Scotland Yard’s “a pervert dunnit” line of investigation is vanishingly unlikely to produce a result but at least spares the parents and their traumatised friends further stressful questioning.
An “unaugmented” image of a paedophile abductor
We’ve pointed out over the years the high fantasy component in the various sightings and drawings of “suspects” produced by Mitchell and his experts. These supposedly eye-witness derived images are clearly monsters, not human beings, as a comparison of any of them with photographs of their claimed originals easily demonstrates. Nobody ever, anywhere, looked remotely like “Pimpleman”.
Not as nice as he looks
You see them every day on the tube
There’s no need to wander into the land of deep psychological theory and Rorschach blots to dismiss them; clearly the images are predominantly imagination-based, indicating that the kernel of original observation at their heart, if it ever existed, is infinitesimal and has been completely overlaid by the imaginations of those who have been prompted or pushed into producing something for the dodgy investigators.
Typical charity collector ID card
The exception, of course, proves the rule: Smithman, now the only local suspect who has neither been traced, identified or dismissed, is boringly human and realistic and therefore least likely to have been contaminated by imaginative augmentation. The drawings of him, unlike the others, show no sign of what eye-witnesses think predatory paedophiles should look like or what their interrogators hope the suspect did look like: remember, the straw-clutching claims of conscious or unconscious “cuing” by Martin Grime, so beloved of the fervent McCann supporters, are a mere hopeful supposition while the evidence for interrogator-cuing and imaginative witness response has been conclusively demonstrated many times in miscarriage of justice reviews.
So rapist or kidnapping paedophiles are pay-dirt for anyone hoping that the investigation will sink into the sands: most people have never knowingly seen a paedophile who preys on strangers and very few policemen have ever seen members of a “paedophile ring”, that beloved phlogiston of our times. We wouldn’t, of course, suggest that that is what Gerry McCann was hoping would happen but everyone, after all, wants a quiet life and in the nature of things you search for monsters far and wide, from the Balkans to the antipodes, while you search for likely suspects close to home.
Unlike the innocent parents their fanatical supporters seem irresistibly attracted to the idea of distant monsters but acutely uncomfortable at the idea of a local cuckoo-in-the-nest “normal” looking paedophile like many of us have met, whether as Father Christmases, children’s party entertainers or dodgy “uncles”. But that’s a matter for them.
Anyway, the Yard aren’t going to be making the trauma of the Tapas Nine even worse by closely questioning them in connection with these stranger paedophiles, for what information could they provide? No, Smelly Binman, like Pimpleman before him, will be for others – eyewitnesses, victims, forensic scientists, Mirror journalists – to pursue and identify while the holidaymakers sleep soundly in their beds.
When it comes to the other (very) publicly known line of investigation, the “burglary gone wrong” it is a rather different matter. For some reason people have derided the burglary theory but should they? Yes, there are difficulties with it, such as a burglary that touched no valuables but popped an infant in the swag-bag instead, which on the face of it cannot qualify as a “burglary”, attempted or otherwise; the absence of any evidence of struggle or capture, either aural or visual; the fact that carrying a kid out of the window would delay any flight; and the fact that the suspects so far are, to put it mildly, unlikely to have had good contact with those mysterious infant buyers who infest our big cities or sail the world in gin-palaces while their baby-orders are fulfilled; the ones they’ve flagged seem to have been losers or junkies – did they expect to swap Madeleine, dead or alive, with a local dealer for a ten euro bag?
But we think these kneejerk objections miss the point: the parents witnessed the evidence of a break-in and it’s time they had the chance to be listened to properly. Alive to the accusations that the 2007 investigation “crowded out” possible intruder evidence by concentrating almost exclusively on the unfortunate parents the Anglo-Portuguese teams owe it to the pair to ensure that this time the evidence is studied in depth, not dismissed prematurely. Kate McCann has to be given the chance to tell everything she knows about the sights that greeted her in Apartment 5A without being interrupted; she can enlarge on the various clues that convinced her that this was indeed a forced entry while her questioners listen attentively, rather than dismissing her as the PJ did in 2007.
Gerry McCann, of course, was not such a critical witness but he too deserves to be heard with respect, not derision. In view of the new timelines provided by the identification of the man carrying the child, his crucial evidence about the state of the bedroom door earlier in the evening and his recovered memory of a possible intruder at 9.05 deserve to be looked at anew – it could be evidence, for example, of an earlier reconnaissance by one or more accomplices.
The various friends and family members can throw much more light on the signs of disturbance than they could in 2007, scattered as these witnesses were all over Europe by the time the PJ studied what they’d said. All of them, for example, will be able to say exactly how they gained their shared knowledge of the state of the shutters and other critical details. This, in conjunction with the comparative analysis of the Nine’s statements by the PJ (withheld, for some reason from the public case files) should at last vindicate the parents’ neglected claims and lead to an early conviction.
Finally, independent witnesses like Mark Warner and Ocean Club employees can enlarge on what they saw of the apartment after the intruders had gone and just what the victims had to say about their shocking ordeal at the time. No longer will it be, unfairly, the parents’ word alone against the rest of the world.
We should all welcome this attempt to right the wrongs and insufficiencies of the original investigation even though it’s bound to cause the family and their friends very considerable, perhaps dreadful, stress as they relive those terrible hours. And we shouldn’t make their ordeal worse by expecting them to discuss these intimate and important matters publicly.
The good news is that this work is well under way. As the Mirror has been telling us, the number of close independent witnesses being questioned is already considerable; according to rumour John Hill, who backed the pair’s claims to the hilt, his wife and Sylvia Batista, perhaps the most important independent witnesses to the break-in and its aftermath, are next in line and will be questioned in December. Whether the Mirror will have anything to say about their evidence is another matter. Somehow we doubt it.
Unkempt homeless PDL junkie burglar seen carrying child in swagbag