The “vestiges of a simulation”
Watch that bazooka!
Goncalo Amaral who, according to reports from his various enemies was recently trying desperately to extricate himself from the deadly consequences of his libels on the McCanns, has been seen showing his head above the parapet once more. And, surprise, surprise, not beneath a tattered white flag but, on the contrary, with something looking suspiciously like a rocket propelled missile launcher on his shoulder.
In two interviews he has put his personal troubles aside and emphatically repeated, with additions, the charges of the utmost gravity against Kate & Gerry McCann he originally made in his book and television documentary on the case. Not quite the behaviour of a broken man suing for peace is it?
Also, and refreshingly, he cut through nearly five years junk reporting by the media and outright lying by the McCanns and went straight back to the essence of the case – the “impossibility” of the parents’ version of events on the night of May 3. “Undeniably,” he said in one of the interviews, “this window, [the children’s bedroom window] as I have said before, is a window ‘facing the world’.”
Not only was the window open to the world’s view on May 3, with no place to hide for potential evil doers, but in another sense it is also the window through which one can enter this mysterious case. And probably exit it too, for as GA added, “it is where the solution of the case lies.”
Five years well-funded adventurism by the couple, the crazed chiaroscuro of SAS men, paedophile rings, private jets, the Vatican, Metodo, the committee rooms of the House of Commons, moustachioed fugitives, moored yachts with waiting baby-buyers, lost wallets, dying suspects and the rest, all created by that artist of futile melodrama Gerry McCann, have failed to serve their purpose: do anything possible to muffle or drown the message of the window facing the world until it can be written off as “old news”...
GA’s case has always been, forget the mysteries, the possibilities so beautifully dreamed up by the McCanns, forget, at least by implication, the everlasting world-wide search for a living child—a brutal but necessary decision—and concentrate on a trail: “vestiges”, says Amaral, “of a simulation”. The investigation of the case then consists in following the evidence of this simulation through to the end. Was he right? Or should he have been busy “closing the borders” and pursuing the paedos as all those failed policemen-consultants told us—until News International stopped paying them.
For our purposes there is no need to list contradictions by the dozen until the head spins. Let us enter that open window, look briefly at some of those “vestiges” and the the outlines of an investigation immediately become clear—for those initial “vestiges” lead on to new problems and then to new “vestiges”, as the witnesses alter and develop their stories to plug the new holes. We can see it in action – and as the Bureau once asked, to a certain amount of bemusement, why bother with mysteries when we can concentrate on the “knowns”?
The definitive conferral evidence
At its heart lies an apparently trivial, but in the event absolutely intractable, problem. A period of just five to ten minutes means the difference between a possible abduction and an impossible one; some members of the Nine realised this by May 5 yet the attempts to master it, beginning with the construction of the third “timeline”, not only failed completely but ended up providing the trail.
At their first conferral over the day’s events, between 10.30 PM and 1 AM on the night of the 3/4 May, documentary evidence (the sticker-book entries) proves that the participants,Gerry McCann, Russell O’ Brien, David Payne and Mathew Oldfield, all agreed, in writing and in two separate documents, that there was a gap of between five and ten minutes between the return of Oldfield from his “shutter check” and the departure of Gerry McCann for his “check”. The walking time between restaurant and apartments is some 90 seconds to the front of the apartments, 65 seconds to 5A patio doors.
Timeline A relevant entries
Matt returns 9.00-9.05 - listened at all 3
- all shutters down
Jerry 9.10-9.15 in the room + all well
? did he check
9.20/5 - Ella Jane checked 5D sees stranger & child
Timeline B relevant entries
8.45pm. all assembled at poolside for food
9.00pm. Matt Oldfield listens at all 3 windows 5A, B, D ALL shutters down
9:15pm Gerry McCann looks at room A ? Door open to bedroom
9:20pm Jane Tanner checks 5D - [sees stranger walking carrying a child]
Such agreement and documentation cannot be “reversed” since it is definitive – the participants were all present and jointly created the document and no relevant information sources that could change their conclusions were absent during the conferral.
The police statements
The conferee’s May 4 statements, made before they had any chance for further discussion, are instructive. Gerry McCann: “at 9.05 pm, the deponent entered the club, [Ocean Club apartment] using his key, the door being locked, and went to the children's bedroom and noted that the twins and Madeleine were in perfect condition.” [Assim, sendo palas 21.05 o declarente veio ao clube,entrou no quarto munidoda chave respectica, estando a porta transcada.] But there was no mention of Oldfield and his return to the restaurant.
And Payne made no mention of Gerry’s first check at all. “He no longer remembers in what order they went see their children.”
O’ Brien was no support. “He recalls that Matthew Oldfield left the restaurant at shortly after 21h00 to check the children. He is no longer sure who went out first, but five minutes later [our italics]Gerry McCann and his own partner, Jane, went out, almost at the same time, [ours again]to check the children.”
But Oldfield’s statement was the best: “That around 21h05, the interviewee went to the area of the apartments, notably to the area near the windows of all the children's bedrooms. That he did not hear any noise.”
So when Gerry McCann approached his front door with a key he would have found Mathew Oldfield bent over listening to the shutters...
Put shortly: the twin parameters of time/distance analysis results and the presence of the independent witness Wilkins determine fixed intervals that cannot be manipulated: the abduction, whatever form it takes, key or no key, abductor or abductors, has to occur after a certain time (the time Oldfield left the shutters) and be completed before a certain time (Tanner’s sighting). That being so a gap between Oldfield’s return and McCann’s departure from the restaurant of more than a few seconds, combined with McCann’s entry to the apartment via the locked front door, cannot be fitted in. It is impossible.
It was not just the police who began noting this impossibility. In his second statement on May 10 Gerry McCann decided to tell the police about others’ actions as well as his own. “At 21H05, Mathew returned, the time at which the deponent left the table to go check on his children.” Mathew has been pulled away from the shutters he stated he was listening to at 9.05, been teleported through the darkening streets without being asked and the interval is down to zero.
So Gerry now knew to the second when he had left – 9.04. He wasn’t asked how he could be so exact before his arguido statement in September. That was when he told the police he had looked at his never-before-mentioned watch! Of course this completely contradicted the sticker book evidence which he had helped prepare and the chief feature of which was the inability to time that same departure exactly by any of those present. Including Dr McCann. Anyway it was incorporated (as 9.05) in David Payne’s helpful exercise in clarifying new timelines.
Finally McCann bites another bullet – there was no alternative because of the timescale and the possibility of further theoretical “collisions” like that between himself and Oldfield outside the apartment door – and completely changes his description of how he entered the apartment.
Now you cannot “unremember” an event. And it is well known that for information analysis purposes the first statement is always the most reliable in describing actions, rather than emotions or states of mind. Gerry McCann had told the police flatly that he went into the apartment by opening the locked front door with a key and had then signed and attested the truth of his statement having had it read back to him in English.
The only entrance requiring a key is the front door one off the car park, for the patio doors do not have a lock but are bolted from inside. But now he claimed, without comment or explanation and in breach of his previous attestation of the truth, “He walked the normal route up to the back door, which being open he only had to slide.” [Efectuou o trajecto normal ate a porta das traseiras, a qual estando alberta somente teve de a deslocar send que.] Then, in an easy procedure for Gerry McCann he signed for and attested to the truth of this statement, having had it read back to him in English.
Step back – that’s it!
The history of the rest of the case consists not of moustachioed Monster sightings nor, regrettably, the search for a living child, but of the doomed attempts to remove these wicked little problems and polish the “authorised version”, each of which, of course, leaves an audit trail. Much of the work was done in late 2007 when Gerry’s lawyers so helpfully pointed out the weaknesses which jumped out to the legal, or prosecutorial, mind and invited him to reconsider his evidence yet again – before testing out the new versions in the media via Clarence Mitchell to see if they floated.
That led to the farcical Medical McCann Memory Total Recall Syndrome when Gerry discovered that he was now “sure” there was a Hiding Monster listening to him pee from some secret refuge in 5A. Mitchell’s will-it-float feed of this epiphany sent poor old Carlos Anjos into something resembling an apoplexy but there was no need to worry: Gerry McCann and his bad-breathed paid mouthpiece had added another bit to the trail that began at 10.30 in Praia da Luz. It’s all still there, Clarence.
The work still proceeds: many of the proposed “solutions” to the ten minute problem can be heard softly, like an almost hidden background theme, in Madeleine. Clearly, as at least one other commentator has noted, she feels they may yet be needed
The full extent of Tapas 7 collaboration with the pair is vexed. Note, for example, that even after the Rothley meeting David Payne’s recollections of 6.30 - 7PM on May 3 were still very much out of line with Kate and Gerry’s, which implies an absence of late group collusion. But when the memories of two of the core group who conferred over the sticker-book have evolved so usefully for the couple, then at the very least a passive willingness to fall in with Gerry McCann’s untrue assertions without necessarily being privy to exactly why they were needed is quite indisputable.
Oldfield, for example, who was ignorant of the exact time of Gerry’s departure at the sticker-book conference, has made neurological history alongside Gerry McCann by the constant improvement of his memory, so that in April 2008 he could say, “So, erm, back to the table, erm, we have, oh, back to the table, Gerry got up to go and, to go and check on his kids, I mean, and I’d come back and said, you know, I didn’t hear any noise when I listened outside your room, so I thought it was a little bit odd that, you know, not kind of a wounded pride that he sort of didn’t trust me, but..”
My, my. While O’ Brien has made similar history in the reverse direction – Selective Short Term Memory Loss Trauma Syndrome: “Erm,” he muttered in that same week, a week in which his recall was generally quite magnificent, “Erm as we discussed the other day, I’d forgotten these over the year.” “These” were no doubt eminently forgettable to Dr. Russell O’ Brien, who had far more important things on his mind than those little sticker book covers, overwhelmingly sad and desecrated remnants of a child’s life, torn out thoughtlessly in a gesture that remains the abiding symbol of the Madeleine McCann Affair.
There is only one reason why the Tapas 7 question is “vexed”: it has still, after five years, never been fully investigated. Investigated, that is, in the sense of the attempted reconstruction of claimed events and the clinical confrontation of the McCanns and the core group with their different and developing stories. A withdrawal and substitution of evidence, such as Gerry McCann’s two statements about his entry to the apartment, is itself evidence for the prosecution.
The vestiges of a simulation
That is why Amaral, whatever his merits and faults, was and remains rightly furious at the eventual failure of the investigation to look through “the window facing the world” at these vestiges of a simulation and, indeed, its lame surrender when confronted with the Seven’s outrageous refusal to return to Portugal. Instead the investigation dropped the shutters on the window, turned away and succumbed to the childish mass delusion of the “world-wide search for sweet missing Maddie”– until it ran into the sands, as illusions, helped on by the cowardly evasions of creatures like Menezes, always will.
F J Leghorn
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