segunda-feira, 31 de outubro de 2011

Something's Missing, 15 September 2011


By Dr Martin Roberts
15 September 2011

From which something is missing.

An all-too-common discovery when opening last year's jig-saw puzzle at Christmas is that there's a piece missing. Sometimes, trying to do the same thing with the same pieces simply leads to a different outcome. Take for example this description by Kate McCann of husband Gerry's behaviour, from her bestseller, Madeleine:

"Gerry was distraught now. He was on his knees, sobbing, his head hung low."

Sounds familiar.

Compare it with this statement of Kate's from the televised documentary 'Madeleine Was Here' of two years ago:

"I think it's actually going through the scenario of that night as well, you know, errm... I mean, you know, even what I can remember of the night, you know, seeing Gerry, that distraught really, sobbing, on the floor."

Earlier this year, I asked the question, 'Which night?' (see article - Uneasy Lies The Head, McCannfiles, 3 July), there being no known circumstance in which Kate could have observed Gerry on the floor that night. Kate has, it seems, since decided that the night in question was the one on which the McCanns' Portuguese lawyer, Carlos Pinto de Abreu, proffered the 'deal' that wasn't.

That's handy. Now when people are formally called to account for the truth, rather than offer loose accounts of it, Carlos could be invited to confirm his recollection of a prostrate, sobbing Gerry McCann, reacting to his offer on behalf of the PJ.

Their nomination as 'core participants' in the Leveson inquiry suggests that someone considers the McCanns have something to say for themselves. Horses for courses then. When have the McCanns not had something to say? Oh, I remember. September 7, 2007. Whatever happened to, 'All I could do was to tell the police the truth - again - and hope that was what they were actually interested in.' (p.237)? That principle very soon went AWOL, didn't it?

There is something else missing from the story of the McCanns in Portugal; a certain emotional response. And by that I do not mean the disciplined withholding of tears on the advice of third-party experts (maybe 'cuddle cat' was preferred to a handkerchief for that very reason). What should have been in evidence, and was not, stems from an observation Kate herself makes on p.242 of her 'account:'

"Faced with something...way beyond the sphere of your experience, it is natural to dismiss it as impossible, but that doesn't mean it is."

Q: What, in particular, was beyond Kate (or even Gerry's) experience?

A: Sniffer dogs.

Speaking of (or rather denigrating) Ricardo Paiva, Kate comments, "What did heknow about low-copy DNA?" (obviously not as much as she herself knew about Low Copy Number DNA - LCN for short). "These dogs had never been used in Portugal before." As if their noses had been detained on entry into the country.

Deliberately misleading waffle aside ("As we now know, the chemicals believed to create the 'odour of death', putrescence and cadaverine, last no longer than thirty days.") at the time when the McCanns were first confronted with the dogs' reactions within apartment 5A and to their personal effects exclusively, their understanding of the basis for the dogs' behaviour, the EVRD in particular was - zero, i.e., it was way beyond the sphere of their experience.

So, put yourself in the position of a parent who knows their child is asleep at 9.05 and, because someone else is convinced she saw it happen, carried off at 9.15. (When asked by reporter Sandra Felgueiras which of the many sightings of Madeleine 'touched' them most, Gerry, aiming for his ear no doubt, scratches the back of his neck, then answers: "The sightings on the night.").

As Kate's narrative goes: "Supposing she had been killed - and we think this extremely unlikely - she must have been taken out of the apartment within minutes." Kate "struggled to understand how, never mind why, somebody could have killed Madeleine and removed her body within such a short time frame." "Did they (the PJ) really believe that a dog could smell the 'odour of death' three months later from a body that had been removed so swiftly?"

Well yes, they did believe that, and with good reason. The self same dog had done it many times before, and over a longer interval. But Kate's emotions are the more important here. " me, as Madeleine's mother, it didn't have to make sense at this point. The merest suggestion from Ricardo that it was even possible she had been killed in that flat was like a knife being twisted into my chest."

First we should indeed 'mind why' somebody would have killed Madeleine and removed her body. The mantra from the word 'go' has been paedophilia notnecrophilia. Unless the ultimate trade was in body parts, as opposed to child pornography, the abduction of a corpse will not have occurred. In any case, Madeleine was alive, wasn't she? So when, out of the blue, the Portuguese police presented the McCanns with indicators of a corpse having spent sufficient time inside apartment 5A as to leave a forensic trace, what was their reaction? Did Kate, as instinctive as the next person, exclaim exactly as you or I might have done in the circumstances, knowing that our sleeping child had disappeared within minutes? Did she, or Gerry, ever declare, "That's impossible!"?

Instructively, the McCanns reaction was not one of flabbergasted disbelief. On the contrary, and despite Kate McCann's account of her scepticism as regards the dogs' capabilities, we have the pair of them tacitly acknowledging the status quo.Gerry, whilst 'researching the validity of sniffer-dog evidence' announced that 'Seany' (Kate's term) had taken an unexpected fancy to sea-bass (potentially a source of cadaverine-like chemical odour). Were the McCanns accustomed to preparing their meals on (or, like Bedouin, eating them off) the floor? And how did the mobile corpse come to sprinkle its presence throughout the apartment; everywhere except for the very bedroom from which it was 'taken'? Then of course there is the issue of the hire car, and all manner of things transported in the spare wheel well! Kate, it was suggested, moonlighted in her beach wear as a mortician during her tenure as a locum G.P.

Despite Kate's 'holier-than-thou' posture in her discussion of the 'evidence' therefore, the simple fact is that, of the two mutually exclusive postulates - Madeleine dead vs. Madeleine abducted (alive), it is the former which is given more weight by the parents. Instead of dismissing the proposition as categorically impossible, they each, in their fashion, attempted to explain away the relevant indicators, whilst at the same time calling their own 'hypothesis' into question ("We strongly believe Madeleine was alive when she was taken."). Well, if you don'tknow...

'Madeleine' by Kate McCann. An account of the truth. From which something is missing.
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