17 May, 2012 @ 17:50
6 mins read

Maddie in Spain?

image of what madeleine mcann would look like now five years after disappearance

By Wendy Williams

EVERY hour – even every minute – children go missing around the world.

Due to a lack of coherent data the exact number is unknown but the estimations are extremely disturbing.

This year alone eight million children are expected to go missing, and some of these will never be found.

With this in mind, May 25 marks International Missing Children’s Day.

It shares the date with the day six-year-old Etan Patz went missing in New York in 1979, never to be seen again.

The day is intended to encourage everyone to remember the children who are missing and send a message of support to the  parents who have  often campaigned tirelessly to find answers.

One of the most high-profile campaigns is, of course, that of Madeleine McCann (below, how experts believe she would look now) who vanished from Portugal on May 3, 2007, just days before her fourth birthday.

Her departure is very much back in the news – particularly in Spain – with the fifth anniversary having just passed, heralded with a spate of sightings and a new police probe launched around Nerja.

“It is only since Madeleine was taken from us, that Gerry and myself have become aware of just how many children go missing each year,” explained her mother Kate McCann this week.

“The scale of the problem is huge. In fact, it is terrifying.

“It is the most painful and agonising experience you could ever imagine,” she added.

“My thoughts of the fear, confusion and loss of love and security that my precious daughter has had to endure are unbearable – crippling. And yet I am not the victim, Madeleine is.

“No child should EVER have to experience something so terrible.”

The last confirmed sighting of Madeleine was in the early evening of May 3 by Miguel Matias, manager of the beachside Paraiso restaurant, who saw dad Gerry dancing with his daughter while the family ate a meal on the terrace.

Since then there have been many reported sightings of Madeleine in both Portugal and Spain as well as elsewhere in the world, yet, oddly perhaps, not one has produced any firm leads.

Nor, however, have most been conclusively eliminated.

This month marks the fifth anniversary since Maddie vanished, and police have issued a new photo of what they believe Maddie may look like now.

It comes a year after the Metropolitan Police – at the bidding of Prime Minister David Cameron – ordered a complete review of the case.

Since then there has been a renewed surge in publicity, as well as in sightings.

And Kate McCann is, at least, upbeat insisting ‘the chances of finding Madeleine are now significantly greater’.

“The term ‘mystery’ (commonly used by the media) is not applicable until all possible avenues have been explored.

“They haven’t been, and can’t be until the case is reopened,” she insisted.

Intriguingly, as reported in the Olive Press, many of the apparent sightings have been around Spain, with lots of people believing she could easily be living here.

It would have been easy for a possible kidnapper to sneak the toddler across the border and disappear into Spain.

Particularly as Portuguese police failed to inform the border of a missing toddler for 12 hours and, crucially, the CCTV on the A22 motorway was not working on the night in question.

This suspicion was heightened when a taxi driver came forward a fortnight ago claiming he had taken four adults with a young girl, looking like Madeleine, from a pick up in the Algarve towards Spain.

Antonio Castela, 72, went to Portugal’s CID, after three men, a woman and a young girl got into his cab on May 4 2007 in Monte Gordo and driving the group to Vila Real de Santo Antonio, where they drove away in a blue jeep.

Gerry McCann has always maintained there is a ‘very real possibility’ his daughter is in Spain.

“It’s about 90 minutes drive away so if the perpetrator had a car waiting, she could easily have been moved to Spain,” he has said.

Indeed in August 2009 it emerged that just 72 hours after Madeleine disappeared, two British men were approached, in Barcelona, by a ‘Victoria Beckham lookalike’ who reportedly asked: “Are you here to deliver my new daughter?”

Two detectives working with the Met Police’s Operation Grange actually flew to Spain in November 2011, to re-investigate that incident.

According to reports they have been back on various occasions since, always refusing to comment on the case.

Most recently Portuguese police sent a request to their Spanish counterparts to investigate a sighting in Nerja.

Off the back of this, Olive Press reader Rose Johnson (left), 70, came forward to insist she saw the missing girl playing on Penoncillo beach – between Torrox and Nerja – last summer.

It came just weeks after another Olive Press reader Yvonne Tunnicliffe insisted she was ‘100 per cent sure’ she saw Maddie while out on a shopping trip in Alhaurin two years ago.

Since then the Olive Press has also investigated sightings in nearby Sayalonga and Cabopino.

Many people have questioned the value of investigating these sightings but the McCann family continues to ask the public to report anything that could provide a clue.

“People have asked (usually in a critical manner) why has Madeleine received such attention when there are thousands of missing children around the world?

“My feeling is that the publicity surrounding Madeleine’s abduction was not inappropriate. Every child in such a situation should receive this same amount of attention, but it shouldn’t be down to the family to instigate it,” said Kate.

As we go to print, Portuguese police are still refusing to officially reopen the case, despite British police claiming there are 195 new leads as a result of Operation Grange launched last year.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood even went on record this month to say he ‘genuinely’ believes she could be alive.

He added that the original investigation was flawed because police were looking for a dead person and got it into their minds that the parents were to blame.

There are still several vocal groups that continue to uphold this theory and there are websites dedicated to bringing the parents ‘to justice.’

But the only thing that is certain is that Maddie is still missing and her parents are continuing the campaign to find her.

Just as parents around the world are campaigning to find their missing children.

Here the Olive Press looks look at a few of the cases of children who have gone missing from Spain…

Irish teenager Amy Fitzpatrick vanished without trace while walking home on New Year’s Day in 2008.
Despite a high profile campaign no trace of the 15-year-old has ever been found.
A lot of mystery surrounds the disappearance and, as reported in the Olive Press, police files emerged last year allegedly confirming she was a wild child living a lifestyle spiralling out of control.
An Olive Press reader recently dismissed claims that Amy ‘had to forage for food in the bins’ but confirmed that the teen spent four months living with her, ‘on and off’, instead of with her parents.
Incredibly, mother Audrey Fitzpatrick has recently claimed that Amy could have been murdered by convicted killer Eric ‘Lucky’ Wilson.
Wilson is currently serving 23 years in prison for shooting down Dan Smith outside the Lounge Bar, in Riviera, in June 2010.
Audrey made a formal statement to police in Ireland after ‘an underworld source’ approached them alleging Dubliner Wilson had boasted about killing Amy.

Yeremi Vargas was just seven years old when he disappeared from outside his family home on Gran Canaria five years ago.
His bespectacled smiling face has since become well known across Spain.
But there has been no trace of him.
This despite the police insisting at the time that they were confident he could not have left the Canary Islands as all boats were stopped from leaving within hours of his disappearance and those that had already left were searched when they reached their destination.
His mother Ithaisa Suarez, who was just 16 when Yeremi was born, maintains her son was kidnapped. “I called him in for lunch and he nodded and said he’d be there in a moment,” she says.
“Five minutes – it couldn’t have been more than five minutes, I put my head round the door and he was gone.”
There were no witnesses to his disappearance but police reopened the case in March this year, exactly five years after Yeremi vanished, following a new lead involving a white Opel Corsa, seen in the area at the time.

Jose and Ruth
The two siblings Jose and Ruth Breton, two and six, disappeared from a park in Cordoba last October.
Their dad Jose Breton has since been arrested over their disappearance and is being held in prison.
Meanwhile their mother Ruth Ortiz has publicly declared she believes her ex-husband murdered them.
Police have failed to find any trace of them despite several searches of his family home with radar equipment.
But the judge in the preliminary hearing has now said a third party could be implicated.
Security cameras show Breton arriving at his parents home with another man.
And Judge Jose Luis Rodriguez Lianz thinks this other man could have moved the children, and acted ‘through friendship or even for money’.

Eloise Horsfield

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  1. There was no cctv of madeleine at the beach on 3rd May, Mattias mixed the days up, it was the Tuesday. This is the cctv for May 3rd and the mccanns were not there,get your facts right olive press. The official police statements also state the mccanns were not on the beach 3rd May.


    irresponsible and lazy journalism

  2. Could you also investigate the discrepancy in the taxi driver story, why when it first came out four years ago he said he saw them on 3rd May and in the recycled story it became May 4th? You also have to answer why you are using a picture of madeleine so called age progressed instead of the little Vargas boy as if Madeleines face is not famous enough. What about Rose and the other woman seeing Madeleine on a beach, that story has been debunked. The German couple did not have dodgy numberplates and they had their own daughter.

  3. Nice one Olive Press. About time the missing children spotlight shone on someone other than poor Maddie. Perhaps the “related articles” column at the side of these pieces could also be as mixed in future? Keep up the good work.

  4. The Olive Press wrote: “The last confirmed sighting of Madeleine was in the early evening of May 3 by Miguel Matias, manager of the beachside Paraiso restaurant, who saw dad Gerry dancing with his daughter while the family ate a meal on the terrace.” Actually, this was NOT confirmed by the Portuguese Police, as their published files make crystal clear. The video handed in by Miguel Matias was far too grainy for anyone to be identified with certainty, nor could the police be certain about the date. And in any case, if you look at the witness accounts of the McCanns and their 7 friends, NONE of them say that the McCanns and the children were at the Paraiso restaurant that evening. The Olive Press neds to check its facts on this controversial and mysterious case much more carefully.

  5. Honestly you’d think you’d have had your fingers burnt enough over the story about German couple, not to get your fact right about the taxi driver.

    You do know the mccanns spokesperson already completely discounted this story when it came out first time around don’t you?

  6. Andy Redwood never said the original investigation was flawed because they were looking for a dead person. In a recent article, right at the end, the one about rose johnson spotting maddie on a beach, you quoted Ian Horrocks as having said that. Can you amend it? Because its not correct. You do not have to publish this message, just letting you know.

  7. dave2 lol
    bit like the mccanns and mitchell slagging off correia the spiritualist lawyer after his pond dive as an opportunist then supporting him cos he attacked mr amaral hahahahahahaha

  8. Sorry to dampen your obvious enthusiasm for the millions of missing children story, but if you go to the official website of the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, and search on Portugal in the last 10 years, there is ONE. Madeleine. In Spain there are 9. Apart from Amy and the two from Cordoba all the rest are clearly with the other parent. The problem may lie with the very imprecise use of the word “missing”.

  9. i just googled National Centre for Missing… and second result was INTERnational Center for Missing…
    According to this site the count is 18 for Spain in last 10 years.
    But it also says 2 for portugal – both Madeleine.

    Anyone know a reliable source of numbers?

  10. I think Madeleine’s face is here because generally the topics on offer are about her. But we know of other children who have gone missing, but really only brought to light by Madeleine. In other words, we are now wiser about the extent of this problem in the world and in Portugal/Spain in particular as we research anything and everything Madeleine related in the hope of finding the missing piece of the jigsaw.

    Don’t forget Joana Cipriano went missing and was never found.

    I notice Anthony Bennett getting his halfpenneth worth in here. The man should be dismissed as nothing more than a contemptible liar who has caused much trouble in UK over the disappearance of this poor child. He is actually even now in contempt of court.

    Was it this man putting forth the idea that the couples were dining at the Paraiso Restaurant? I would take that with a pinch of salt too as they usually dined at The Tapas bar on the complex, which was yards away rather than 100s of yards away!!

  11. I still hope that madeline will be found soon. Let it be a lesson to all, you simply cannot take your eyes of young children on holiday, i wouldn’t even leave mine outside the toilet, we all want to spend time together as a family anyway.

  12. Next week, the long-running libel trial of Drs Kate and Gerald McCann versus Dr Goncalo Amaral reaches its climax, with the final hearing beginning on Thursday 13 September. Was Dr Amaral – AND HIS ENTIRE TEAM OF DETECTIVES – wrong to suggest that the evidence pointed to Madeleine McCann having died in her parents’ apartment? Was Dr Amaral wrong to use, as a strong indicator of what happened, the evidence of two cadaver dogs, trained by one of the finest police dog handlers in the world, who alerted to the past presence of a human corpse in 11 places associated with the McCanns in Praia da Luz, but nowhere else? Maybe we shall all find out a great deal more about Madeleine’s fate at this trial, due to finish on 20 September

  13. The two cadaver dogs and their trainer who have undisputedly proven their accuracy and worth previously in many similar cases. Dr. Amarals very thorough investigation into this harrowing case. Why did Dr. Kate McCann refuse to answer the 48 questions asked by the Portuguese Police on 7.9.2007 when she would have been no doubt looking for Madeleine, why the non-cooperation which appears to me to be either a smokescreen or obstruction to the Police enquiries. It did not help in any way unless someone was trying to hide something. Goodness knows what actually happened to dear little Madeleine and I pray for Justice for that little girl. I feel sure that something, and I do not know what, happened to Madeleine in that flat. This based on the cadaver dogs findings and Dr. Amarals investigations. Please may something conclusive be the outcome.

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