“She died in the apartment as a result of a tragic accident and the parents simulated an abduction after failing to care of their children,” Tavares de Almeida, former chief inspector at Portimao police station
“These were the conclusions of a police report signed by me on September 10 2007,”
The McCanns arguido status was lifted after ten months in July 2008 when the Attorney General ruled there was no evidence against them.
Mr de Almeida told the court: “We have always spoken of a tragic accidental death – not homicide. The McCanns did not kill her but they concealed the body,”
Mr de Almeida, who worked under Amaral and was also taken off the case in September 2007, said the decision to designate the McCanns 'arguidos' was made by police after sniffer dogs brought to Portugal from England had carried out their searches.
Giving evidence, Mr de Almeida said that the dogs had identified blood and the scent of a human corpse inside the childrens’ bedroom and the dining room of the McCanns’ holiday flat.
The animals also reacted to traces on a piece of cloth in a villa rented by the McCanns after they left the apartment and in the boot of a rental car hired by the family several weeks after Madeleine disappeared.
Mr de Almeida also complained that Portuguese police efforts to investigate the McCanns had been frustrated by their British counterparts. “We were told that the UK would not accept any investigation of the McCanns – there was a lack of cooperation,” he said.
“It was a conclusion reached by the team of Portuguese investigators as well as British police.”
He admitted that the police had been suspicious of the McCanns from the start of the investigation. “They disobeyed our request to keep quiet about the details of their daughter’s disappearance while we conducted our investigation. Instead they turned it into a media circus and that gave rise to some suspicions.”
He said that the McCanns should have faced prosecution for leaving their children alone. “They should have been pursued for neglect. People have been arrested for far less – even in the UK.”