always had that kind of build and has never carried any weight. But she does look very traumatised. It must be unbearable for her to think about the possibility of never seeing Madeleine again, or that it’s going to be another six months before she sees her again.”
Regarding reports that police are focusing on a reservoir around 15 miles from Praia da Luz, Susan says: “It is scary and if it really is going on, I’ll be holding my breath.”
But the couple are hoping that the appointment of Paulo Rebelo, Portugal’s second most senior police officer, to lead the investigation in place of the much-criticised Goncalo Amaral, will give fresh impetus to the hunt.
And Susan says: “We’ve no idea when Kate and Gerry may have their suspect status lifted, but we hope it will be soon. Until it is, they are not allowed to defend themselves in public – and that is dreadful.