Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'The Worst Preserved Crime Scene I Have Ever Seen'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'The Worst Preserved Crime Scene I Have Ever Seen'

Article excerpt

FROM the moment I arrived in Praia da Luz, it was clear this was a crime scene unlike any I had seen before.

A single Portuguese policeman stood 30 yards away from the apartment from which Madeleine McCann had been abducted. He seemed more interested in smoking his cigarette than maintaining the police cordon.

It was barely 48 hours after Madeleine's father Gerry sounded the alarm, yet there was little sign of any police activity. Local residents, journalists and tourists crossed the cordon at will, leaving forensic teams no hope of picking up vital clues at a later stage.

It was, without doubt, the worst preserved crime scene I have ever seen. In all, I spent a week in Praia da Luz as an analyst employed by broadcasters because of my years of experience as a detective with Surrey Police's paedophile unit. I became convinced that the Portuguese police had made fundamental errors in the crucial early stages of the investigation.

Nothing I have seen since then has changed this impression. Over the past weeks, I have spoken to many senior detectives in the UK who have told me of their frustration at the way the investigation has been handled.

Portuguese police failed to do the basics - and until this failure is addressed the investigation is severely hampered. Tragically, statistics tell us it may already be too late for Madeleine.

In Britain, a major crime scene like this would have been cordoned off.

The cordon would have extended far beyond the immediate area of the crime, to give forensic scientists the best possible chance of picking up any evidence.

Detectives would have swamped the area, knocking on every door, searching every property and questioning every witness, not just on the day the four-year-old disappeared but in the following days too.

Teams of search officers would have flooded the streets around the McCanns' apartment, hunting for the slightest clue. A cigarette butt discarded by Madeleine's abductor, for example, could contain DNA evidence. …

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