Daily Mirror Articles

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Daily Mirror Articles

Postby bjr » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:15 pm

MADDY, 3 GOES MISSING
Agony as 3-yr-old vanishes from holiday flat
Martin Fricker In Praia Da Luz and Rod Chaytor5/05/2007

(What's this?)A HUGE hunt was going on last night for three-year-old Maddy McCann, feared snatched from her holiday flat.

Maddy is believed to have been taken as she slept in the complex on Portugal's Algarve as her doctor parents ate at a bar 120ft away. Her scent was picked up by a police sniffer dog. But it petered out after 400 yards.

Yesterday, 24 hours after the young child vanished in quiet Praia da Luz, anguished parents Gerry and Kate, both 38, of Rothley, Leics, begged for her return.

A friend said: "Kate rang us totally hysterical, saying Maddy was abducted. They're devastated."

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The appalling news that three-year-old Maddy McCann was feared kidnapped from her holiday flat came in a distraught phone call early yesterday from her dad.

Heart specialist Gerry McCann rang his sister Trish in Scotland after Maddy vanished from her cot placed between two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie.

Trish revealed yesterday: "He was breaking his heart, saying 'Madeleine's been abducted, she's been abducted'."

Gerry and wife Kate, both 38, had been checking their three children in the family's ground-floor flat every 30 minutes as they dined with friends 120ft away.

Trish said: "When Kate checked, she came out screaming. Maddy had gone. The door was open and the window in the bedroom and shutters were jemmied open. Nothing had been touched and no valuables taken.

"They think someone must have come in the window and gone out the door with her."

Close family friend Gill Renwick, of Liverpool, who also spoke to GP Kate yesterday, said: "Poor Kate and Gerry don't know where to turn.

"Madeleine has obviously been taken. She couldn't have gone out on her own and the shutters were forced."

Maddy went missing at the Mark Warner Ocean club resort in the coastal village of Praia da Luz on Portugal's Algarve. A trail of her scent picked up by police dogs at the flat was followed to a supermarket just 400 yards away where it disappeared.

A 24-hour search by police, hundreds of villagers and British holidaymakers failed to find any trace of the child.

Last night Gerry and Kate, of Rothley, Leics, issued a statement saying they were hopeful Maddy would be found safe and well. It read: "This is a particularly difficult time for the family and we are all comforting each other. We have received lots of support from friends, family and the public and are very grateful.

"All the family's focus is in assisting the authorities in securing Madeleine's return."

A woman friend of the McCanns - one of their holiday party of nine adults and eight children - said: "We went for dinner at 8.45pm in a restaurant near the apartments as we've done every night.

"A parent from each family went back to check on the children every half hour.

"Someone checked at 9.15. But when Kate went later Madeleine had gone.

"The window shutters, which had been closed since we arrived on Saturday, were open along with the window. They can be opened from the outside.

"The window opens on to a car park. The door to the room was shut. It looks as if someone has come through the window and possibly left through the door."

Close family friend Jon Corner, of Liverpool, told how tearful Kate sobbed down the phone early yesterday: "Someone has taken my little girl."

Jon, godparent to the McCanns' twins, said: "She was in an absolutely hysterical state - very, very distressed. She blurted out Madeleine had been abducted.

"Kate said the shutters of the room were smashed. Madeleine was missing It looks as though someone had gone straight past the twins to get to her. Kate was incredibly upset. I've spoken to her since, and she's still completely devastated.

"She's also very upset that the police don't seem to be doing more to find Madeleine. She thinks there's too little happening."

Mr Corner described the McCanns as a "superb mother and father". He said: "They are a very loving family."

The McCanns' apartment is set in a self-contained complex which boasts villas and apartments together with supermarkets, restaurants, cafes, boutiques and bars.

Mark Warner management denied there were signs of forced entry at the flat claiming instead that roller shutters had been slid up and the bedroom window opened.

The firm added that police were keeping an open mind over whether Maddy had managed to leave the apartment on her own.

The McCanns were said to have chosen the complex as a "family-friendly resort."

But they declined to take advantage of a baby-sitting service which would have left their children supervised while they dined.

Resort manager John Hill said around 60 staff and guests had searched until 4.30am yesterday as police contacted border authorities, neighbouring Spanish officers and airports.

Mr Hill said: "It was a very emotional and very frantic night and everyone did a fantastic job of getting involved and trying to search the area.

"There are a criminal investigator and around 20 officers here but unfortunately there's still no information. If I was in the McCanns' situation, I'd be frustrated as hell. If there were 100 police here I'd want more."

The British Embassy said it had been informed about Maddy's disappearance.

Portuguese police said: "It's a sensitive case. It involves a child and we cannot give more information for now."

Officers sealed off the five-storey holiday block with crime scene tape and fingerprinted the shutters and window sill outside Maddy's room. A patio to the rear of the block, believed to be attached to the family's two-bedroom apartment, was also sealed off.

By late afternoon the hunt for Maddy had intensified with helicopter crews, firemen and maritime search teams involved.

A special criminal investigation team from the Policia Judiciria was travelling down from Lisbon.

Sky News weather presenter Jo Wheeler said local police had been giving out maps and telling people where to look. She said: "It's very well organised."

Wheeler said Maddy could not have wandered on her own back to the beach.

She said: "She'd have to have taken a long and tortuous journey, crossed several roads and walked three quarters of a mile."

Back in the UK police stood guard outside the McCanns' five-bedroom home in a quiet cul-de-sac. Neighbour Tracey Horsfield, 32, a nurse, said: "They're delightful people - a normal, caring family. They idolise their children. They'd never let them out of their sight." Another neighbour Penny Noble said: "We're absolutely devastated. They're a really nice family. We see them going for walks. Madeleine is a happy-go-lucky little girl."

Last night Kate's father, Brian Healy, of Mossley Hill, Liverpool, was preparing to fly out to Portugal. He said: "We're worried sick. It's a very distressing time."

Gerry McCann is said to be one of Europe's top heart specialists and a consultant cardiologist at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester. The hospital is a centre of excellence for heart surgery in the UK.

Doug Skehan, also a consultant cardiologist at the hospital, said: "He is a popular, hard-working colleague for whom we have great affection.

"The mood here is one of great concern and we hope that Kate and Gerry will have their daughter back very soon."
To my critics
When I'm in a sober mood, I worry, work and think,
When I'm in a drunken mood, I gamble, play and drink,
But when my moods are over and my time has come to pass,
I hope I'm buried upside down, so the world may kiss my ar*e
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Re: Daily Mirror Articles

Postby bjr » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:16 pm

MADDY MUM'S NEW APPEAL
Mum's plea for 'lovely' girl, 3
Martin Fricker in Praia da Luz7/05/2007
Kate McCann
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(What's this?)THE mother of missing Maddy McCann today begged her kidnapper not to hurt her "beautiful" daughter.

Kate McCann appeared alongside her husband Gerry in front of press in Portugal to make what was clearly a very distressing personal plea to the person or people holding Maddy.

She said: "Please, please do hurt her. Please do not scare her. Please let us know where to find Madeleine or put her in a place of safety and tell somebody where.

"Madeleine is a beautiful, bright, funny and caring little girl. She is so special."

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Yesterday Kate McCann attended a Mother's Day church service celebrating the bond between mothers and daughters.

Tears streamed down her face as she watched Portuguese children giving flowers to their mums and thanking them for their loving care.

A local girl presented her with a posy of five roses - flowers which under happier circumstances would have come from missing Madeleine.

Brave Kate, 38, choked back her tears and whispered: "Thank you."

She was warned before attending yesterday's service at the Church of Our Lady of the Light that it would celebrate Mother's Day in Portugal. She insisted it should go ahead as planned.

But the strain was etched on her face as she clutched at Madeleine's toy pink cat and prayed for her daughter's safe return.

She kissed the threadbare toy repeatedly as she prayed. It was believed to have been left behind when the little girl was snatched.

Husband Gerry, also 38, put a comforting arm around her as Father Jose Manuel Pacheco led the prayers for Madeleine, her family and the police hunting for her. He said: "We pray that Madeleine will be brought home safe to the heart of the family. We are with you - courage, courage, courage."

Altar girl Emily Seromenho, 14, presented Kate with the roses and told her to walk with the Portuguese mothers and lay them at the feet of the Virgin Mary by the altar.

GP Kate paused by the statue - seemingly lost in silent prayer - and was embraced by the village mothers as the service ended.

She and husband Gerry were engulfed by almost 40 people as they left. Pensioners, mothers and their children swarmed round the Catholic couple and kissed, hugged and shook hands with them in an extraordinary gesture of support.

Many were in tears as they left the tiny white-painted church in Praia da Luz - including Emily.

The teenager, whose English mother Sarah lived in Ascot, Berks, before moving to the Algarve with her husband Francisco, said: "I felt she was very sad. I felt sad too.

"I told her she should give the flowers to the Virgin Mary. She just said 'Thank you'. It is a special service for us. It is nice but it was sad because of what is happening with Madeleine. We are all shocked by what has happened."

Kate and Gerry were accompanied at the service by eight relatives, including Madeleine's grandparents Susan and Brian Healy.

Holidaymakers passed by the church on their way to the beach, clutching their kid's hands tightly.

Expat Peggy Brown, 83, said: "Luz has always been a little oasis away from the bad things that have been happening in the world.

"What has happened is devastating, you can feel it. There is a sort of veil of sadness in the place."

Madeleine disappeared from the family's apartment at the Mark Warner Ocean Club while Kate and Gerry were at a restaurant on the complex just 120ft away.

They decided not to use a creche service and instead left Madeleine and their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie sleeping. They had been taking turns to return to the block to check on the children.

Kate found the shutter and window to Madeleine's room had been opened and her daughter missing shortly before 10pm.

A photograph of Madeleine taken during the holiday in Portugal last week was released by the family yesterday. In the holiday snap, she poses for the camera on a tennis court at the Algarve resort.

A family friend said Madeleine is a "very confident" girl who would "talk to anyone".

Portuguese police now have a detailed description of the man they believe took Madeleine - but do not know his identity. The Daily Mirror has been given the description but has agreed not to publish it at the request of police.

They are worried releasing too much information could possibly "spook" the kidnapper.

Officers have also created an artist's impression of the suspect - but bizarrely it is only of the back of his head.

Earlier yesterday, Kate and heart specialist Gerry, from Rothley, Leicestershire, were escorted through the resort by three family liaison officers from Leicestershire Police.

One of Kate's colleagues has offered a £100,000 reward for the youngster's safe return.

Police are also investigating reports that a "suspicious" couple were spotted with a blonde child in nearby Lagos on Friday morning.

British businessman George Burke, who has lived near the resort for 16 years after moving from Liverpool, said they "scurried" down a road towards a railway station. He added: "It was 6am and pitch black I couldn't be certain it was her."

Last night holiday firm Mark Warner, which owns the Ocean Club complex, said several British families had cancelled their bookings.

Meanwhile relatives defended Kate and Gerry for leaving their three youngsters while they went with friends to have a meal.

Great uncle Brian Kennedy, from Liverpool, said: "The children were only left in the sense that when you put your children to bed, you don't stay in their room all night.

"Kate and Gerry are absolutely devoted to their children."
To my critics
When I'm in a sober mood, I worry, work and think,
When I'm in a drunken mood, I gamble, play and drink,
But when my moods are over and my time has come to pass,
I hope I'm buried upside down, so the world may kiss my ar*e
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Re: Daily Mirror Articles

Postby bjr » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:17 pm

PARENTS PRAY FOR MISSING MADDY
Maddy mum's plea as police fear the worst
Vanessa Allen and Martin Fricker In Praia Da Luz8/05/2007
Maddy McCann's parents
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(What's this?)THE parents of kidnapped Maddy McCann today made a private visit to the local church of Nossa Senhora Da Luz (Our Lady of Light) to pray for her safe return.

Clutching Madeleine's favourite soft toy and a picture of her, Mrs McCann walked with her head bowed. The couple were accompanied by a member of staff from the Mark Warner resort where Madeleine went missing.

Earlier, Mrs McCann begged her captor to let her come home - as the detective leading the hunt said he feared she was already dead.

Chief inspector Olegario Sousa told a press conference he was no longer confident that the three-year-old was still alive.

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Asked if he thought Maddy would be found safe and well, he replied: "I don't know."

The senior cop, drafted in from Lisbon to head the case, added: "I haven't enough evidence to say. It is very difficult because I have no facts to say if the child is alive or not.

"We are searching for the child and until the moment she appears we do not know.

"We are not magicians but we are making our best efforts to locate the child."

It will be a crushing blow to Maddy's distraught parents, doctors Kate and Gerry, both 38. Just hours earlier, Kate had read out a statement begging her daughter's captor: "Please, please don't hurt her. Please don't scare her."

Clutching the pink toy cat she has kept by her side ever since Maddy vanished, she choked back tears and added: "We beg you to let Madeleine come home. We need our Madeleine. Sean and Amelie need Madeleine and Madeleine needs us."

"Please give our little girl back." She then repeated the final sentence in Portuguese, saying: "Por favor, devolva a nossa menina."

Sean and Amelie are the couple's two-year-old twins who were sleeping next to Maddy when she was taken from the family's apartment in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz on Thursday night.

The couple, from Rothley, Leics, had been dining with pals at a bar just 40yds away and making regular checks when she was snatched. As hundreds of expats, frustrated over the police investigation, continued to search the area surrounding the resort yesterday, it emerged that detectives have an ever-growing list of suspects - possibly including two Brits - but have not officially issued details.

They also failed to release details of what Maddy was wearing - leaving it to her mum to describe her Eeyore pyjamas.

Detectives, who are still treating the case only as a missing persons inquiry, say Interpol and Europol are working with them. Yet they insist they are banned by law from passing any information to Maddy's family.

A search of coastal caves had to be carried out with help from local canoeists because the police did not have enough boats.

Detectives have at least seven possible suspects, and have searched a marina in Lagos after reports a balding man was spotted dragging a young girl along a nearby street.

Another witness said he saw a "suspicious" couple with a blonde girl close to the same marina a few hours after Maddy was taken. Police are also interested in a man who was spotted handing out sweets to young children. Other suspects include a man in dark clothing, a person shouting in English at a girl in a car and a British man "with a strong body".

However, police sources fear Maddy's kidnapper could have taken her from the area by boat as officials failed to alert the Maritime Police of her abduction until 14 hours later.

Police have checked details of boats that left the town on Friday morning, among them were two yachts registered in Denmark and Holland. Another fear is that the kidnapper could have fled by early morning train.

Expat Dave Felton, who joined the search yesterday, said: "I think people are still hoping that we don't actually find her and that she is safe and sound somewhere. If we find her then maybe it is not the best thing."
To my critics
When I'm in a sober mood, I worry, work and think,
When I'm in a drunken mood, I gamble, play and drink,
But when my moods are over and my time has come to pass,
I hope I'm buried upside down, so the world may kiss my ar*e
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Re: Daily Mirror Articles

Postby bjr » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:18 pm

POLICE GIVE MADDY SEARCH DETAILS
By Mirror.co.uk8/05/2007
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(What's this?)A PORTUGUESE police chief tonight spelled out details of the investigation into the disappearance of kidnapped Maddy McCann.

He revealed that officers have searched fields and rivers within 15 kilometres of Praia da Luz where the three-year-old went missing.

They have questioned more than 100 people in connection with the disappearance and followed up more than 350 leads. Sadly, none of them have so far produced anything which might lead to Maddy being returned to her parents Kate and Gerry.

A reported sighting of Maddy earlier today in the northern town of Nelas, reported by Portuguese TV and Sky News, turned out to be a false alarm.

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Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa said tonight that more than 500 apartments had been searched during the investigation – but added that details the police were able to release under Portuguese law were limited.

Earlier today Maddy's parents prayed at the local church and appealed to the kidnapper to release their daughter unharmed.

Manchester United's Portuguese superstar Cristiana Ronaldo also made a personal plea for the safe return of the little girl from Rothley, Leicestershire.

In English and Portuguese Ronaldo said: "I was very upset to hear of the abduction of Madeleine McCann and I appeal to anyone with information to come forward, please come forward."
To my critics
When I'm in a sober mood, I worry, work and think,
When I'm in a drunken mood, I gamble, play and drink,
But when my moods are over and my time has come to pass,
I hope I'm buried upside down, so the world may kiss my ar*e
User avatar
bjr
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Posts: 4181
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2007 2:10 pm
Location: 3rd Cesspit from left of Rothley Towers

Re: Daily Mirror Articles

Postby bjr » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:19 pm

SOCCER STARS IN TV PLEAS FOR TOT
By Martin Fricker And Stewart Maclean9/05/2007
Cristiano Ronaldo
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(What's this?)CRISTIANO Ronaldo pleaded for Maddy's safe return yesterday after her desperate parents begged him for help.

The Portuguese star made an appeal on his country's TV. Speaking in English and Portuguese, 22-year-old Ronaldo said: "I was very upset to hear of her abduction.

"I appeal to anyone with information to come forward. Please come forward."

Chelsea stars John Terry and Paulo Ferreira last night backed his call. England captain Terry said: "We are urging anyone out there with any information at all - please, please, please come forward." Portugal international Ferreira repeated his teammate's words in Portuguese.

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A Manchester United source said: "Ronaldo has followed this story and he's devastated for the family. The story has struck him more than most people because it's happened in his home country.

"He was being interviewed by our MUTV channel and was happy to add his voice to the other appeals for Maddy. He just hopes his words might make a difference."
To my critics
When I'm in a sober mood, I worry, work and think,
When I'm in a drunken mood, I gamble, play and drink,
But when my moods are over and my time has come to pass,
I hope I'm buried upside down, so the world may kiss my ar*e
User avatar
bjr
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Posts: 4181
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2007 2:10 pm
Location: 3rd Cesspit from left of Rothley Towers

Re: Daily Mirror Articles

Postby bjr » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:20 pm

CLUELESS
We reveal errors made by police in kidnap hunt for Maddy
Martin Fricker and Stewart Maclean In Praia Da Luz9/05/2007
Kate McCann
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(What's this?)THE family of kidnapped Maddy McCann last night told of their anger at Portuguese police over their blunders in the hunt for the child.

Ten basic errors in the hours after the abduction could have given the kidnapper time to flee abroad and wrecked vital forensic evidence at the crime scene.

Maddy's great uncle Brian Kennedy said: "It took the police a long time to get things moving. The early stages could have been much quicker."

He spoke as officers were probing the possibility three-year-old Maddy was snatched by a gang of paedophiles led by British perverts. It was also revealed detectives had an e-fit of the suspect the day after she vanished but refused to hand it over to the media.

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The string of mistakes in the early part of the investigation have astounded police in Britain.

BLUNDER ONE: Officers failed to cordon off the holiday apartment where Maddy was snatched as soon as they arrived. Amazingly, other tourists were allowed to stroll around the crime scene up to 24 hours later - potentially destroying clues and contaminating forensic evidence.

BLUNDER TWO: Police did not "lock down" the Mark Warner resort where the youngster was staying with parents Kate and Gerry, both 38, and their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie. They refused to believe Maddy had been kidnapped and insisted she probably wandered off.

BLUNDER THREE: Border officials were not alerted until 12 hours after the snatch, meaning the kidnapper could have fled to Spain - only an hour's drive away from the holiday complex at Praia da Luz on the Algarve.

BLUNDER FOUR: Coastal patrols had to wait 14 hours to be told of last Thursday's snatch.

BLUNDER FIVE: Instead of amassing a huge force of officers to hunt for Maddy, just 150 were involved in the initial, badly organised searches. The scouring of 500 apartments did not begin until Sunday.

BLUNDER SIX: No direct appeal was made to the kidnapper in the hours after the crime. It was left to Maddy's distraught parents to publicly plea for help.

BLUNDER SEVEN: There were no officials posters of the missing child printed. Locals and Mark Warner staff produced their own. Police even refused to distribute pictures of Maddy until yesterday.

BLUNDER EIGHT: A complete list of guests at the resort was not gathered until Sunday, by which point many of them - potential witnesses - had left.

BLUNDER NINE: Police have still not identified any suspects, despite having the e-fit of a man with long hair which they showed only to locals. One restaurant worker said his wife saw a man fitting the description hanging around suspiciously outside their bar just 100 metres from the resort.

BLUNDER TEN: A detailed description of what Maddy was wearing when snatched was not issued. In fact, Portuguese police have maintained a wall of silence, claiming privacy laws stop them from revealing many details about their investigation.

Det Supt Alan Ladley, who led the hunt for murdered eight-year-old Sarah Payne in July 2000, said the blunders could be fatal.

He added: "It's basic coppering..making sure your search doesn't miss vital clues that could crack the case and checking on known and suspected sex offenders to see who's in the area."

There are fears Maddy may have been snatched by a British-led paedophile gang. One police source said: "The chance that Madeleine's kidnap was ordered by an international paedophile network of UK origin is one of the most consistent leads officers were investigating."

Portuguese authorities are checking the background of British perverts with Algarve links.

Maddy's parents, from Rothley, Leics, yesterday attended a private prayer session at a Catholic church in Praia da Luz. GP mum Kate was again clutching her daughter's pink "cuddle cat" which the youngster slept with. She also had a photo of the little girl and rosary beads on her wrist.

John Buck, Britain's ambassador to Portugal, insisted the couple are happy with the police's attempts to find their daughter. He said: "They are very grateful for their efforts."

An apparent sighting of the youngster turned out to be a false alarm. Probe leader chief inspector Olegario Sousa said the girl looked like Maddy but lived in the area where she was spotted. The officer also revealed that more than 350 suspicious incidents had been investigated since the kidnap.

As well as the 500 apartments searched, police also scoured fields stretching 15 kilometres around the resort. A quarry, a dam and bridges along the motorway to Spain have been investigated.

Mark Warner staff - including 31 Britons - were being quizzed about Maddy's disappearance.

Two British psychologists who are experts in child abduction and paedophile cases arrived in Portugal yesterday to help police compile a profile of the kidnapper.

An officer from the Serious Organised Crime Agency in London is also there.

Rothley residents yesterday held a silent vigil for Maddy. Friends of the family lit candles and tied ribbons around the village green railings.
To my critics
When I'm in a sober mood, I worry, work and think,
When I'm in a drunken mood, I gamble, play and drink,
But when my moods are over and my time has come to pass,
I hope I'm buried upside down, so the world may kiss my ar*e
User avatar
bjr
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Posts: 4181
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2007 2:10 pm
Location: 3rd Cesspit from left of Rothley Towers

Re: Daily Mirror Articles

Postby bjr » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:21 pm

OPTIMISM AMID THE TORMENT OF 'IF ONLYS'
Sue Carroll 9/05/2007
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News picturesFOR the past six days, time has stood still for Kate McCann.

Since discovering her daughter Madeleine missing at 10pm last Thursday we have seen her face frozen with grief and fear.

She clutches and smells her three-year-old daughter's favourite cuddly toy desperately searching for that familiar scent. And never out of her grasp is a mobile phone which she wills to ring.

We've seen this misery before. In the long, cruel days as they waited for news of their daughter Sarah, her parents Sara and Michael Payne presented the same weary faces that told of sleepless nights, terror and sheer desperation.

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And like Sara, Kate was the distraught mother who took the lead at a press conference, pleading and cajoling with whoever had taken her child to simply bring her back safely.

"Please, please do not hurt her. Please do not scare her," Kate begged those responsible for snatching Madeleine from a bedroom at the Portuguese holiday resort six days ago.

My deepest fear is that she is appealing to a humanity that simply does not exist.

We now know Madeleine to be a bright-eyed, adorable, pretty little girl and Kate and Gerry McCann's much wanted first child - another miracle of IVF and all the more precious because of that.

For her abductor, fuelled by the urge to possess her at any cost, this little girl is mere prey, the embodiment of some wicked fantasy. What makes Madeleine's disappearance truly terrifying is that her parents - responsible, caring doctors - chose to stay in one of those smart holiday resorts where it's assumed nothing untoward can ever happen.

To make absolutely sure, an army of nannies patrol Mark Warner complexes offering babysitting services.

And yet the McCanns took what to many of us seems an extraordinary decision and one which, I suspect, will torment them in years to come. They chose not to use a childminder as they enjoyed a dinner in a nearby restaurant.

It was, they must have reasoned, just a hop and a skip away from the ground floor room where Madeleine slept with her twin brother and sister and close enough to monitor.

Surely, no family will take that risk ever again.

As the mother of Ben Needham, snatched 16 years ago in Greece, reminded us this week, it takes just a nano-second for a child to disappear. Predators are watchful, cunning and prepared to play long waiting games to identify and target a victim. Ben, playing under the watchful eye of his grandmother, was in her sight one minute and gone the next.

Even now, the family believe he's alive somewhere, perhaps being raised by a childless couple who paid for him to be stolen to order. Such an outcome seems far-fetched, but without hope there would be only desolation.

At this time hope is all the McCanns have got - it's something Sara Payne advises they cling to. "Above all," she says, "stay positive."

It's a tall order given the incompetence of the Portuguese police who manage to make Inspector Clouseau look like The Sweeney.

Nor can it be of much comfort to the McCanns to learn that in Portugal there is no sex-offender register. Or, more worryingly, that just weeks ago staff at the resort were warned of a "weird" man bothering children.

Would they have left their own three unattended had they been aware of these suspicions? This is not the time for "what ifs".

For now, staying strong, praying and accepting support is all Kate and Gerry can do. It's why their family back home in Rothley, Leicestershire, are continuing with plans for Madeleine's fourth birthday this Saturday.

The Doctor Who cake she asked for has been baked and the family continue to put out positive messages. "We fear the worst, but we are hoping for the best," says relative Brian Kennedy. His words echo the sentiments of us all.
To my critics
When I'm in a sober mood, I worry, work and think,
When I'm in a drunken mood, I gamble, play and drink,
But when my moods are over and my time has come to pass,
I hope I'm buried upside down, so the world may kiss my ar*e
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Re: Daily Mirror Articles

Postby bjr » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:23 pm

FAMILY RALLY ROUND MADDY'S MUM
Vanessa Allen and Martin Fricker in Praia Da Luz10/05/2007
Kate and Amelie McCann
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(What's this?)ANGRY relatives yesterday defended distraught mum Kate McCann against growing criticism over the kidnapping of her three-year-old daughter Madeleine.

They are horrified by suggestions that the GP and her heart consultant husband Gerry were to blame for leaving the youngster and their two-year-old twins alone while they went out for dinner during their holiday in Portugal.

People are asking why they didn't make use of the creche at the Mark Warner resort in Praia da Luz - or take the kids with them.

There have even been claims that the professional couple, both 38, should face prosecution for neglect.

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But Kate's 61-year-old mother Susan Healy said last night: "They know this was a mistake. But it wasn't child neglect, it wasn't not caring for your children. Their children are the most importing things in their lives."

She spoke as Portuguese police revealed they are anxious to trace four men seen acting suspiciously near the complex where Madeleine was snatched from her bed a week ago.

A local shopgirl saw them in a car driving around the area a few days before the abduction - and on the night Madeleine went missing.

She says she tried to report it straight away but detectives told her they were too busy to speak to her.

Meanwhile grandma Susan revealed that Madeleine and her twin brother and sister, Sean and Amelie, were all test tube babies.

She said her daughter had IVF treatment after she and Gerry were unable to conceive normally.

Speaking from her home in Woolton, Liverpool, she said: "Kate and Gerry waited a long time for those children - that's why they are so precious to them."

She says she is still struggling to come to terms with what has happened - and the increasing torrent of criticism that is being levelled at her daughter and her husband.

She asked: "Why would you think something like this would happen? You make a decision and think it's OK.

"This time it wasn't and Kate and Gerry have to live with that. That's dreadful and they don't need pressure from other people.

"Kate and Gerry went to a family-friendly resort where there has never been any crime or any trouble.

"They felt their children were safe, with the shutters down. They were also maybe lulled into a false sense of security by the fact they went on holiday with three other couples.

"They were quite happy about the checks they were doing on the children. You couldn't have more caring parents.

"Kate and Gerry are absolutely devastated. I have heard my daughter wailing like a wild animal."

Madeleine will be four on Saturday but Susan says: "I haven't thought about her birthday. I'm just hoping and praying we'll have her back before then."

Kate's dad Brian, 67, said the couple were trying to put on a brave face and "remain positive".

He added: "They go to Mass, they comfort each other. They have to go to the police station quite often - to be honest it is a b****y nightmare.

"They couldn't have done more and any one who says they haven't done enough is not being fair to them."

Madeleine's uncle, John McCann, last night issued a public appeal to the kidnapper to release the youngster unharmed. In an emotional statement on Sky News he said: "Give her back - please. Madeleine loves us, we love her. It's time for her to come home." He said the twins were already missing their big sister and kept asking: "Where's Madeleine?"

He added that Kate and Gerry had been "through the mangle" and their emotions were "ripped" but they were staying focused on the relentless task of finding their daughter.

The couple issued a statement yesterday, saying: "We are grateful to all of those currently taking part in the search for our daughter.

"At present we are channelling all of our emotions and all of our efforts into the steps that are being taken to secure Madeleine's safe return. We continue to remain positive and we thank the media for their ongoing support."

Fears were growing last night that the youngster could have been smuggled across the border into Spain. Spanish police have been stopping all cars coming into the country from Portugal but border police were not alerted for 12 hours after the snatch and no pictures of Madeleine were given to Spanish police until Tuesday.

Detectives are also examining CCTV tape of a woman with a girl fitting Madeleine's description at a petrol station two miles from Luz on the N22 motorway from Portugal to Spain.

The woman was said to be urging her to say "thank you" to staff but the girl was reluctant, apparently wanting to say something.

Portuguese police have now accepted British offers of help. An officer from the Serious Organised Crime Agency and two officials from the Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre have flown out.

One is understood to be Det Supt Graham Hill, who led the investigation into the unsolved disappearance of Surrey teenager Milly Dowler.

Senior officers in the UK have privately expressed astonishment at the "hopeless" Portuguese handling of the case.

Three liaison officers sent to help the McCanns are also understood to have been "banging their heads against a brick wall".

An insider said: "They have been putting questions on behalf of the family but getting zero response."

Detectives in Britain have drawn up a list of known sex-offenders who travelled to Portugual from the UK in recent weeks.

They will now check on each of them amid claims that Madeleine could have been stolen to order by a British paedophile network. The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre has also put an appeal on its website, which is viewed in 130 countries.


THE SIX THEORIES

Police leading the hunt for Madeleine are probing six theories:

1 PAEDOPHILE GANG: Officers fear she may have been snatched by an organised gang who had the resources to watch the apartment for a number of days. They would also have arranged transport and possibly a house where they could hold her.

2 LONE PAEDOPHILE: This is a major line of inquiry. There have been sightings of a girl of Madeleine's age with a mystery man in the area.

3 JEALOUS MOTHER: A grieving mother, possibly mentally ill, might have "recognised" her own daughter when she saw Madeleine. She could easily have blended in at the resort and taken the girl when she knew her parents were not there. A woman with Madeleine would not have raised any suspicions. But the only e-fit is of a male, so many discount this theory.

4 DROWNED: There have been suggestions Madeleine got out of the flat by herself and went looking for her mother. Officers checked early in the investigation if she had wandered the 500 or so yards to the beach. Dogs followed a scent to a supermarket en route to the sea but then the trail went cold.

5 OPPORTUNIST PAEDOPHILE: This is believed to be another major line of inquiry. A paedophile could have chanced upon the opportunity to snatch her unplanned. Roy Whiting was a classic opportunist, grabbing Sarah Payne off a country lane during the day.

6 CHILDLESS COUPLE: A rich couple may have ordered her kidnap and will attempt to pass Madeleine off as their own. They will almost certainly change her appearance, maybe cutting her hair or dyeing it. They would have given a kidnapper a description of their "ideal" child - possibly a young blonde girl.
To my critics
When I'm in a sober mood, I worry, work and think,
When I'm in a drunken mood, I gamble, play and drink,
But when my moods are over and my time has come to pass,
I hope I'm buried upside down, so the world may kiss my ar*e
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bjr
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Re: Daily Mirror Articles

Postby bjr » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:24 pm

RIGHT NOT TO BERATE
Brian Reade 10/05/2007
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News picturesA BIG-UP to the majority of Middle England commentators showing compassion towards Kate McCann, whose daughter Madeleine was snatched in Portugal.

How easy it would have been for them to berate her for leaving the three-year-old girl and her two younger siblings alone in an apartment while she enjoyed a meal with her hubby 100 yards away.

Easy, but very harsh and cruel, seeing as nobody but the McCanns knew the specific circumstances.

So well done for holding back.

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I hope this is a trend. And the next time a working-class mum on benefits leaves her children "Home Alone" while she nips out to the shops/pub/bingo for half an hour, we don't see the usual bile spewed at her about being a scrounging, pleasure-seeking disgrace to motherhood who deserves to have her kids taken away from her and be sterilised.

Mind you, as there's one law for middleclass professionals eating tapas in a nice restaurant and another for the feckless working-class, I don't hold out much hope.
To my critics
When I'm in a sober mood, I worry, work and think,
When I'm in a drunken mood, I gamble, play and drink,
But when my moods are over and my time has come to pass,
I hope I'm buried upside down, so the world may kiss my ar*e
User avatar
bjr
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Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2007 2:10 pm
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Re: Daily Mirror Articles

Postby bjr » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:25 pm

HORRIFIED BECKS IN TV PLEA
HUNT FOR MADELEINE
By Stewart Maclean11/05/2007
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(What's this?)DAVID Beckham will today make an appeal for the safe return of Madeleine on the eve of her fourth birthday.

The Real Madrid star, 32, will go on Spanish TV to beg anyone with information on the toddler to contact police.

A source close to the dad-of-three said: "David was horrified - as a father himself, it's hit him hard. In Madrid, he's geographically close.

"He spoke to Victoria and she agreed they should help."

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"He has been in touch with Madeleine's family and they asked him to make an appeal."

Portuguese police have not ruled out the idea the kidnappers fled to Spain because of the ease of crossing the border.

They think Beckham's plea, made in English and Spanish and likely to gain blanket coverage, could bring in clues.

The source added: "In Spain, the case doesn't have the same profile. People might not know to come forward, but David's plea could push the story into public consciousness."

"The Beckhams know it's Madeleine's birthday on Saturday and they're praying she'll be home with her family."
To my critics
When I'm in a sober mood, I worry, work and think,
When I'm in a drunken mood, I gamble, play and drink,
But when my moods are over and my time has come to pass,
I hope I'm buried upside down, so the world may kiss my ar*e
User avatar
bjr
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Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2007 2:10 pm
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Re: Daily Mirror Articles

Postby bjr » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:26 pm

THE CCTV SUSPECTS
Vanessa Allen and Martin Fricker in Praia Da Luz11/05/2007
Police believe Brits could have taken Maddy
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(What's this?)MISSING Madeleine McCann could have been snatched by two men and a woman in a British car, police believe.

The three suspects were caught on CCTV at a petrol station near Praia da Luz, where the tot vanished last Thursday - raising fears she was kidnapped to order by a gang of perverts.

And a witness last night told detectives he was certain one of the trio was the same man who took photos of his daughter on a nearby beach three days earlier.

Descriptions of the gang and the car's details were flashed to police around Europe by Interpol.

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The lead came as Madeleine's parents Gerry and Kate, both 38, released a new picture of their daughter in an Everton shirt.

A police source said: "This CCTV footage from the garage was fed into the investigation after a worker there expressed suspicions about the way the people were acting.

"We have a witness who claims he recognises those people from an alleged incident a few days earlier.

"The man took a picture of the suspect on his mobile phone, we are looking at that.

"Unfortunately, the lens was partially obscured by his finger, but it could prove useful." The Portuguese witness, who lives in Germany, told officers the suspect fled in a car with another man and a woman after the incident on Sagres beach, 16 miles from Praia da Luz.

Staff at the petrol station called police after a "foreign-looking" blonde in her 40s came in with a child matching Madeleine's description. Witnesses said she tried to make the girl say thank you in Portuguese, but she refused and looked uncomfortable.

The child was not visible on the footage, but the number plate was yellow and black - as in Britain.

Distraught Gerry and Kate, of Rothley, Leics, were taken to police HQ in Portimao and told of the development yesterday. But it is not thought the couple saw the footage.

Catholic Kate later attended an Anglican church vigil in Praia da Luz for Madeleine, who is four tomorrow. She looked gaunt and had to be supported by a friend throughout the emotional service.

Expat Denise Ryans, who left in tears, said: "She was in despair."

Last night Madeleine's grandparents Susan and Brian Healy and 300 friends and relatives packed Our Lady of Compassion Catholic church in Formby, Merseyside, to pray for her. The CCTV footage was from a Galp petrol station on the A22 road out of Praia da Luz which heads east to Spain - two hours drive away. It could be the first positive lead for police hunting Madeleine. The film has been shown to residents in towns on routes from the resort.

Pharmacies have been asked if anyone has bought insect sprays that contain chloroform, which could be used to drug Madeleine.

Two couples, thought to be British and in their 50s, were also driven to police HQ to help detectives.

British police have passed a list of paedophiles to Portuguese officials and have identified two who live in the Algarve.

Crimestoppers has taken hundreds of calls from expats in Portugal and visitors regarding possible perverts in the region.

Leicestershire Police are dealing with the information and passing it on. A spokesman said: "Crimestoppers has passed to us information which they regarded as significant."

Portuguese police are also investigating a report from a witness who saw a blonde woman looking through Madeleine's window at the Mark Warner complex on the night she was taken from her bed while her parents ate in a restaurant nearby.

Other possible sightings include a woman who said she saw a car with three men parked outside the complex.

Police last night wound down the land search for Madeleine. Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa said a 125-mile area had been scoured at least twice.

He added: "The area that they covered until now - and all the places that have been checked - the results are zero."

He confirmed that neither Kate nor Gerry were suspects. After the picture of the youngster in an Everton shirt was released, team captain Phil Neville said: "Fans, along with everyone connected with the football club, are hoping and praying for Madeleine's safe return."
To my critics
When I'm in a sober mood, I worry, work and think,
When I'm in a drunken mood, I gamble, play and drink,
But when my moods are over and my time has come to pass,
I hope I'm buried upside down, so the world may kiss my ar*e
User avatar
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Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2007 2:10 pm
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Re: Daily Mirror Articles

Postby bjr » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:27 pm

GIVE HER STRENGTH
Mum Kate close to collapse as nightmare takes its toll
Vanessa Allen and Martin Fricker In Praia Da Luz12/05/2007
Kate McCann
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(What's this?)THE Dr Who birthday cake with four candles is ready to be served - baked specially by a family friend because little Madeleine McCann so adores the show.

And dozens of relatives and friends had been invited to share in what was to be a laughter-filled family celebration. Madeleine's fourth birthday party.

But instead of watching proudly as her daughter unwraps her presents, mum Kate will endure the ongoing nightmare of her little girl's abduction from Portugal's Praia da Luz resort.

Yesterday, the mum-of-three looked near collapse as she and husband Gerry made yet another appeal for the safe return of Madeleine, who went missing nine days ago.

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And friends of the 38-year-old GP, who have anxiously followed her ordeal on TV back in Britain, say they are shocked by her sudden weight loss.

Jill Renwick said: "We are really worried about her. She has lost a lot of weight over the last few days.

"When I saw her leaving church I was very worried by what I saw. She looked exhausted and under terrible strain."

Other friends held a vigil at a church in Melton Mowbray, Leics, just yards from Kate's medical clinic. Her workmates are wearing yellow ribbons to symbolise hope, and a large ribbon has been tied around a tree at the clinic.

During yesterday's press conference, Gerry said he and Kate were comforted by all the efforts being made to find their daughter. He said: "We have now seen at first hand how hard the police are working in the search for Madeleine and their strong desire to find her.

"We have also seen the resources being put into the investigation. We are doing absolutely everything to assist the police with their investigation and we will leave no stone unturned in the search for our daughter Madeleine."

But in contrast to his determined outlook, Kate seemed frail, withdrawn and exhausted.

In the last few days days, she has been under an unimaginable strain. At a time when she should have been picking out last-minute presents for Madeleine she was spending hours looking at police photos of paedophiles who could have grabbed her child.

The McCanns are believed to have been shown CCTV pictures of three suspects the police are hunting.

The trio were caught on camera on Thursday May 3, the night Madeleine vanished from the family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz. Staff at a petrol station near the resort alerted police to say they had seen a woman with a child matching Madeleine's description.

The garage's CCTV footage showed the blonde woman with two men in a car with British number plates. There was no sign of a child. The woman and one of the men are said to be identical to a couple staying at the village of Burgau, only two miles from Praia da Luz.

One of the men on the footage was also allegedly spotted in the resort of Sagres taking pictures of young children.

Sniffer dogs found traces of Madeleine's scent leading from the family's apartment to another flat and a nearby supermarket.

Despite the terrible drama unfolding in Portugal, the Royal Oak pub in the family's village of Rothley, Leics, had planned to mark Madeleine's birthday today with a muted celebration, handing out slices of cake to well-wishers.

But after consulting the family, the plan has been shelved. Madeleine's great uncle Brian Kennedy, 68, said: "There was talk of a birthday party even if Madeleine was still missing. Now no-one is in the mood to celebrate anything.

"But we are sure she will soon be returned safely to us and then we'll all get together have a party."
To my critics
When I'm in a sober mood, I worry, work and think,
When I'm in a drunken mood, I gamble, play and drink,
But when my moods are over and my time has come to pass,
I hope I'm buried upside down, so the world may kiss my ar*e
User avatar
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Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2007 2:10 pm
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Re: Daily Mirror Articles

Postby bjr » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:28 pm

VILLAGERS PRAY FOR MADDY
By Ros Wynne-Jones12/05/2007
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(What's this?)VILLAGERS stand at the crossroads in Rothley at the memorial built to the dead of two world wars and remember a child they hope is still alive.

The black metalwork fence shines with hundreds of yellow ribbons glittering with raindrops. Teddy bears sag with a week's weather in them. Felt-tip pen messages bleed in the wet.

"Dear Maddy, you don't know me, but I am thinking of you," says the sloping scrawl of an intensely concentrating child. "It's a teddy bear for you when you come home, love Olivia xx."

But Madeleine is still missing after a week of frantic searching and television appeals, and the village is numbed and saddened.

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A distracted quiet permeates the pubs by the village green and makes the line in the fish and chip shop silent. Inside the newsagents a tiny radio plays up-to-the-minute news bulletins.

Her mother's words ring in the town's ears. "Do not hurt her. Do not scare her. Please let us know where to find Madeleine."

Elsewhere in Britain too, far from Rothley, people keep hoping. No one wants to think of what the end of hope might mean.

At the flower shop opposite the memorial, owner Gwyneth Green is asking people not to buy flowers.

"Flowers are for funerals," she says. "People place them at the site of road accidents. We want to show that Rothley hasn't given up hope."

She shakes her head remembering the shy little girl that sometimes came in with her mother. "We're still hoping in here," she adds.

Next door at the Royal Oak, landlady Valerie Armstrong is cutting yellow ribbons. She has cut hundreds of them and every morning the basket is empty.

"We thought the ribbons were the best message for the family," she says. "They're a way to show them out in Portugal how much everyone's thinking of them every minute of the day. Some people have tied them to their doorknockers or the garden fence. Yellow is such a hopeful colour."

The pub had planned to hold a quiet birthday party for Madeleine today, with a slice of cake for well-wishers. After consulting the family, the party has been cancelled.

"We're waiting for Maddy to come home, and have her party then," Valerie says, tidying tables where the MoCanns often come for Sunday lunch. "We want her to be at her own party. We want her home."

Yesterday, Madeleine's photograph in the papers in her Everton shirt recalled two little Soham girls in Manchester United tops.

Her mother Kate has the haunted look of Sara Payne, who lost her daughter a few summers since.

But still this is a village wedded to stubborn hope.

Rothley is the kind of place built on certainties, where rosy-cheeked children still have the sort of childhood long gone in the inner-cities.

The High Street is a series of neat little shops and the redbrick houses are draped in wisteria.

The council houses on the hill are clean and spacious with tended lawns.

Eight miles north of Leicester, the road sign for Rothley has a Knight Templar with St George's Cross.

Madeleine is a middle-England child stolen. No one tears their hair or weeps loudly. People bite their lip and move politely along.

And while the nation debates at arm's length her parents' decision to leave their three children alone 40 yards from where they ate their evening tapas, Rothley refuses to sit in judgement.

Their hell is enough.

"I have a three-year-old myself," says Jenny Ball, 30, tying a ribbon to the fence. "My teenage daughter is devastated and so is my partner. The fathers here are affected as bad as the mothers. We were on holiday just before it happened. All you can think is: It could have been us."

Of all the dangers the McCanns might have feared for their children - scraped knees at the swings, the hazard of a speeding car or a bully in the playground, they could not have thought of this.

THAT someone would want to take their daughter enough to violently lever open windows and smother her cries. A girl in Marks & Spencer pyjamas innocently asleep in her bed.

Tonight at 6.30pm, some of the villagers will send their prayers to Madeleine at a 14-hour vigil at St Teresa's in Birstall, the sister church to Sacred Heart where the McCanns go to church. Others will come again to the memorial to stand among the toys and ribbons.

Today, Rothley takes its solace in remembering the Madeleine it knew. An adorable girl with a big smile who was due to start school later this year. The daughter of the friendly cardiologist and the clever lady doctor. A child so desperately wanted that they had IVF to conceive her.

In yesterday's dripping rain, the heat of the Algarve seemed a long way away. The McCanns' pain is in a foreign country. And every parent in Rothley goes to bed thinking the same thing: there but by the grace of God
To my critics
When I'm in a sober mood, I worry, work and think,
When I'm in a drunken mood, I gamble, play and drink,
But when my moods are over and my time has come to pass,
I hope I'm buried upside down, so the world may kiss my ar*e
User avatar
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Re: Daily Mirror Articles

Postby bjr » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:29 pm

BECKS PLEA FOR MADELEINE
By Rebecca Evans12/05/2007
Beckham joins appeals for Madeleine
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(What's this?)DAVID Beckham made an impassioned plea for the safe return of missing Madeleine as other footballers kept up their appeals for information yesterday.

Ex-England captain Becks held up her missing person poster on TV in Spain and said: "Last week a little girl called Madeleine was taken from her hotel room in the Algarve.

"We need to do everything possible to help the police with their inquiries in finding her.

"If you have seen this little girl then please can you go to your local authority or police and give any genuine information that you have. Please, PLEASE help us. Thank you."

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Becks, who will soon move to LA, is just one the top footballers who have highlighted the McCann family's plight.

Earlier this week, Madeira-born Manchester United ace Cristiano Ronaldo appealed in English and Portuguese while Chelsea stalwarts John Terry and Paolo Ferreira also spoke out. And yesterday Portuguese players from Madeleine's favourite club Everton joined in, with Nuno Valente and Manuel Fernandes going on TV with club captain Phil Neville.

Defender Valente has strong connections to the Algarve, having begun his career at Portimonense, only 20 miles from Praia da Luz.

He appealed in his native language: "I was distressed to hear Madeleine was seized on the Algarve. It is very worrying for all her family and I ask anyone who has new information to come forward to the police." Meanwhile, Celtic captain Neil Lennon revealed his team and Aberdeen's players will wear yellow ribbons during their match today "to show she is in all our thoughts on her birthday".

He added: "We can't imagine the horror the family are going through at the minute."
To my critics
When I'm in a sober mood, I worry, work and think,
When I'm in a drunken mood, I gamble, play and drink,
But when my moods are over and my time has come to pass,
I hope I'm buried upside down, so the world may kiss my ar*e
User avatar
bjr
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Posts: 4181
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2007 2:10 pm
Location: 3rd Cesspit from left of Rothley Towers

Re: Daily Mirror Articles

Postby bjr » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:30 pm

SO WHAT IS A PARENT TO DO?
Fiona Phillips 12/05/2007
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News picturesTWO mums confided to me this week that their children had "incidents" on holiday after being left in kids' clubs.

I won't go into the cases for privacy reasons, but both involved childcare workers acting in an inappropriate way. It has affected family holidays and both mums blame themselves for leaving their children with strangers.

So to all the smug, judgmental parents who have questioned why Kate and Gerry McCann did not make use of the Mark Warner resort creche facilities, or employ babysitters for little Madeleine and her brother and sister while they ate in a restaurant just yards away - it could have happened to any of you.

I have no doubt that Mark Warner staff are perfectly professional, but as parents we do what we think is right for our children. And if the McCanns thought it was better to leave theirs sleeping in an apartment in a holiday resort chosen for its child-friendliness rather than placing a stranger in the same room as their precious toddlers, who's to say they're wrong?

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Kate's mum Susan says: "You make a decision and think it's OK. This time it wasn't and Kate and Gerry must live with that."

The fact is, on holiday, away from the stresses and strains of daily life, and especially in a resort renowned for family holidays, we'd all be lulled into a sense that nothing can harm us.

We do things we might not do at home - there's no way the McCanns would have left their tots sleeping in their bedrooms while they went to the local restaurant back in Leicestershire.

We often left ours sleeping upstairs in a hotel room while we dined downstairs until one night, when they were two and five, we were told they were running up and down the landing screaming and calling for Mummy.

I have never felt so wretched - seeing two tear-stained faces looking questioningly at me as if to say "Why did you leave us?" is an image that has stayed with me.

Now we take them with us or leave them with babysitters - babysitters who are sometimes male, often complete strangers whose credentials we don't check.

What are we to do? Not go out on our own? Not go on holiday? Or trust that our faith in human kindness will prevail? In the end that's all we can do.
To my critics
When I'm in a sober mood, I worry, work and think,
When I'm in a drunken mood, I gamble, play and drink,
But when my moods are over and my time has come to pass,
I hope I'm buried upside down, so the world may kiss my ar*e
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