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Madeleine McCann: How Kate recalled image 'etched into brain' from day of disappearance


Last month, authorities investigating the 13-year case announced that the youngster is “assumed to be dead” and opened a murder investigation into a 43-year-old German man, named as Christian B. It came following an appeal for information regarding an individual who was seen driving a camper van in the area of Praia da Luz around the time of her disappearance on May 3, 2007, and a 30-minute call made to his phone in the area where Maddie vanished from. Last week it was claimed in Portuguese media that the suspect had a “female partner in crime” who was an accomplice in a series of burglaries in the Algarve in 2007, tipping him off with the “best properties to rob”.

Maddie’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, have always supported the theory that their daughter was snatched by a criminal working in the local area, and some reports have also indicated that a hotel employee may have tipped them off about British tourists leaving valuables in their apartments while going out for long dinners.

In her book, ‘Madeleine: Our Daughter’s Disappearance and the Continuing Search for Her’, Kate recalled the events of the day her daughter disappeared, including a heartbreaking decision the group of seven friends made.

She wrote: “Near the sun-loungers at the Tapas end of the swimming pool, some of our group were discussing whether to cancel our dinner booking in the evening and take the kids to the Millennium restaurant instead.

“We’d heard that another couple that we’d met had tried unsuccessfully to book a table at the Tapas restaurant and we wondered whether it was fair for us to be taking over the place.

“Although the restaurant was accepting other reservations, our party of nine occupied most of the available place and I, for one, felt rather guilty about that.

“However, when someone pointed out that we’d be gone by Saturday whereas this family was staying for another week, it didn’t seem quite so unreasonable and we decided to stick to our original plan.”

Kate went on to detail how she went to collect her daughter from the childminding service so the group – which included friends David and Fiona Payne – could enjoy lunch together.

She added: “I returned to our apartment before Gerry had finished his tennis lesson and washed and hung out Madeleine’s pyjama top on the veranda.

“After preparing some lunch, I went with Fiona to pick up Madeleine and Scarlett, who was in the adjoining Baby Club, taking her on the quicker route through the grounds of the Ocean Club, which she hadn’t yet discovered.

“Fiona and David had been windsurfing that morning and had seen Madeleine’s group, who had been down to the beach for their ‘mini-sail’ activity.

“We heard later that they’d been on a speedboat as well as a dinghy.”

Her book goes on to detail the events of one of their last moments together as a family, revealing why Kate will never forget the experience.

She added: “Some images are etched for all time on my brain, Madeleine that lunchtime is one of them. 

“She was wearing an outfit I’d bought especially for her holiday – a peach-coloured smock top from Gap and some white broderie-Anglaise shorts from Monsoon – a small extravagance, perhaps, but I’d pictured how lovely she would look in them and I’d been right.

“She was striding ahead of Fiona and me, swinging her bare arms to and fro.

“The weather was a little on the cool side and I remember thinking I should have brought a cardigan for her, although she seemed oblivious of the temperature, just happy and carefree.

“I was following her with my eye, admiring her. I wonder now, nausea rising in my throat, if someone else was doing the same.

On Thursday, ITV will air its new documentary ‘Madeleine McCann: The Hunt for the Prime Suspect’ into the recent developments.

The series, presented by Julie Etchingham, will probe why it has taken more than a decade to link the new prime suspect to the case.

 ‘Madeleine: Our daughter’s disappearance and the continuing search for her’ was published by Transworld Publishers Ltd and is available here.


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