Saturday, 11 December 2010

Martin Smith – Amaral’s Trump Card? Or Joker in the Pack?



 We come back to this from the El Mundo interview:

This is what we were investigating when I was dismissed from the case. I want to recall that there is an Irish man who claimed to have seen Gerry McCann with a girl in his arms, on his way towards the beach that same night. That testimony has been hidden. The dogs specialised in finding traces of blood and odour of cadaver, found both on the wall of the apartment and in the boot of the car that the McCanns rented 23 days later.

The testimony wasn't hidden and is in the files. That and the other testimonies bear close scrutiny.  On the night of May 3rd, remembered with some precision as at around 2200 because certain members of their large party had to catch an early flight back to Ireland the following morning, as they were returning to their apartments, they spotted a man, carrying a child described as wearing light coloured  (Mr Smith), or pink (his daughter Aoife) pyjamas.  The three agreed, with varying degrees of conviction, that the child could have been Madeleine.

After the party's return to Ireland, when news of Madeleine’s disappearance had broken, the Smiths recalled that sighting and three of their party, Mr Smith, Aoife his daughter and Mr Smith's son, Peter, returned to Portugal to give statements to the Portuguese police.

A key point to note, here, is that at the point of their return, Robert Murat , a personal friend of Mr Smith’s, had already been declared an arguido, and Mr Smith was very keen to exonerate Murat.  But at this stage, no one (including Mr Smith) identified the man they saw as Gerry.  Mr Smith noted the unusual negative about the man (not disputed by the other two, but neither commented on) that he was not wearing glasses.  Robert Murat is blind in one eye and does wear glasses.  Mr Smith otherwise states explicitly that the man was not Robert Murat.

An important detail from Mr Smith’s testimony is this: 

He adds that he did not hold the child in a comfortable position, suggesting [the carrying] not being habitual.

It was nearly 4 months later, after Kate and Gerry had been made arguidos, that Martin Smith would have his apparent Damascus moment of wondering whether the man he saw conceivably could have been Gerry.  Here are the details of a statement he made to the Irish Gardia police:

Detective Branch
Drogheda
County Lough

Re – Investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann

I took an additional statement from Mr Smith as requested. His wife does not want to make another statement. I showed him the video clip and he stated that it was not the clip that alerted him but the BBC news at 10 PM on 9th September 2007.

He has been contacted by numerous tabloid press looking for stories. He has been contacted by Mr Brian Kennedy who is supporting the McCann family to take part in a photo fit exercise. He has given no stories or helped in any photo fits. He sent a solicitor's letter to six papers in relation material that was printed that was misquoted. The Evening Herald paid his solicitor's fees and all papers printed an apology. His photograph appeared in another tabloid paper and this matter is being pursued at the moment.

I do not believe that Martin Smith is courting the press and my view his is a genuine person. He is known locally and is a very decent person.

Forwarded please

Sergeant

Liam Hogan

I hereby declare that this statement is true to the best of my knowledge and belief and that I make it knowing that if it is tendered in evidence I will be liable to prosecution if i state in it anything which I know to be false or do not believe to be true.

I would like to state that the statement I made on 26th May 2007 in Portugal is correct. The description of the individual that I saw on 3rd May 2007 carrying a child is as follows. He was average build, 5 foot 10' in height, brown hair cut short, aged 40 years approximately. Wearing beige trousers and darkish top maybe a jacket or blazer. He had a full head of hair with a tight cut. This individual was alone. I saw Gerard McCann (sic) going down the plane stairs carrying one of his children on 9th September 2007 BBC news at 10 PM, I have been shown the video clip by Sergeant Hogan which I recognise. A clip I have seen before on the Internet. In relation to the video clips of Gerard McCann and the person I saw on 3rd May 2007 when I saw the BBC news at 10 PM on 9th September 2007 something struck me that it could have been the same person. It was the way Gerard McCann turned his head down which was similar to what the individual did on 3rd May 2007 when we met him. It may have been the way he was carrying the child either. I would be 60-80% sure that it was Gerard McCann that I met that night carrying a child. I am basing that on his mannerism in the way he carried the child off the plane. After seeing the BBC news at 10 PM, footage on the 9th September 2007 I contacted Leicestershire police with this information. During that time I spoke to all my family members who were with me on the night of 3rd May 2007 about this and the only one who felt the same way as me was my wife. She had seen the video clip of Gerard McCann walking down the stairs of the plane earlier that day. We did not discuss this until some days later. This statement has been read over to me and is correct.


There are two things to note, here.  The first is that, whatever that something was that made Mr Smith think the man he saw in Praia da Luz was Gerry, it presumably included the detail  that Mr Smith didn’t think Gerry was carrying his son off the aeroplane in a particularly natural or familiar way, just as he observed about the man he saw carrying the girl in Praia da Luz in the statement he gave to the Portuguese police.

The second is that, while Mr Smith's wife also felt the man might have been Gerry (but declined to make a statement) his children did not share their father's conviction. 

In the final PJ report, written just before the case was archived, Joao Carlos says this:

Further on this issue, the testimony of MARTIN SMITH was considered, pages 1606 and following, reporting the sighting of an individual carrying a child, in one of the streets that lead to the beach. It was said that the child could be MADELEINE McCANN, although it was never peremptorily stated. Some time later, the witness alleged that, by its stance, the individual who carried the child could be GERALD McCANN, which was concluded when he saw him descending the stairs from an airplane, pages 2871, 3991 and following and 4135 and following. It was established that at the time that was being mentioned, GERALD McCANN was sitting at the table, in the Tapas Restaurant.

Carlos does not expand on the reasons for that finding in his report, but enough is known for us to infer with reasonable certainty.

Let us, for a moment, indulge the notion that the Smiths saw Gerry.  By Amaral’s thesis, Kate and Gerry were both complicit and acting jointly to conceal a ghastly accident and the ‘evidence’ (the body of their daughter).  As already noted, the time of the Smith sighting was 2200, almost exactly the same time as Kate’s alert at the Tapas restaurant.  Kate would have been insane to raise the alarm before Gerry had even got down to the beach.  Further, if Gerry was absent at the time of Kate’s alarm, an urgent and top priority would have been to track Gerry down and tell him what had happened.  That activity, including where Gerry was when found and who found him, would be extensively documented in the witness statements of key witnesses.  Simply, such commentary is non-existent.

And there is also at least one witness who gives a positive identification of Gerry in the vicinity of the Tapas restaurant at a time that (if accurate) would, indeed, rule out Gerry as the man the Smiths saw – Jeronimo Salcedas.  He was the subject of a rogatory interview.  The purpose of rogatory interviews was to clarify discrepancies or establish important points, so his testimony must have been regarded as significant.  It is worth noting that the times he gave in his statement to Portuguese police differed from the time given in his statement to Leicestershire police; also that UK police take verbatim statements while the Portuguese police summarise statements in reported speech.  Also, the Leicestershire police will have had a copy of Mr Salcedas’ statement to the Portuguese police.

Here is the relevant part of Mr Salcedas’ statement to Leicestershire police:

On the night Madeleine disappeared, everything appeared normal. I remember that when I took notice of the disappearance, I had been in the restaurant speaking with my two colleagues?Ze and Ricardo who were on break. I returned to the restaurant and noticed that the table of nine was empty with the exception of the older woman. I went over to the table and joked with her: ?They've left you alone?? She responded more of less with these words: ?No, they went to see if the little girl was there.? I responded that I hoped they would find her somewhere in the apartment. At saying this, I saw the man. Who I knew later to be Madeleines father, running to the pool and to the childrens play area in the Tapas zone as if looking for someone. It immediately hit me that after talking to the older woman, that the little girl had not been found. I offered to alert the workers at the Milenium Restaurant and the man agreed. He then left again running to continue searching. I believe that this was between 21H30 and 22H00 but do not remember with certainty. 

The time recorded in Mr Salcedas’ statement to Portuguese police is about an hour later.  But still, as I point out above, no discrepancy in time was noted by the interviewing officer.

These are probably the pointers that led the PJ to conclude that, at the time of the Smith sighting, Gerry was in the restaurant.
   
By Honestbroker.