One of the main difficulties in this investigation was to reconstruct the chronology of events. To determine the exact time of Madeleine’s disappearance, we were dependent on the witness statements of the parents and friends. There is no doubt that the adults (apart from the Paynes, who were using a baby monitor) were taking regular turns during dinner to check that the children were asleep – the restaurant’s register confirms it. Nevertheless, after the meal, the children could sometimes be left for more than an hour without supervision. Until May 3rd, the adults made the trip every 30 minutes; on that night, according to what the group said, the intervals between visits did not exceed 15 minutes.
TWO CONTRADICTORY LISTS AND A TORN UP CHILDREN’S BOOK
It is Russell O’Brien, who hands over to the first police officer to arrive on the scene, two lists written on the cover of a children’s sticker album, that probably belonged to Madeleine. How come it had been torn up? A child has just disappeared and one of her books is used to write on? That pays very little consideration to…Didn’t they have anything else to hand, a slip of paper or a paper napkin? Another unanswered question.
These two lists describe, hour by hour, how the evening progressed.
On the first, we read:
8.45pm – All assembled at poolside for food. 9.00pm – Matt Oldfield listens at all three windows 5A,B,D ALL shutters down. 9.15pm – Gerry McCann looks at room A ? Door open to bedroom. 9.20pm – Jane Tanner checkS 5D – Sees stranger walking, carrying a child. 9.30pm – Russell O’Brien in 5D – poorly daughter. 9.55pm 10pm – Alarm raised after Kate (At the bottom of this list is the name GERALD in block capitals.)
On the second list differences are noted that are not trivial.
8.45 – pool Matt returns 9.00 – 9.05 – listened at all three. – all shutters down. Jerry – 9 10 – 9.15 in to room – all well ? did he check? 9.20/5 – (??) Jane checked 5D Sees stranger I child. 9.30 – Russ + ( word scored through) Matt check all three 9.35 – Matt checks door Sees twins
(Translator’s note: I have tried to copy the above from the originals.)
The writing is irregular, the syntax unconventional and the description of comings and goings confused. Why two lists? And why, in the first, is apartment 5A left for 45 minutes without checking?
If the witness statements from employees and tourists are to be believed, once the alert was raised – the time is also vague, between 10pm and 10.30pm according to the investigators -, all the dinner guests rushed to the apartment, as if there was a medical emergency. Only the grandmother, Diane Webster, stayed at the table for a few more minutes. It is highly likely that inside the apartment, they went through the consequences of their actions and the failure of their monitoring system. To minimise their responsibility and not be accused of negligence, it was necessary for them to augment the frequency of their visits. With the checks so close together, who could imagine that someone would get into the apartment? It was quite simply impossible.
The existence of two lists proves that there was a debate; the differences between them probably mean that there was no interest in being accurate.
For a reason of which we are unaware, the friends have to state that Jane saw a man carrying a child at around 9.20 – 9.25pm, and between that time and the alert (towards 10pm), someone from the group went to the apartment, saw the twins in the bedroom, but cannot guarantee that Madeleine was still there. According to the second list, it is Matthew Oldfield, whom the first list says only listened at the windows of apartments 5A, 5B. and 5D; still according to that same list, he was allegedly accompanied by Russell O’Brien at around 9.30pm and saw the twins at around 9.35pm.
Matthew Oldfield’s behaviour is perplexing. According to the two timelines, Gerald’s statements and his own affirmations, he and Russell left the restaurant at around 9.30pm to go their respective apartments. Matthew entered his accommodation by the front door, left again that way after glancing at his children, crossed the car park and walked round the building to go into the McCanns’ apartment by the rear patio door – the only one not to have been locked. He then went to the children’s bedroom. In the first list, there is no mention of this visit: Matthew contented himself with listening at the windows; in the second, Russell notes that his friend saw the twins at 9.35pm.
In the course of the statement which he made to the PJ, Matthew certifies having gone to the McCann’s apartment at 9.25pm, having definitely seen the twins and noticing a definite light. What he doesn’t explain, is how he could pass the bedroom window twice without noticing that it was open. On the other hand, once inside, he noticed that it was. That happens to conveniently reinforce the hypothesis of an abduction and gives weight to Jane Tanner’s witness statement.
– Interesting! From 9.10pm, the intervals between visits go down to 5 minutes and not more than 15.
– Why did they need to tighten up the monitoring?
– Perhaps simply because it was at that time that it all happened.
We deduce from this that the alert was bound to have been raised before 10pm. Matthew Oldfield’s and Jane Tanner’s witness statements contradict each other. Those of Matthew and Kate too: the latter insists that when she went into the apartment, the bedroom door banged shut, the window was wide open and the curtains were raised by the wind. However, Matthew said nothing about all of that, only “a definite light,” in the bedroom. This is rather implausible: from his vantage point – the bedroom doorway -, the line of sight between the door and the window is limited to a straight line of close to 4 metres. Which means that if the window had been open, he would inevitably have noticed it. Why such vagueness? Another obvious mistake concerns the number of windows: he mentioned two, while in reality, there was only one. His wife repeated the same mistake when she stated that her husband had listened at two bedroom windows during his second round.
Another question concerns Jane Tanner’s second visit to apartment 5D. According to what the group says, at 9.30pm, Matt Oldfield accompanied Russell O’Brien as far as his accommodation, 5D, and both heard a child crying. Russell then stayed there. When he returned to the Tapas to let Jane know that their daughter was ill, the latter went to the child’s bedside, in 5D, and did not come back.
These contradictions cannot hide the reality: the safety of the children left a lot to be desired.