Madeleine McCann's abductor: A Considerate Criminal

The bed from which it is claimed, by the McCanns, that Madeleine was abducted


By Dr Martin Roberts
28 October 2009


No, not the ocean-going child trafficker selling his prey on to a comfortable life in the Antipodes. Nor yet the dark-skinned Algerian (mafia boss, drug dealer, child snatcher), who apparently could not have cared less whether Madeleine was 'placed' with paedophiles, a family, or even a family of paedophiles. The title concerns the individual who went to such extraordinary lengths, not simply to do his master's bidding, but to comply in a manner more thoughtful even than that of the parents whose child he was intent on appropriating.

The burglar's principle is akin to that of the professional boxer: Get in. Get the job done. Get out. No messing. Someone stealing a child from its own domicile (the rarest of child abduction scenarios) would surely not embellish the proceedings unnecessarily, any more than might a jewel thief. And yet, in the case of Madeleine McCann, we have a child removed from her bed, some would say by a stalker, in pursuance of an almost apologetic crime.

A 'cold case review', conducted for the Daily Express not long ago by Donal MacIntyre, found favour with investigators working for the McCanns. MacIntyre postulated that Madeleine's eventual abductor carried out a 'dry run' the evening beforehand, disturbing the children in the process. Thus was the felon's conscience pricked at the outset, for on the Thursday evening he was as quiet as a church mouse, cautiously entering the darkened apartment, most probably through the unlocked sliding patio doors to the rear, and shortly before Gerry McCann himself entered more obtrusively through the front door, even though he knew it made enough noise to disturb the sleeping children in the bedroom adjacent (which is why, according to his 'Madeleine Was Here' documentary statement, he and others 'ended up coming through the back.' Except, of course, he didn't. He persisted in coming through the front).

So there they all were between 9.10 and 9.15 p.m., sound, if not altogether safe, inside apartment 5A: Gerry, the lurking yet inconspicuous abductor, and the children - all still asleep. Madeleine, in particular, was sleeping almost 'al fresco.' Gerry's less than photographic memory of her dormant position is reflected in his arguido statement, given on 7 September, 2007:

'Moreover, he says that with respect to Madeleine she was in the same position where he had left her at the beginning of the night. Madeleine was lying down on her left side, completely uncovered, i.e. lying on top of the covers with the soft toy and blanket, both pink, next to her head; he does not know if they were in the position that can be seen in the photograph attached to the files.'

Two years later, and after much greater consideration of the evidence, Gerry feels he can be a touch more precise:

"So, I actually came in and Madeleine was just at the top of the bed here, where I'd left her lying and the covers were folded down and she had her cuddle cat and blanket, were just by her head." ('Madeleine Was Here' documentary, broadcast 07 May 2009).

To the abductor's advantage then, Madeleine did not have to be lifted out of her bed, merely off it. But how far, exactly, were the covers turned down?

According to the PJ's report of Gerry McCanns' witness statement, made on 10 May 2007, and which Dr McCann signed as an accurate record of the interview:

"Also relevant to the bed where his daughter slept is how it was found on the night of the disappearance. States that his daughter slept without the covers, as was normal, due to the heat, with the bed sheets folded towards the foot of the bed."

So Madeleine, unencumbered by the bedclothes at her feet, could be lifted straight off the bed.

Once Gerry had turned and left, this is eventually what the perpetrator must have done; but only eventually. First he took care to minimise any trauma to the children by sedating them, with chloroform by all accounts (this must have been after Gerry had left the apartment or he would have smelt it). Next he lifted Madeleine up and either placed her temporarily on the other (vacant) bed in the room, or carried her into the lounge and set her down on the sofa while he (re)turned to make her bed! Unbelievable? Well, someone must have pulled the covers back up to the position in which they were photographed by the PJ, tucked neatly in at the side by the wall and with just the one corner turned back. Matthew Oldfield did not enter the room subsequently and the McCanns, we know, were very conscientious about not touching things, having due regard to 'the way the scene was left.'

We can only suppose therefore that the abductor made the bed after removing Madeleine from it. And that's not all. While still in the room he drew back the curtains, then opened the window and shutters to release the tell-tale aroma of chloroform. Never mind that no-one heard him do so, he must have aerated the room somehow because Oldfield, arriving barely twenty minutes later, did not detect any unusual odours either. He mistakenly thought the window was closed also. Perhaps it was. Perhaps the sedative-wielding abductor, on opening the window, realized how chilly was the night air and thought, 'I'll just give it a minute or two,' then closed it again. Kate McCann, in contrast, appears later to have been oblivious to the cold, despite the window having been open after all; for fully forty-five minutes in that case. Some abductors simply cannot make up their minds it seems. They also seem unable to leave fingerprints of any kind on doors or windows, despite opening and closing them repeatedly.

The following is an excerpt from Matthew Oldfield's Rogatory interview with Leicestershire police:

4078: "The curtains were drawn and weren't blowing around?"

Matthew Oldfield: "Yeah."


Matthew Oldfield: "No, no, we've talked about that before, I didn't smell anything, I mean, I could see the children breathing, but I didn't clock it as abnormal, errm... it'd be completely to speculate to say whether their breathing was fast or... I couldn't say, I mean, they were breathing and that's what, you know... and that was what I was there to check, errm... no, no funny sort of smells, no sort of funny draughts, no sort of funny sort of noises, no, errm... nothing that I can think of for that. I mean, it was a complete... just a shock out of the blue when, you know, I'd been in and then suddenly somebody's saying Madeleine's missing, there was nothing that made me think: 'Oh'."

Kate McCann's concern for her children's health expressed itself in surreptitious attempts on the night to ascertain that they were still breathing (holding her fingers beneath the twins nostrils), and a suggestion, some three months later, that their little bodies be tested for the presence of foreign chemicals. Why the twins' breathing was not as obvious to her as it was to Matthew Oldfield is something else she might care to explain (Let that be question 49). She didn't even need Oldfield's night vision, because the lights in the apartment were on by this time.

But to return to our industrious abductor. Having picked Madeleine up once more, he pursued one of two courses of action. He either (a) Made his way to the front door of the apartment, opened it with one hand whilst supporting the child with his other arm (see, for example, Gerry McCann carrying one of the twins down the steps from their homecoming aeroplane), exited the apartment, then stopped, turned, and closed the door behind him, or (b) Passed Madeleine through the open window to a waiting accomplice, who had shrewdly anticipated his help would be needed, then followed her through the same aperture, some three feet off the floor, without so much as grazing the lichen on the sill, and somehow drawing the curtains together again, from outside now, allowing them to conceal the window from Matthew Oldfield and afterwards to billow instructively for Kate McCann.

'He who hesitates is lost,' as the saying goes. Our conscientious abductor almost precipitated his own downfall by devoting so much of his time to being considerate. Had Jane Tanner been better informed when she spotted him at 9.20 p.m. (according to the timeline as originally constructed by the committee of diners) he, or his assistant, might even have been apprehended. Still, his accomplishments in the time available were quite remarkable. Gerry must have spent at least a couple of minutes inside the apartment himself, staring down at his three children, visiting the bathroom etc., so abduction activities could not have commenced until 9.12 p.m. at the earliest. And yet the miscreant is on the street at 9.20 p.m., by which time he has: 1. Chloroformed three children individually. 2. Moved Madeleine from bed to bed (or into the lounge). 3. Made her bed, not forgetting to turn back the covers a little. 4. Noiselessly (i.e. slowly) opened the bedroom window and shutters. 5. Retrieved Madeleine, either from the spare bed or the sofa, and made his way out, all inside eight minutes at most (or virtually no time at all if the first of the Tapas group's timelines is to be believed), his thoughtful deeds bracketed as if by bookends. Having closed the patio doors behind him on the way in, he drew the curtains (or closed the front door) behind him on the way out, leaving no trace of his presence save the visible record of his own domesticity.

I ask you, would an opportunist kidnapper, aware that he had but a 'small window of opportunity' within which to operate, do any of these things? A 'grab-and-go' abduction it clearly was not.

PeterMac's Free e-book: What really happened to Madeleine McCann?

Gonçalo Amaral's 'Maddie: Truth of the Lie

Richard D. Hall: 'When Madeleine Died?'

Richard D. Hall: 'When Madeleine Died?'
Please click on image to view all three Madeleine films

Prime Minister introduces Prime Suspect to Royalty

Prime Minister introduces Prime Suspect to Royalty

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