Statements and newspaper reports concerning Jeremy Wilkins
PJ Files: Wilkins reports sighting of “Rasta” man to the PJ, 04 May 2007
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REPORT OF EXTERNAL DILIGENCE Date: 2007/05/04 Location: Praia da Luz – Lagos Entity determining the diligence: Employee who performed it: Manuel P., Inspector
Description and result of diligence:
Following various informal conversations related to the area of research, we were contacted by a British citizen named JEREMY MICHAEL WILKINS, holder of passport no. XXXXXX, owner of mobile phone no. +447XXXXXX, living at XXXXXX. He spends his holidays at, “WATERSIDE GARDENS,” block G4 APT 0 (about 50 metres from the apartment where the small child was)
1. that yesterday, between 20h30 and 21 hours, while he was in “THE TAPAS” bar, he noticed a person of around 1.70, with long blond hair, apparently of the “rasta style”, and dressed in green military-style clothes;
2. that this person did not stay very long and their behaviour was somewhat strange, since they seemed to be a little nervous;
3. he was alone, he did not speak to anyone and left soon afterwards;
4. the informant maintains that he has never seen this person in the village;
NOTE: The bar “THE TAPAS” is an annex to the restaurant where the parents of MADELINE were having dinner, when she allegedly disappeared;
PJ Files: Gonçalo Amaral’s fax to British police with suggested line of questioning for Jeremy Wilkins, 07 May 2007
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To: Detective Chief Superintendent Robert Hall From: Goncalo Amaral – C.I.C. no D.I.C. de PortimAo
Date: 07-05-2007 No pages : 03 N / ref: Inq. 201107.0 GALGS Subject: Request for Collaboration
In furtherance of your operation TASK and international police cooperation please see the following points:
1. Could you consider making enquiries to question JEREMY MICHAEL WILKINS (UK Passport No. XXXXXX, DOB XXXXXX). Wilkins was staying at the Ocean Club resort at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance and may have vital information. Wilkins lives at the following address, XXXXXX. Wilkins is contactable on the following telephone numbers XXXXXX and XXXXXX. We would like the following points covered if possible;
– Did Wilkins travel with anyone else?
– If he has children and what age are they?
– If he knows the group of people which MADELEINE MCCANN was part of and the apartment block where the guests were staying;
– If he knows MADELEINE’S parents and in particular her father GERALD MCCANN;
– When did he met GERALD MCCANN and in what circumstances;
– Did he play tennis with GERALD McCANN? Did he meet with him apart from playing tennis?
– Did he come to know the routine of GERALD McCANN and his family (his wife and children); If he did, when GERALD was having dinner with his wife and friends where were the children and how were they looked after?
– When was the last time he was with GERALD McCANN, when not playing tennis, before the disappearance of MADELEINE;
– On the day of the disappearance, was JEREMY out with his children in the evening? Did he meet GERALD and at what time? Where was GERALD coming from at this time?
– Exactly where was this meeting with GERALD (please obtain confirmation of the exact location on the attached map)? What was the distance of this meeting from GERALD’S apartment? Can Jeremy provide a sketch map of the location? What did they talk about at this time and for how long?
– When he was talking with GERALD, did any of Gerald’s group pass by? If so, who?
– When he was talking with GERALD did he see whether anyone passed by carrying a child in the road near the apartment block?
2. In the spirit of police to police cooperation we request the presence of a British criminal analyst who may be able to assist the enquiry;
Also the collaboration of the UK’s “Child Exploitation on Line Protection” may be useful if they wish to send one of their officers to provide assistance to the investigation;
3. We would like further information (by telephonic analysis if thought necessary) relevant to the investigation about the following subjects:
– GERALD McCANN and KATE HEALY contactable on telephone numbers XXXXXX, XXXXXX and XXXXXX. – MATTHEW DAVID OLDFIELD and RACHAEL MAMPILLY, contactable on telephone numbers XXXXXX, XXXXXX and XXXXXX. – RUSSEL JAMES O’BRIEN and JANE MICHELLE TANNER, contactable on telephone numbers XXXXXX and XXXXXX. – DAVID ANTHONY PAYNE, contactable on telephone number XXXXXX, FIONA ELAINE PAYNE, contactable on telephone number XXXXXX and DIANNE WEBSTER, contactable on telephone number XXXXXX.
Namely if there is any indication of motive for anyone in the UK to kidnap the daughter of GERALD McCann.
P/O Coordinator of Criminal Investigation
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This page confirms the fax was successfully completed at 17:05 on 07 May 2007
PJ Files: Jeremy Wilkins first statement to British police, 07 May 2007
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FROM: Rob Waddington DC 1582 TO: Portugal Incident Room AREAILPUIDEPT: Major Crime Intelligence Unit DATE: 7 May, 2007
SUBJECT: statement of Jeremy Wilkins
Please find attached statement gtom Mr Wilkins, as requested.
Unfortunately, we were not able to get hin to see the map that you provided, but he has prepared a sketch plan.
Statement of Jeremy Wilkins
This statement (consisting of 8 page(s) each signed by me) is true to the best of my knowledge and belief and I make it knowing that, if it is tendered in evidence, I shall be liable to prosecution if I have wilfully stated in it anything which I know to be false or do not believe to be true.
Signed……………………………. Date 7/5/07
I am the above named person and [missing word] at an address known by the Police.
This statement describes my holiday to the Algarve and conversation with Jerry [sic], the father of Madeline [sic] on the evening of her disappearance.
On Saturday 28th March April 2007 we arrived at the OCEAN CLUB RESORT, GARDEN APARTMENTS, PRAIA DA LUZ, ALGRARVE [sic].
I was with my wife Bridgette O’DONNELL, my XXXX daughter XXXX who is three (3) and ‘XXXX’ my son who is eight (8) months. We were placed into the apartment within block G4, apartment number letter O. There are about fifteen (15) to twenty (20) apartments within each block. The McCann family were within the next block.
On Monday 30th April 2007 I joined the tennis lessons provided by ‘MARK WARNER’ the tour operator. There were five (5) [word missing] in the group. There were [word missing] (3) females and a male I knew to be JERRY.
He is white of pale complexion, about 5’10” to 6′ 00” with a soft GLASWEGAN [sic] accent. He has dark brown hair which was short. He was of athletic build.
As part of the lesson we were paired off together. We engaged in general conversation, mainly about tennis, and football. I got the impression that he was good company, gregarious and chatty. The tennis lesson lasted about an hour. We were signed up for four (4) lessons in total. I can’t recall if I saw JERRY again that day.
On Tuesday 1st MAY 2007 we again had a tennis lesson together. After the lesson, this time we had a game of ‘doubles’ together with two (2) of his [word missing]. At this point I established that Jerry and his family had come away with a group of other families, four (4) in total. The game lasted about one hour and a quarter.
After the game we walked together with a third male called Russell or Matt to pick the children up from the ‘MINI CLUB’. This is a crèche provided by the holiday company.
We would take them there at 9 am every day until 12:30pm. I realised that Jerry had three (3) children. A girl called MADELINE and [word missing] 2 twins who were about two years of age. MADELINE was about three (3). This club would cater for three (3) to five (5) year olds. The Club was split into two (2) groups: the ‘SHARKS’ and the ‘LOBSTERS’. My son daughter was in the SHARKS group. I believe MADELINE was in the LOBSTERS so they didn’t interact as far as I know. I don’t believe that I saw the family again that day.
On Wednesday 2nd May I could see it was raining and the tennis lesson was postponed. It was re-scheduled for 2.30 pm. I found this out at a later date and missed the lesson. I arrived about five (5) minutes before the end and realised this fact. I saw the usual people at the tennis lesson. I then went back to my apartment. That evening myself and my partner attended the ‘TAPAS’ restaurant which is part of the hotel complex at the swimming pool. We sat down to eat at 7.30 pm. After about forty five (45) minutes JERRY appeared as did one of his friends. I believe this was Russell. They sat at the next table. We naturally engaged in conversation about everyday things. We spoke about childcare. That night we were att my family were using the crèche facility. We found out that the group of families were using occuping [sic] ground floor flats near the swimming pool as they were leaving the children by themselves in order for them to go to the restaurant in the evening. They would then go regularly to check the children who would be asleep.
I found out that Jerry was a cardiologist in a hospital. At this time his wife was putting the children to bed. We received a call from the crèche informing us that our son was awake. My partner left first and I followed shortly afterwards. The amount of time I spent with JERRY was about fifteen (15) to twenty (20) minutes. He remained in the restaurant. By the time we left, JERRY was with about seven (7) other people. I picked up my daughter from the crèche and then returned to the apartment.
On Thursday 3rd May 2007 at 10 am I went to the tennis lesson as usual and Jerry was there and a female. The other two (2) females were not present. We again engaged in general conversation and played the lesson for an hour. I went to the pool where BRIDGETTE was. I think JERRY’S wife, KATE was already by the pool and he joined her. JERRY and KATE were speaking to the tennis coach. We weren’t really involved in a conversation by JERRY would say the odd [word missing] and get involved in [word missing].
At 12.30 pm we went to pick XXXX [daughter] up from the crèche as usual. Everyone left the pool at about the same time. I didn’t see JERRY or KATE.
We returned to our apartment. We decided to spend the evening-in, watching television. Our son was awake and unable to sleep. I decided to take him for a walk in his pram. I left about 8.15 pm – 8.30 pm. I was pushing the pram around the complex and went to the toilet near the bar. I couldn’t see inside the restaurant. As I got the baby to sleep, I was on my way back to the apartment. I came out of the top road. I met him near some stairs and a ground floor flat.
There was a gate leading up to some stairs. I was pretty certain that he had left the apartment. We spoke for a few minutes. He said ‘you’re on walking duty’. I said I was staying in and the pro’s and con’s and what to do with the children. He said that if he was staying two (2) weeks, he may stay in one night. I don’t remember anyone else walk past with a child. The conversation lasted for about three (3) to five (5) minutes. He was acting completely normal from what I know of him so far.
I then walked back to the apartment. I had dinner, watched a DVD and went to bed at about 11 pm.
The doorbell woke us up at about 1 am. It was the resort manager who I knew to be John and one of Jerry’s friends. I think his name was Matt. He is white, slim, tall with greying hair. From previous conversations I knew him to be a diabetic specialist. We met him on the plane on the way to the destination. Matt said words to the effect that Jerry’s daughter had been abducted, and that Jerry said he had seen me and wanted to know if I had seen anything. I said ‘You’re joking’. I offered help but they said there was nothing that could be done at that stage. We remained in the apartment but could see people around the pool and at the front with torches. I also saw the police arriving. We then went to bed. The following few days it was a sombre atmosphere around the apartment complex. I last saw JERRY and KATE on SATURDAY 5th MAY 2007 at about 4 pm – 5 pm. We were sitting by the pool. I walked over to JERRY and wanted to let him know I was thinking about him. I shook his hand. He was quiet but wasn’t crying. I thought it was brave of him and his wife to go to the pool. I said ‘Hello’ to KATE. I didn’t know what to say in that situation. She looked really upset. That was the last time I physically saw JERRY and KATE. Myself and my family left the complex at 7.30 pm and flew back to GATWICK that evening, arriving at 4 am on SUNDAY.
I have drawn a map of the complex and marked an ‘X’ where I saw JERRY on Thursday evening. I [word missing] this as JW/2 [actually marked as JW/1]. I have also produced a map from the holiday brochure also with an ‘X’ where I saw JERRY on THURSDAY. I exhibit this as JW/2.
Signed and witnessed
Processo 02, Volume IIa, Page 506
Fax request for translation of Jeremy Wilkins’ statement into Portuguese, with ‘maximum urgency’, sent on 08 May 2007 at 11:53 am
Madeleine Case – A Pact of Silence, 30 June 2007 (Jeremy Wilkins name made public for the first time)
By Felicia Cabrita and Margarida Davim 30 June 2007 Thanks to Astro for translation
– Extract – Only Jane saw the man carrying a child
But there is a witness whose deposition contradicts this theory. Jeremy Wilkins – a TV producer who had met Maddie’s father during their holidays and used to play tennis with him – was walking his eight months old son at that time. He met Gerry, who went out through the apartment’s back door after having checked on the children, and the two men exchanged a brief conversation. At that time, if one is to believe the first accounts, Jane would have left Tapas in the direction of the apartment’s main entrance, and would have crossed paths with both of them. “It was a very narrow road and I think it would have been almost impossible to walk by without me taking notice”, Jeremy says, pointing out the fact that he saw no man carrying a child, as Jane states.
But Jane continues to guarantee that, at the top of the street, she saw a man with a child in his arms.
Although the area is scarcely lit, and the situation did not make her suspicious at the time, she describes the beige trousers, the dark thick jacket and the black classic-style shoes in a detailed way. Once again, Jeremy disagrees: “If that happened, I would have likely seen it”.
Maddie: The Secret Witness, 16 September 2007
Maddie: The Secret Witness News of the World (no longer available online)
TV boss holds vital clue to mystery
By Dominic Herbert & Ross Hall 16 September 2007
THIS is the secret witness whose bombshell testimony could clear the McCanns.
Pictured here for the first time, Jeremy Wilkins’ evidence blows holes in the police theory that Gerry and Kate killed four-year-old Madeleine.
Wilkins — seen outside his north west London home — was the man heart surgeon Gerry McCann, 38, spoke with for up to 15 minutes outside the holiday apartments — moments after checking on his children for the last time.
What the TV producer witnessed makes the statement he gave to police a key piece of evidence in the event of a trial.
A friend of Wilkins told the News of the World: “He is entirely convinced of Kate and Gerry’s innocence. He believes they are a decent family caught up in an unimaginable nightmare.”
We can reveal Wilkins constantly INSISTED to Portuguese detectives that Gerry was totally calm and unflustered as they chatted—far removed from the behaviour that might be expected of a man covering up the death of his daughter.
But another part of Wilkins’ evidence ironically helped shift the police focus AWAY from their original kidnap theory.
For the 36-year-old holidaymaker turned the investigation on its head when he revealed a VITAL FLAW in the statement given by key witness, Jane Tanner (right), who claims she saw a man carrying a child away from the apartment complex.
Based on what he has said, Portuguese sources confirmed that police have doubts about Miss Tanner’s evidence.
One said: “Her account has raised more questions than answers. She is high on the list of people we need to speak to again.”
Wilkins was refusing to expand on what he has told police. His girlfriend Bridget O’Donnell —who was in Praia da Luz with the producer and their eight-month-old son—said: “We have decided it’s not appropriate to talk about what happened.”
Wilkins’ pal added: “He came back from the holiday totally shell-shocked. He was part of a British crowd which included the McCanns who became friends as they holidayed in Portugal.
“He played tennis with Gerry the day before Madeleine disappeared. He has barely said a word about the whole case. He feels as a potential witness that would be inappropriate.”
Wilkins—whose production company Zig Zag has made a string of controversial TV programmes—is likely to be re-interviewed as Portuguese detectives desperately try to build a case against the McCanns.
Some of the seven diners who were at the tapas restaurant with the couple on May 3 have already travelled back to Portugal once before to go over events leading to Madeleine’s disappearance.
Next time they may be quizzed in the UK by British police assisting their EU counterparts on the inquiry.
Wilkins’ crucial encounter with Gerry took place at 9.10pm on the main street outside the apartments next to the McCanns’—and at the entrance to a narrow alleyway that runs past the back of them.
The two were both tennis fans and had played each other during the course of the holiday.
On the night Maddie disappeared Wilkins was taking his eight-month-old son for a walk.
When he bumped into Gerry the two men chatted for up to 15 minutes before the surgeon returned to the tapas bar.
It was during this period of time that Tanner, 37, another member of the McCanns’ party, said she WALKED PAST the two men on her way back to her apartment to check on her youngsters.
She told police that she saw a dark-haired man, aged about 35, carrying a child who could have been Maddie’s wrapped in a blanket at 9.15pm—when Gerry and Wilkins would still have been chatting.
But Wilkins, viewed by police as a completely independent witness, told cops he could not recall anyone walking past him. And in all the time he was there he saw NO MAN carrying a child.
The TV executive is convinced he would have seen Jane Tanner pass by.
He said: “It was a very narrow path and I think it would have been almost impossible for anyone to walk by without me noticing.”
And he also believes he would have seen the mystery man and child who would also have been just yards away.
Cops asked mum-of-two Tanner—on the holiday with with her partner Dr Russell O’Brien, 36—whether it was possible that the man and child she saw was Wilkins with his son.
But a source told us: “She was adamant that it was not Jeremy Wilkins and his child. She is certain she saw someone else and stands by her account.”
Gerry and Tanner returned to the restaurant separately shortly afterwards and it was at 10pm that Kate McCann went to check on the children and found Madeleine gone.
Wilkins’ importance in the inquiry has only been highlighted because police are troubled by possible inconsistencies in the McCann friends’ statements, including discrepancies in the times various people recall arriving at the restaurant.
The Portuguese police believe the McCanns may have been involved in Madeleine’s disappearance and think one may be covering up for the other.
Officers are probing an unlikely “three-hour window of opportunity” between 6pm and 9pm when they suspect Madeleine was killed in the apartment and her body hidden somewhere nearby. Forensic evidence gathered so far including DNA or body fluid samples is thought to be inconclusive.
Portuguese police say they could name more official suspects in the coming weeks.
PJ Files: Jeremy Wilkins second statement to British police, 31 October 2007
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To: Receiver From: DC 1756 Mike Marshall Incident: Op Task No. of pages: 3 Date: 05/11/07
Jeremy WILKINS and Bridget O’DONNELL [Address]
During the evening of Wednesday 31 October 2007, Jeremy and Bridget were visited at their home address by DC 1756 and DC 4356 from the Leicestershire Op Task team. This visit was organised to attempt to gain background information in relation to the McCann’s and members of their group whilst on holiday in the Prai Da Luz resort.
Contact was made as result of their previous interaction with the OP Task Team and their willigness to discuss their relationship with the group.
Both Jeremy and Bridget work within the television production industry producing documentary programmes. Bridget previously worked alongside the Police on the Crime Watch television programme and was aware of the importance for the need of collating background information.
Jeremy and Bridget have been married for several years and have two children, XXXX (F) 3 yrs and XXXX (M) 8 months. It may be of interest to note that these names are Hebrew names and spellings have been checked.
They chose that specific period to go to the Praia Da Luz resort because of the childcare facilities and the fact that it was the cheapest week of the season.
They flew to the resort on Saturday 28 April 2007. Whilst on the plane they came into conversation with Russell O’Brien and Mathew Oldfield due to their children being of the same age range and the fact that they were playing together on the plane.
They were also aware of the presence of their partners, Jane Tanner and Rachel Manphilly.
Upon arrival in the resort they were allocated apartment O in block G4. This block being situated near to the tennis courts and adjacent to the block in which the McCann’s apartment was situated. It is on the junction of Rua 1 De Maio and Rua Dr Agostinho da Silva, with Rua Dr Francisco Gentil Martins running parallel.
Jeremy first met Gerry at a tennis coaching session held by staff associated with the Mark Warner resort on the first Monday of their holiday (30/05/07).
He found Gerry to be amicable and willing to chat. He paired with Gerry for part of the lesson and described him as “Good company if not a little gregarious”.
He did not meet up with Gerry or any of the group again until Tues 1 May 07.
This was again during a tennis session and it was at this time he met some of the group and realised that the people he met on the Plane were indeed part of the group.
Jeremy explained that he used the crèche facility provided by the resort. This was a child care facility which allowed parents to leave their children, aged between 3 – 5yrs old, with trained staff at various times of the day. He recalled walking to the crèche with Gerry who had left Madeleine with the staff. This was about 1230 hrs on Tues 1 May. He then went on to explain that the children could be left with the staff during the evening and that most would be picked up before 10pm. It was not an unusual sight to see people walking through the site at night with a child in their arms asleep. The crèche would also provide a blanket to cover the child if required. He had taken up this facility hence his knowledge of the procedure.
Jeremy and Bridget had visited the Tapas bar on several occasions during which they noticed that the group had reserved a table for every night of their holiday. This appeared to be contrary to the set down procedure of not booking a table any further than three days ahead. The group appeared boisterous but good natured with Gerry being the central figure. His gregarious character making him appear to be the central figure in the group and almost holding court. However they did notice that David Payne was equally gregarious and almost playing along with, if not up to, Gerry.
Jeremy and Bridget became aware that although the McCanns had taken up the use of the crèche facility during the day, they had not done so for the evening hours and had left the children in the apartment but were checking on them regularly and that other members of the group appeared to be doing the same.
They expressed surprise over this as the McCanns apartment was set in a location that appeared vulnerable. They were aware that the apartment was a corner building and with easy access from the road. The apartments were not very secure and entry could easily be gained.
They went on to explain the events of the 3 May 2007.
He went to play tennis at 1030hrs and noticed Gerry was there. He engaged in general conversation with him as well as a female member of Gerry’s group, but he could not name her. After which they all went to the pool. Both Gerry and Kate were present this time and spent the majority of the time talking with the tennis coach. The coach appeared to be talking about her life in general and both Jeremy and Bridget noticed that Gerry and Kate were listening intently to her. Jeremy thought this to be courteous of them considering they did not know her.
At 1230hrs both Jeremy and Bridget went to pick up their children from the crèche. They did not have any interaction with the group again that afternoon. They decided to spend the evening in the apartment. Their son was unable to sleep so about 2015hrs, Jeremy took him, in the pushchair for a walk. He walked around the main area of the resort and eventually ended up in the Tapas bar where he used the toilet facility. He was unable to state what time this was. His son was still awake so he walked in the area of the ocean club gardens and walked along the alleyways in that general area. He eventually made his way along Rua Dr Francisco toward the direction of Rua Dr Agostinho. At this time he was walking on the right side of the road passing the Tapas bar area to his left. He noticed the bad street lighting and although it was not completely dark there was enough light to see clearly. As he approached the corner of the McCanns apartment, he saw Gerry appear from the area of the gate. He crossed the road and engaged in general conversation with Gerry. At this time they were stood with Gerry’s back to the building near to the gate and Jeremy facing him. Rua Dr Agostino was about 10 – 15 meters to his right and the pathway leading to the front of the apartment blocks about 5 meters to his left.
He was adamant that he did not see any one else in the area. When spoken to in reference to Jane Tanner walking by, he again stated that he saw no one. He also stated that he did not see or hear anyone to his right. He was aware of the recent picture in the papers re the person with a child wrapped in a blanket and in a males arms alledgedly walking across the junction to his right but again stated that he did not see any one.
The conversation with Gerry lasted for about three minutes during which Gerry was chatty and in his normal self. Jeremy then made his way back to his apartment.
They went to bed about 2300hrs but were waken about 0100hrs by a knock at the door. On answering the door they spoke with the resort manager and a person they knew was a member of the group but they only knew him as Matthew. It was then they found out that Madeleine was missing.
They had no further contact with the family apart from seeing them in passing whilst at the resort.
Several weeks later, Jeremy received calls from Gerry in relation to gaining permission from him to use his name in a portfolio of evidence being compiled by an organisation employed by the McCanns. They were very persistent and made several attempts to contact him both at work and at home. They had no objections to being included but were concerned as to the method being used.
It was a welcome spring break, a chance to relax at a child-friendly resort in Portugal. Soon Bridget O’Donnell and her partner were making friends with another holidaying family while their three-year-old daughters played together. But then Madeleine McCann went missing and everyone was sucked into a nightmare
Bridget O’Donnell Friday December 14 2007
Bridget O’Donnell. Photograph: Graeme Robertson
We lay by the members-only pool staring at the sky. Round and round, the helicopters clacked and roared. Their cameras pointed down at us, mocking the walled and gated enclave. Circles rippled out across the pool. It was the morning after Madeleine went.
Six days earlier we had landed at Faro airport. The coach was full of people like us, parents lugging multiple toddler/baby combinations. All of us had risen at dawn, rushed along motorways and hurtled across the sky in search of the modern solution to our exhaustion – the Mark Warner kiddie club. I travelled with my partner Jes, our three-year-old daughter, and our nine-month-old baby son. Praia da Luz was the nearest Mark Warner beach resort and this was the cheapest week of the year – a bargain bucket trip, for a brief lie-down.
Excitedly, we were shown to our apartments. Ours was on the fourth floor, overlooking a family and toddler pool, opposite a restaurant and bar called the Tapas. I worried about the height of the balcony. Should we ask for one on the ground floor? Was I a paranoid parent? Should I make a fuss, or just enjoy the view?
We could see the beach and a big blue sky. We went outside to explore.
We settled in over the following days. There was a warm camaraderie among the parents, a shared happy weariness and deadpan banter. Our children made friends in the kiddie club and at the drop-off, we would joke about the fact that there were 10 blonde three-year-old girls in the group. They were bound to boss around the two boys.
The children went sailing and swimming, played tennis and learned a dance routine for the end-of-week show. Each morning, our daughter ran ahead of us to get to the kiddie club. She was having a wonderful time. Jes signed up for tennis lessons. I read a book. He made friends. I read another book.
The Mark Warner nannies brought the children to the Tapas restaurant to have tea at the end of each day. It was a friendly gathering. The parents would stand and chat by the pool. We talked about the children, about what we did at home. We were hopeful about a change in the weather. We eyed our children as they played. We didn’t see anyone watching.
Some of the parents were in a larger group. Most of them worked for the NHS and had met many years before in Leicestershire. Now they lived in different parts of the UK, and this holiday was their opportunity to catch up, to introduce their children, to reunite. They booked a large table every night in the Tapas. We called them “the Doctors”. Sometimes we would sit out on our balcony and their laughter would float up around us. One man was the joker. He had a loud Glaswegian accent. He was Gerry McCann. He played tennis with Jes.
One morning, I saw Gerry and his wife Kate on their balcony, chatting to their friends on the path below. Privately I was glad we didn’t get their apartment. It was on a corner by the road and people could see in. They were exposed.
In the evenings, babysitting at the resort was a dilemma. “Sit-in” babysitters were available but were expensive and in demand, and Mark Warner blurb advised us to book well in advance. The other option was the babysitting service at the kiddie club, which was a 10-minute walk from the apartment. The children would watch a cartoon together and then be put to bed. You would then wake them, carry them back and put them to bed again in the apartment. After taking our children to dinner a couple of times, we decided on the Wednesday night to try the service at the club.
We had booked a table for two at Tapas and were placed next to the Doctors’ regular table. One by one, they started to arrive. The men came first. Gerry McCann started chatting across to Jes about tennis. Gerry was outgoing, a wisecracker, but considerate and kind, and he invited us to join them. We discussed the children. He told us they were leaving theirs sleeping in the apartments. While they chatted on, I ruminated on the pros and cons of this. I admired them, in a way, for not being paranoid parents, but I decided that our apartment was too far off even to contemplate it. Our baby was too young and I would worry about them waking up.
My phone rang as our food arrived; our baby had woken up. I walked the round trip to collect him from the kiddie club, then back to the restaurant. He kept crying and eventually we left our meal unfinished and walked back again to the club to fetch our sleeping daughter. Jes carried her home in a blanket. The next night we stayed in. It was Thursday, May 3.
Earlier that day there had been tennis lessons for the children, with some of the parents watching proudly as their girls ran across the court chasing tennis balls. They took photos. Madeleine must have been there, but I couldn’t distinguish her from the others. They all looked the same – all blonde, all pink and pretty.
Jes and Gerry were playing on the next court. Afterwards, we sat by the pool and Gerry and Kate talked enthusiastically to the tennis coach about the following day’s tournament. We watched them idly – they had a lot of time for people, they listened. Then Gerry stood up and began showing Kate his new tennis stroke. She looked at him and smiled. “You wouldn’t be interested if I talked about my tennis like that,” Jes said to me. We watched them some more. Kate was calm, still, quietly beautiful; Gerry was confident, proud, silly, strong. She watched his boyish demonstration with great seriousness and patience. That was the last time I saw them that day. Jes saw Gerry that night.
Our baby would not sleep and at about 8.30pm, Jes took him out for a walk in the buggy to settle him. Gerry was on his way back from checking on his children and the two men stopped to have a chat. They talked about daughters, fathers, families. Gerry was relaxed and friendly. They discussed the babysitting dilemmas at the resort and Gerry said that he and Kate would have stayed in too, if they had not been on holiday in a group. Jes returned to our apartment just before 9.30pm. We ate, drank wine, watched a DVD and then went to bed. On the ground floor, a completely catastrophic event was taking place. On the fourth floor of the next block, we were completely oblivious.
At 1am there was a frantic banging on our door. Jes got up to answer. I stayed listening in the dark. I knew it was bad; it could only be bad. I heard male mumbling, then Jes’s voice. “You’re joking?” he said. It wasn’t the words, it was the tone that made me flinch. He came back in to the room. “Gerry’s daughter’s been abducted,” he said. “She …” I jumped up and went to check our children. They were there. We sat down. We got up again. Weirdly, I did the washing-up. We wondered what to do. Jes had asked if they needed help searching and was told there was nothing he could do; she had been missing for three hours. Jes felt he should go anyway, but I wanted him to stay with us. I was a coward, afraid to be alone with the children – and afraid to be alone with my thoughts.
I once worked as a producer in the BBC crime unit. I directed many reconstructions and spent my second pregnancy producing new investigations for Crimewatch. Detectives would call me daily, detailing their cases, and some stories stay with me still, such as the ones about a girl being snatched from her bath, or her bike, or her garden and then held in the passenger seat, or stuffed in the boot. There was always a vehicle, and the first few hours were crucial to the outcome. Afterwards, they would be dumped naked in an alley, or at a petrol station with a £10 note to “get a cab back to Mummy”. They would be found within an hour or two. Sometimes.
From the balcony we could see some figures scratching at the immense darkness with tiny torch lights. Police cars arrived and we thought that they would take control. We lay on the bed but we could not sleep.
The next morning, we made our way to breakfast and met one of the Doctors, the one who had come round in the night. His young daughter looked up at us from her pushchair. There was no news. They had called Sky television – they didn’t know what else to do. He turned away and I could see he was going to weep.
People were crying in the restaurant. Mark Warner had handed out letters informing them what had happened in the night, and we all wondered what to do. Mid-sentence, we would drift in to the middle distance. Tears would brim up and recede.
Our daughter asked us about the kiddie club that day. She had been looking forward to their dance show that afternoon. Jes and I looked at each other. My first instinct was that we should not be parted from our children. Of course we shouldn’t; we should strap them to us and not let them out of our sight, ever again. But then we thought: how are we going to explain this to our daughter? Or how, if we spent the day in the village, would we avoid repeatedly discussing what had happened in front of her as we met people on the streets? What does a good parent do? Keep the children close or take a deep breath and let them go a little, pretend this was the same as any other day?
We walked towards the kiddie club. No one else was there. We felt awful, such terrible parents for even considering the idea. Then we saw, waiting inside, some of the Mark Warner nannies. They had been up most of the night but had still turned up to work that day. They were intelligent, thoughtful young women and we liked and trusted them. The dance show was cancelled, but they wanted to put on a normal day for the children. Our daughter ran inside and started painting. Then, behind us, another set of parents arrived looking equally washed out. Then another, and another. We decided, in the end, to leave them for two hours. We put their bags on the pegs and saw the one labelled “Madeleine”. Heads bent, we walked away, into the guilty glare of the morning sun.
Locals and holidaymakers had started circulating photocopied pictures of Madeleine, while others continued searching the beaches and village apartments. People were talking about what had happened or sat silently, staring blankly. We didn’t see any police.
Later, there was a knock on our apartment door and we let the two men in. One was a uniformed Portuguese policeman, the other his translator. The translator had a squint and sweated slightly. He was breathless, perhaps a little excited. We later found out he was Robert Murat. He reminded me of a boy in my class at school who was bullied.
Through Murat we answered a few questions and gave our details, which the policeman wrote down on the back of a bit of paper. No notebook. Then he pointed to the photocopied picture of Madeleine on the table. “Is this your daughter?” he asked. “Er, no,” we said. “That’s the girl you are meant to be searching for.” My heart sank for the McCanns.
As the day drew on, the media and more police arrived and we watched from our balcony as reporters practised their pieces to camera outside the McCanns’ apartment. We then went back inside and watched them on the news.
We had to duck under the police tape with the pushchair to buy a pint of milk. We would roll past sniffer dogs, local police, then national police, local journalists, and then international journalists, TV reporters and satellite vans. A hundred pairs of eyes and a dozen cameras silently swivelled as we turned down the bend. We pretended, for the children’s sake, that this was nothing unusual. Later on, our daughter saw herself with Daddy on TV. That afternoon we sat by the members-only pool, watching the helicopters watching us. We didn’t know what else to do.
Saturday came, our last day. While we waited for the airport coach to pick us up, we gathered round the toddler pool by Tapas, making small talk in front of the children. I watched my baby son and daughter closely, shamefully grateful that I could.
We had not seen the McCanns since Thursday, when suddenly they appeared by the pool. The surreal limbo of the past two days suddenly snapped back into painful, awful realtime. It was a shock: the physical transformation of these two human beings was sickening – I felt it as a physical blow. Kate’s back and shoulders, her hands, her mouth had reshaped themselves in to the angular manifestation of a silent scream. I thought I might cry and turned so that she wouldn’t see. Gerry was upright, his lips now drawn into a thin, impenetrable line. Some people, including Jes, tried to offer comfort. Some gave them hugs. Some stared at their feet, words eluding them. We all wondered what to do. That was the last time we saw Gerry and Kate.
The rest of us left Praia da Luz together, an isolated Mark Warner group. The coach, the airport, the plane passed quietly. There were no other passengers except us. We arrived at Gatwick in the small hours of an early May morning. No jokes, no banter, just goodbye. Though we did not know it then, those few days in May were going to dominate the rest of our year.
“Did you have a good trip?” asked the cabbie at Gatwick, instantly underlining the conversational dilemma that would occupy the first few weeks: Do we say “Yes, thanks” and move swiftly on? Or divulge the “yes-but-no-but” truth of our “Maddy” experience? Everybody talks about holidays, they make good conversational currency at work, at the hairdresser’s, in the playground. Everybody asked about ours. I would pause and take a breath, deciding whether there was enough time for what was to follow. People were genuinely horrified by what had happened to Madeleine and even by what we had been through (though we thought ourselves fortunate). Their humanity was a balm and a comfort to us; we needed to talk about it, chew it over and share it out, to make it a little easier to swallow.
The British police came round shortly after our return. Jes was pleased to give them a statement. The Portuguese police had never asked.
As the summer months rolled by, we thought the story would slowly and sadly ebb away, but instead it flourished and multiplied, and it became almost impossible to talk about any-thing else. Friends came for dinner and we would actively try to steer the conversation on to a different subject, always to return to Madeleine. Others solicited our thoughts by text message after any major twist or turn in the case. Acquaintances discussed us in the context of Madeleine, calling in the middle of their debates to clarify details.
I found some immunity in a strange, guilty happiness. We had returned unscathed to our humdrum family routine, my life was wonderful, my world was safe, I was lucky, I was blessed. The colours in the park were acute and hyper-real and the sun warmed my face.
At the end of June, the first cloud appeared. A Portuguese journalist called Jes’s mobile (he had left his number with the Portuguese police). The journalist, who was writing for a magazine called Sol, called Jes incessantly. We both work in television and cannot claim to be green about the media, but this was a new experience. Jes learned this the hard way. Torn between politeness and wanting to get the journalist off the line without actually saying anything, he had to put the phone down, but he had already said too much. Her article pitched the recollections of “Jeremy Wilkins, television producer” against those of the “Tapas Nine”, the group of friends, including the McCanns, whom we had nicknamed the Doctors. The piece was published at the end of June. Throughout July, Sol’s testimony meant Jes became incorporated into all the Madeleine chronologies. More clouds began to gather – this time above our house.
In August, the doorbell rang. The man was from the Daily Mail. He asked if Jes was in (he wasn’t). After he left I spent an anxious evening analysing what I had said, weighing up the possible consequences. The Sol article had brought the Daily Mail; what would happen next? Two days later, the Mail came for Jes again. This time they had computer printout pictures of a bald, heavy-set man seen lurking in some Praia da Luz holiday snaps. The chatroom implication was that the man was Madeleine’s abductor. There was talk on the web, the reporter insinuated, that this man might be Jes. I laughed at the ridiculousness of it all and then realised he was serious. I looked at the pictures, and it wasn’t Jes.
Once, Jes’s father looked him up on the internet and found that “Jeremy Wilkins, television producer” was referenced on Google more than 70,000 times. There was talk that he was a “lookout” for Gerry and Kate; there was talk that Jes was orchestrating a reality-TV hoax and Madeleine’s disappearance was part of the con; there was talk that the Tapas Nine were all swingers. There was a lot of talk.
In early September, Kate and Gerry became official suspects. Their warm tide of support turned decidedly cool. Had they cruelly conned us all? The public needed to know, and who had seen Gerry at around 9pm on the fateful night? Jes.
Tonight with Trevor McDonald, GMTV, the Sun, the News of the World, the Sunday Mirror, the Daily Express, the Evening Standard and the Independent on Sunday began calling. Jes’s office stopped putting through calls from people asking to speak to “Jeremy” (only his grandmother calls him that). Some emails told him that he would be “better off” if he spoke to them or he would “regret it” if he didn’t, implying that it was in his interest to defend himself – they didn’t say what from.
Quietly, we began to worry that Jes might be next in line for some imagined blame or accusation. On a Saturday night in September, he received a call: we were on the front page of the News of the World. They had surreptitiously taken photographs of us, outside the house. There were no more details. We went to bed, but we could not sleep. “Maddie: the secret witness,” said the headline, “TV boss holds vital clue to the mystery.” Unfortunately, Jes does not hold any such vital clues. In November, he inched through the events of that May night with Leicestershire detectives, but he saw nothing suspicious, nothing that would further the investigation.
Throughout all this, I have always believed that Gerry and Kate McCann are innocent. When they were made suspects, when they were booed at, when one woman told me she was “glad” they had “done it” because it meant that her child was safe, I began to write this article – because I was there, and I believe that woman is wrong. There were no drug-fuelled “swingers” on our holiday; instead, there was a bunch of ordinary parents wearing Berghaus and worrying about sleep patterns. Secure in our banality, none of us imagined we were being watched. One group made a disastrous decision; Madeleine was vulnerable and was chosen. But in the face of such desperate audacity, it could have been any one of us.
And when I stroke my daughter’s hair, or feel her butterfly lips on my cheek, I do so in the knowledge of what might have been. But our experience is nothing, an irrelevance, next to the McCanns’ unimaginable grief. Their lives will always be touched by this darkness, while the true culprit may never be brought to light.
So my heart goes out to them, Gerry and Kate, the couple we remember from our Portuguese holiday. They had a beautiful daughter, Madeleine, who played and danced with ours at the kiddie club. That’s who we remember.
PJ Files: Jeremy Wilkins third statement (Rogatory) to British police, 08 April 2008
Testimony: Jeremy Wilkins Age if under 18 years: Occupation:
This statement, consisting of five pages, each signed by me, is true to the best of my knowledge and belief and I make it knowing that, if it is tendered in evidence, I shall be liable to prosecution if I have willfully states in it anything I know to be false or do not believe to be true.
Date: 8 April 2008 Signature:
I am the above referenced person and live at the address previously given to this police. I gave an earlier statement to the Metropolitan Police relative to my holidays in Portugal in May of 2007. I stayed at the Praia da Luz resort from where Madeleine McCann disappeared. We arrived on Saturday, April 28, 2007.
Yesterday, I received a visit from Leciestershire police officers with the intent of clarifying some aspects and to obtain any possible additional information. The conversation was recorded as was the interview which was conducted by the same agents. I was told that these questions originated from the rogatory letter sent by the Portuguese authorities. I am aware that my deposition is subject to the Portuguese Criminal Code in addition to British law.
I was asked to read my original statement to refresh my memory for which I was given authorisation.
What follows are answers to the questions posed to me in the following order:
Relative to the time I met Gerry McCann on the Thursday night of May 3, 2007;
As stated in my original deposition, I believe that I left the apartment around 20h30. I calculate that I met Gerry on the road between 20h45 and 21h15. I am aware of the importance of this hour and am also aware that the media announced our meeting time as 21h05. Even if this were correct, I have no idea from where such information originated. It is not possible to give you a more exact time.
From which direction Gerry travelling when you met;
From previous conversations had with Gerry, I am of the notion of the usual routine of the group in relation to checking on their children when they were in the Tapas Bar. I also was aware of the location of the McCann apartment. Naturally when I met him that night, I assumed that he had gone to check on the children. I cannot affirm if I saw him exactly leaving the apartment through the passageway, and if he was heading towards the tapas Bar.
Relative to the exact location you met Gerry;
I left my apartment pushing my son’s pram so that he could sleep. I did not have a particular direction to follow nor did I have a specific time to do this. I left the apartment and turned right. I walked via the lower street, looked to the building block where the McCann apartment was situated and saw a woman dressed in purple clothing. I referred to this woman in relation to the questions asked by Jane Tanner. At the next crossing, I turned right and continued on down the hill. At this point, I saw a man that was coming from the road and was headed to the reception. I believe that he was with a woman but I cannot be precise of any detail about her. It was a tall Caucasian man, with blonde hair in “rasta style” tied with a band instead of free flowing. When I arrived, I headed to the WC near the pool area. He also was in the WC but appeared to be a taking a long time. I do not remember if he was still in that place when I left. I did not see a woman in that zone. I had never before seen this man and did not see him after this. The next morning, after having become aware of Madeleine’s disappearance, we went to breakfast and left the children in the club. Bridget and I returned to the apartment and minutes afterward, a uniformed police officer, accompanied by a British man serving as interpreter, showed up. Later we came to know him as Robert Murat. I do not remember if he gave me his details but recently when I was cleaning a bag, I came across a card with his name and telephone number. I believe that he may have given this to me so that we could contact him in case we had any additional information to offer. The police officer asked us if we had noticed anything out of the normal and Robert Murat translated. I spoke to him of the “rasta man” and the police officer took some notes on paper. He also noted our names and passport numbers. During the days that followed, as we passed through the police cordon, we noticed Robert Murat on numerous occasions. On Friday, the 4th of May or Saturday, 5th of May 2007, at one of the police cordons, I again saw Robert Murat. He told me that they had investigated the lead of the “rasta man” but that he was a local man and that everything was okay. He thanked me for my collaboration. I never saw Robert prior to his visit to our apartment with the police officer.
After leaving the WC, I continued to walk around the back of the tennis court, and returned via the pathway opposite the pool in the Tapas complex. Whilst walking the streets, I was hoping my son would fall asleep. Some of the walkways did not have an exit and for this reason I walked practically in circles. When walking one of these paths, I came across a tourist called Curtis with his girlfriend whose name I do not know. He also knew Gerry from the tennis lessons. I remember passing by them but I assumed they were headed to dinner. Eventually, I left one road to the other side of the street to the pool complex, between the McCann apartment and the Tapas Bar. In order to visualise this street, I believe it was the street most used by the news agencies and journalists as all the parked cars indicated during the coverage period.
When I left the street, I remember seeing Gerry on the other side of the same. I believe that there was some speculation in the press regarding the circumstances of this encounter. I remember that I crossed the street to talk to Gerry. According to what I remember, Gerry was walking when I spotted him. As I mentioned previously, I assumed that he had gone to check on the children and was headed back to the Tapas Bar. From what I remember, the conversation happened right there on the pathway but I am not certain who was located exactly where.
Relative to the time we conversed;
I am more certain of this than I am of our relative positions.
The conversation lasted for approximately three to five minutes. We spoke of the care of children and how they were getting along. He told me something like “he was on night duty”. I explained to him that I was returning to the apartment as my son was now sleeping. I assumed that Gerry was off to dine with the group in the Tapas bar, but I cannot precisely say this came from him or if I figured this out from our previous conversations regarding the checking system for the children. I remember that Gerry told me if he had stayed another week, he would likely do as I was doing and would stay with the children one night. It appeared as though he was jealous of what I was doing, but given that he was with a big group, he felt the obligation to meet with them every night, and the chosen location was the Tapas bar. I believe that there was some sort of agreement with the tapas Bar as they appeared to have a reservation every night and it was impossible for other guests to book at spot there.
I do not know if we were face to face or side to side when this conversation occurred. As I had the pram with me I was rocking it so my son could sleep, it seems to me that I was in the downward direction, but it is possible that I was in the opposite direction.
I do not remember having seen anyone else at this time besides Gerry. After leaving each other, Gerry walked downward in the direction of the Tapas Bar and I began to walk in the other direction, up the pathway. I turned left at the crossing and passed the apartment. I did not meet anyone else during my walk and once in my apartment, I did not venture out again.
Relative to whether I know Jane Tanner;
Now I know her name, description of the clothes and photos which I have seen in the press. At that time I knew of her as a member of the group but did not know her name. I do not remember having seen her when I spoke with Gerry, but I believe I saw her when I first ventured out. She was stopped on the street in front of one of the group’s apartments when I passed her down towards the exit to my apartment. I do not know if it was her apartment or not. I remember that she was wearing the colour purple.
Relative to the passerby/transient;
I can affirm that it was a quiet street and it was very unlikely that someone could have passed by be in this way but this as an assumption and I do not remember anything having happened.
Relative to anything strange in Gerry’s behaviour;
I can affirm without any reservation that Gerry’s behaviour was absolutely normal. He was not preoccupied and conversed and appeared relaxed. He behaved in the same way as with the other times we met.
Relative to the visibility and lighting conditions;
I believe it was dusk at the time I left and night time when I returned, but I do not remember if it was already dark when I spoke with Gerry. There were no weather conditions that impacted visibility. Given the lighting and the atmospheric conditions, I believe that it would have been possible to see if an individual was near but, obviously, the greater the distance, the greater the difficulty in seeing. I would say that when I spoke with Gerry it was possible to recognise someone I knew who was passing on foot at the crossing at the top of the hill or to describe approximately someone unknown from that distance.
Relative to the return to Portugal to perform a reconstruction;
I spoke with the police for a long time regarding this topic. I had some reservation about the press’ intrusion into my personal life and the hurt that resulted. I actually think that I would prefer not to take part. I have helped the investigation and am particularly interested in the investigative team gave me a solid base with would justify the reconstruction.
I was also asked question raised by the arguidos, to which I responded as follows.
Relative to my familiarity with Gerry and Kate;
I got to know them on Monday, 30th of April 2007 when I arrived at the tennis lesson. I had booked lessons and believed that Gerry had done the same. I believe that Kate was with Gerry before the first lesson but did not play.
Relative to the encounters between the 29th of April and the 3rd of May;
I played against Gerry in the tennis lessons and we played a game outside the lessons together with two friends who made up part of his group. Kate was in the immediate area of the resort but the reason for our meetings was normally tennis. We got along well together.
Relative to seeing them with Madeleine and the other children;
I do not have grand memories of Madeleine but did see her on some occasions with her parents in the crèche. My last memory of the twins, specifically, was in the company of adults (I think they were friends that travelled here) in the pool zone and also on the day that we left, Saturday 5th of May, 2007.
I never saw any member of the family inside or possessing a vehicle.
Relative to the encounter with Gerry and Kate on the 3rd of May 2007;
I had a tennis lesson with Gerry from 10h00 to 11h00. After the lesson we went to fetch the children from the crèche. I saw Gerry and Kate near the pool relaxing. I remember that they were talking to a British tennis instructor whose name is George or Georgina. I remember that she was telling them a bit about her personal life. Later that day, I went once again to collect the children from the crèche and believe I saw them there, but I cannot affirm with exactitude if it was that day or if had been on a previous day. We did not see each other again on this day.
Relative to when I became aware of Madeleine’s disappearance;
After having gone to sleep on the 3rd of May, we were woken around 01H30 by the manager of the resort, John Hill and by a friend of Gerry’s. It was them who told me what had happened. I did not see or hear anything else than what has been stated in this statement. I did not take part in any searches. I offered my help but it was not necessary. I did not see Gerry and Kate again until the afternoon of our departure. They were in the tourist complex. This was on Saturday, 5th of May 2007. If was a very emotional encounter and I did not know what to say to them. I went over to Gerry and gave him a pat on the shoulder and spoke briefly with Kate. Together they appeared constrained and I became emotional as well.
Relative to the meeting with Gerry McCann;
I have already testified to the time of our encounter in this statement and have also spoken to the location where we met, when I saw him for the first time, what I observed regarding the details of our conversation. The same applies to Jane Tanner.
Relative to the sighting in Dr. Francisco Gentil street;
From the location where we met for our conversation, it is possible to see the top of the hill. I cannot confirm if I was always turned in this direction. It is definitely possible that someone could have crossed holding a child without my noticing.
I do not remember any other information or relevant details which could help this investigation.
Exclusive: Who was the woman outside Maddie’s flat?, 10 May 2009
By James Murray Sunday May 10, 2009 A WOMAN was seen acting suspiciously outside Kate and Gerry McCann’s apartment just an hour before their daughter Madeleine was abducted.
The slim, Portuguese-looking woman in a plum-coloured top and white skirt with long, dark, swept-back hair acted furtively when she was spotted at 8pm on May 3 in 2007 near the Mark Warner Ocean Club complex.
She was standing under a streetlight at a crossroads only 40 feet from where Madeleine was sleeping with her brother Sean and his twin sister Amelie.
Investigators are being urged to find her to see if she was in any way connected to a pockmarked prowler seen several times outside the apartment in the day leading up to the kidnap.
Details of the mystery woman have only just become known after a Sunday Express investigation into the baffling case was alerted by an elderly British woman who has lived in Praia da Luz on Portugal’s Algarve for more than 30 years.
Speaking from her villa near the Ocean Club, the woman, who has asked not to be named, recalled: “On that night I went to the supermarket at the bottom of the road just before it closed at 8pm.
“As I drove past the entrance to the Ocean Club I saw a woman standing opposite Apartment 5A the McCanns were staying in.
“Even at that time of night the streets were deserted, so I was surprised to see someone there. I remember thinking it was unusual because it is just not the sort of place you would hang around.
“As I drove up to the junction she stepped around to the other side of the street lamp as though she didn’t want me to look at her. She was not carrying a bag or a mobile phone. I thought she might have been waiting for a lift but no car came along while I was there.
“I turned right and could see quite clearly she was looking at Apartment 5A.
“As I approached another junction a small, brown car, with just one English-looking man in it swung round and nearly hit mine.”
When she heard that Madeleine had vanished she asked a relative to inform the police about her sightings.
More than 30 people have so far phoned in about the artist’s impression shown on a Channel 4 documentary last Thursday of a scar-faced man seen loitering outside the McCanns’ apartment.
From Jeremy Wilkins statement: Q. Relative to whether I know Jane Tanner; Jeremy Wilkins: ‘Now I know her name, description of the clothes and photos which I have seen in the press. At that time I knew of her as a member of the group but did not know her name. I do not remember having seen her when I spoke with Gerry, but I believe I saw her when I first ventured out. She was stopped on the street in front of one of the group’s apartments when I passed her down towards the exit to my apartment. I do not know if it was her apartment or not. I remember that she was wearing the colour purple.’
Jane Tanner in her purple/plum coloured top
Note: Wilkins states that he set out with his child between 8.15pm and 8.30pm.
Inspector Minahan Makes a Stand: The Missing Girls of England, 18 September 2012
Inspector Minahan Makes a Stand: The Missing Girls of England Amazon
In Victorian London, the age of consent was just thirteen. Unwitting girls were regularly enticed, tricked and sold into prostitution. If not marked out for a gentleman in a city brothel, they were legally trafficked to Brussels, Paris and beyond. All the while, the Establishment turned a blind eye. That is, until one policeman wrote an incendiary report. Disgraced for testifying against a violent colleague, Irish inspector Jeremiah Minahan was transferred to the backwater of Chelsea as punishment. Here he met Mary Jeffries, a notorious trafficker and procuress who counted Cabinet members and royalty among her clientele. Within days of reporting Jeffries, Minahan was unceremoniously forced out of the Metropolitan Police. So he turned private detective, setting out to expose the peers and politicians more interested in shielding their own positions (and peccadilloes) than London’s child prostitutes. The findings Minahan did reveal in 1885 sparked national outrage: riots, arrests, a tabloid war and a sensational trial . . . other secrets were so fearful he took them to his grave, where they remained – until now. This is the true tale of a man caught between a corrupt English Establishment and his own rebel heart: a very Victorian scandal, but also, a story for our times.
About the Author
Bridget O’Donnell is a former BBC producer. She lives in London. This is her first book.