Madeleine McCann has not been seen since she went missing in 2007. Picture: AFP
Madeleine McCann has not been seen since she went missing in 2007. Picture: AFP

Family slams ‘ridiculous’ Maddie claims

Madeleine McCann's parents are convinced their daughter was kidnapped and have dismissed "insulting" claims she could have woken up and wandered out of their holiday apartment.

British detectives leading the investigation into Maddie's disappearance are re-examining a theory she left her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, to look for her parents, reports The Sun.

But Gerry and Kate McCann have branded the theory "ridiculous" as heavy shutters found open in the bedroom where their children were sleeping would have to have been opened by Maddie.

A family source reportedly told The Sun: "Kate and Gerry have always maintained that their daughter was abducted and simply didn't get up and wander off to her fate.

"To suggest this is almost ridiculous.

"There were heavy shutters which would have been impossible for a small child to open."

They spoke out after a source told The Sun that police are pursuing two vital new leads over the 2007 mystery.

The source, in Portugal, told the newspaper: "A meeting took place recently at the HQ of the General Attorney's Office, which was attended by the prosecutor from Portimao who is in charge of the Portuguese inquiry.

"One of the lines of investigation that continues to be pursued is that Maddie could have walked out of the holiday flat herself."

Kate McCann has previously disputed in detail the possibility Maddie was taken after wandering off or suffered a fatal accident - a theory first probed by the Portuguese police.

In her harrowing 2011 book about her daughter's disappearance, she stated: "I have always found the third suggestion insulting to our intelligence.

"Obviously, the police are obliged to consider all possible scenarios but there was no doubt in our minds that Madeleine had not left the apartment on her own accord.

"There was no way a three-year-old would have been able to raise the shutters and open the window in the children's room.

"To give any credence whatsoever to that idea that Madeleine could have walked out on her own you would have to accept that she had gone out the back way, pulling aside the sitting room curtains and drawing them again, then opening the patio doors, the child safety gate at the top of the stairs on the veranda and the little gate to the road - and carefully closing all three behind her.

"What three-year-old do you know who would do that? And we knew our Madeleine. She simply would not wander off like this.

"The theory was not only insulting it was, much more importantly, frighteningly damaging to the chances of finding Madeleine quickly."

The former doctor also spoke about the shutters in a TV interview with American chat show queen Oprah Winfrey to mark the second anniversary of Maddie's disappearance in May 2007.

She said: "That was when I knew that someone had taken her. It was obvious, because a child could not open those shutters."

Portuguese police in the initial bungled inquiry, headed by Goncalo Amaral - who the McCanns are still locked in a long-running libel battle with - speculated the youngster could have walked off down the hill and fallen into a big roadworks pit where she died.

Another theory was that she was knocked unconscious and her body was not discovered when the hole was filled over the following day.

Operation Grange has previously said they believe Maddie was snatched or taken during a burglary gone wrong.

The family source said: "Whatever the Met Police are doing, which the public is not privy to, is as much as to rule scenarios and suspects out as to rule them in."

The McCanns hold onto a glimmer of hope that Maddie - who would now be aged 15 - could still be alive.

They have been told that police are confident of getting "a result".

The inquiry, which has cost British taxpayers $A20 million so far, has been granted an extra $A265,000 to keep it going until next year.

Family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "Kate and Gerry are very encouraged that the Met police still believe there is work left to be done in the search for their daughter and they remain incredibly grateful to the Home Office for providing an extra budget for the investigation."

 

This story was originally published in The Sun and is reprinted with permission.