Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Eddie the Infallible?

It is widely put about, certainly in on-line circles, that in all the cases Eddie has ever been involved in, he has never made a mistake or given a false reading. I confess that I thought Amaral had repeated that claim in his book, but having looked for the reference in what I thought were the relevant chapters, I can’t now find it. One thing is for sure. The Dog’s handler, Martin Grime, has never claimed that, but has said something rather different which has been corrupted by others to ‘Eddie has never been wrong’. In fact, what Grime said was that in over 200 missions, Eddie has never once alerted to ‘road kill’ (ie the cadaver scent of a dead, wild, animal) and never once alerted to any meat product. Particularly given that Eddie was trained, in part, on swine cadaver scent and that Grime also says Eddie can’t tell the difference between it and human cadaver scent, the second point is, perhaps, a surprise. But we’ll let that go.

Other points made by Grime about Eddie don’t seem to reconcile themselves easily or readily. In part of an answer to a question put to him during his rogatory interview, Grime said this, about both dogs, Keela and Eddie:
They only give an alert when they are 'positive' that the target of the odour is present and immediately accessible. If they had any doubts they would not give an alert. EVRD [Eddie] gives an alert by means of a vocal bark.

The search of the clothing was actually carried out twice. From the first search, in the villa the McCanns rented after vacating apartment 5a this, remarkable, comment was made:
Following the search effected at Rua das Flores, 27, during which certain items were seized, this present inspection was performed, in a place appropriated for its purpose, attempting to identify particular pieces of clothing possibly indicated by the dogs, namely Eddy [that] indicates cadaver odours and kela [that] indicates blood odours.

Possibly indicated? Grime has already told us that Eddie is always certain. Either he indicates or he doesn’t. Amaral says in his book that the villa was not regarded as clean enough for the search that was conducted in the villa. Yet, in Grime’s profile of cases where Eddie was successfully deployed is one of one Attracta Harron, where Eddie detected a death scent from the burnt-out wreckage of a vehicle:


A missing person, last seen returning from church, on foot, in N. Ireland.
A missing person search did not reveal her whereabouts.
The search of a suspect's 'totally burnt out vehicle' by forensic scientists did not reveal any evidence.
A 'one minute' search by the EVRD identified a position in the rear passenger footwell where the dog alerted to the presence of human material.

A sample was taken and when analysed revealed the victim's DNA.
The enquiry then concentrated its efforts on the suspect and the EVRD located the body of the woman in a river bank deposition site.

Indeed, Grime also says that in training, Eddie once identified a segment of pig meat that had been doused in petrol, then incinerated.

Yet, in Rua da Flores, Eddie, apparently, gave ambiguous signals that needed to be re-tested. When everything was taken up, transferred to a ‘municipal pavillion’ (gymnasium?) and laid out for Eddie to inspect afresh, he certainly barked. But the indication that he signalled specific items of clothing (two of Kate’s and one item of either of the twin’s) was not his trained reaction of a bark, but his untrained reaction of picking these items up in his mouth. That was not merely untrained, but also deleterious in that the job of a forensic team attending a crime scene is to identify items of potential forensic interest and pass them on to the forensic laboratories in a state as closely preserved as possible to the state they were in when first found. That that imperative was taken no less seriously at Praia da Luz, even though the search was 3 months after Madeleine disappeared, can be in no doubt. The procedure of lifting fixtures and fittings from apartment 5a was filmed so that the scientists at the FSS in Birmingham could have confidence that best practice was followed.

Of course, the one positive alert Eddie gave in the villa was, apparently (and recorded as definite), to the ‘cuddlecat’ toy. But here, too, there is ambiguity. As clearly seen on film, on his first encounter with the toy, he sniffed it, picked it up, played with it, did everything except bark. Then the toy was hidden in a cupboard and the dog barked. He was officially recorded as having reacted to the scent of the toy hidden in the cupboard. But why could he not detect that scent of which he is, apparently, so certain on his initial encounter with the toy?

The final mystery is why things Eddie was officially recorded as having detected were never sent to the forensic laboratory for testing. We know, about Cuddle Cat, that Grime recommended it be forwarded – and was clearly under the impression that it had been, because he said that he was not aware of any the results of any forensic tests on the toy. Yet close scrutiny of John Lowe’s report reveals no reference to any of these items Eddie, apparently, reacted to.

Why not?

This question, put to Martin Grime during his rogatory interview, is, perhaps indicative of Rebelo’s assessment of the dogs’ performance in PdL

"Can you confirm if the signal given regarding the stuffed toy corresponds to a concrete alert of detection of a cadaver, or a mere trick played by the dog''

[Grime]The dogs were not taught any 'tricks'. EVRD 'signalled' the toy, which at my request was retained by the Judicial Police for future forensic analysis. I have no knowledge of the results of any forensic analysis on the toy.

Grime also refers to the phenomenon of ‘cross-contamination’, whereby items with a scent will transfer that scent to other items they are in close contact with. All the items of clothing Eddie reacted to came from the same container, yet he only picked up 3.

Another fallacy worth laying to rest, one advanced in Amaral’s book, is that where Keela (who detects blood) and Eddie react together, the presence of a cadaver is signalled. Since both dogs react to the scent of human blood, competing explanations of blood or cadaver scent are offered where reactions coincide.

The reactions of the dogs is pretty much all those who insist Madeleine is dead and the McCanns know it have. It is paper thin.

By Honestbroker.