Monday, 9 May 2011

Kate McCann: "Did they expect me to confess to a crime they had made up?"

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Now, there's a great deal I could say about Kate McCann's book, which will be released on May 12th, extracts of which are being published in The Sun, but today's offering is as good a place to start as any.

Kate McCann describes in her book how the police, via their lawyer, Carlos Pinto de Abreu, had offered a deal.

If we, or rather I, admitted that Madeleine had died in an accident in the apartment, and confessed to having hidden and disposed of her body, the sentence I'd receive would be much more lenient: only two years, he said, as opposed to what I'd be looking at if I ended up being charged with homicide.

So, that, according to Kate McCann, was the deal: confess and we'll go easy on you. And what was her response?

Pardon? I really wasn't sure I could possibly have heard him correctly. My incredulity turned to rage. How dare they suggest I lie? How dare they expect me to live with such a charge against my name?

And even more importantly, did they really expect me to confess to a crime they had made up, to falsely claim to the whole world that my daughter was dead, when the result would be that the whole world stopped looking for her?

Well, first of all the ignominy of having such a charge against her name. Not, "I would never have harmed my daughter and I'm not going to confess to having done so. I'm going to look for her with every last breath in my body." Her good name!

And what might the result be? That the whole world would stop looking for Madeleine. Note: not that Kate McCann would therefore not be able to look for her child, but everyone else might stop. Somebody else can do it! The world's press can keep Madeleine's name in the public's attention. Why keep a dog and bark yourself?

There's going to be a riot when news of all this reaches people back in the UK.

Why should there be a riot? They're not Posh and Becks! No, no rioting in the streets! Just pictures of Kate and Gerry hot-footing it out of Portugal with uncommon haste!

There's no way our government will stand for this. (Four months down the line and still so naive!)
Now, why should the UK government stand for or not stand for the work of the police of another sovereign nation? Why should the government intercede on behalf of the McCanns?

Then we come to dem doggies!

I knew exactly where this line of questioning was going and as much as it riled me, I refused to rise to it. Now Ricardo was giving me his spiel about the dogs. "These dogs have a 100 per cent success rate," he said, waving an A4 document in front of me.

"Two hundred cases and they've never failed. We have gone to the best laboratory in the world using low-copy DNA techniques."

His emphasis suggested this was the gold standard. I just stared at him, unable to hide my contempt. These dogs had never been used in Portugal before, and he knew little more about them than I did.
So, what did it matter that the dogs had never been used in Portugal? And at that point how did Kate McCann know that? He knew little more about them than she did? I very much doubt that, but we must read on to find out exactly how little Kate McCann knew about those dogs, exactly how little she managed to find out even given that there is so much information readily available on the internet.

The dogs in apartment 5A, according to Kate McCann:

Each dog ran around the apartment, jumping over beds, into the wardrobe, generally having a good sniff.

At one point, the handler directed the dogs to a spot behind the couch in the sitting room, close to the curtains. He called the dogs over to him to investigate this site.

The dogs ultimately "alerted". I felt myself relax a little. This was not what I'd call an exact science. In footage of the apartment next door to ours, one of the dogs began to root in the corner of a room near a piece of furniture.

And the vehicle which was hired some time after Madeleine disappeared?

The film show continued. Now we were in an underground garage where eight or so cars were parked, including our rented Renault Scenic.

It was hard to miss: the windows were plastered with pictures of Madeleine. In medicine we would call this an "unblinded" study, one that is susceptible to bias.

One of the dogs ran straight past our car, nose in the air, heading towards the next vehicle.

The handler stopped next to the Renault and called the dog. It obeyed; returning to him, but then ran off again. Staying by the car, PC Grime instructed the dog to come back several times and directed it to certain parts of the vehicle before it eventually supplied an alert by barking.
Neither of those descriptions from Kate McCann is accurate, as can be seen from actual footage of the dogs with the vehicle and in the apartment.

In the underground car park.

As can be seen very clearly, Martin Grime drew Eddie's attention to each of the vehicles in turn, bringing him back to sniff. It wasn't just to the McCann's vehicle.

Eddie and Keela in apartment 5A. Video from Duarte Levy.*

Note that Martin Grime allows Eddie to run around the apartment and then directs him to specific areas, none of which Eddie pays particular attention to. When Eddie 'alerts,' in the wardrobe at 4.00, Martin Brime is actually standing back, not giving any direction.

After being directed very clearly to very specific areas, when Eddie jumps onto the sofa, he nearly disappears behind it: from 6.00. So, the sofa was not particularly chosen, not indicated for attention any more than all the other areas that Grime drew Eddie's attention to.

When researching the validity of sniffer-dog evidence later, Gerry would discover that false alerts can be attributable to the conscious or unconscious signals of the handler. We would later learn that in his written report, PC Grime had emphasised that such alerts cannot be relied upon without corroborating evidence.
'The conscious or unconscious signals of the handler.' In over 200 successful cases? Well, either Martin Grime had information about those cases that meant there was no need for the dogs: just let Martin Grime have a good sniff! He's cheaper to hire than the dogs anyway! Or Grime is psychic!

Now this part of Kate McCann's writing about the dogs is very significant, as far as I am concerned.

As we now know, the chemicals believed to create the "odour of death", putrescence and cadaverine, last no longer than 30 days. There were no decaying body parts for the dog to find. It was simply wrong.
Now, I ask myself, why should any timescale be important? Kate McCann is wrong, by the way, as she would have found out by doing some very easy searching on Google. I'll post links at the end to good information about the length of time in which a cadaver dog can still detect the odour, but I'll leave that for now and just focus on this 30 days issue. (See Addendum)

Why is it important? Why would it matter at all if Kate McCann knew that while she and her husband had the vehicle no dead body, or anything that had come into contact with a dead body, had been transported in the vehicle?

Has Kate McCann inadvertently given something away here? Does it matter because it was more than 30 days since a dead body had been in the vehicle? Did it matter because after 30 days 'There were no decaying body parts for the dog to find.'? Because it was, in fact, more than 30 days since there had been 'decaying body parts,' in the vehicle, so therefore there were none and the dogs were wrong?


Kate: They've got us bang to rights, Gerry. Those dogs are spot on every time.

Gerry: No, we're in the clear. The odour only lasts for 30 days. Look at the calender!

Why the need to find out what the time period was in which a cadaver dog could still detect the odour? It was a fairly new vehicle and no one had died in it or been transported dead in it previously. So, why 30 days?

As I said, why does the timescale matter if Kate McCann knew, that as far as she and her husband were concerned, there had been no dead body in the vehicle while it was in their possession?

Can we assume a 'therefore,' between, 'As we now know, the chemicals believed to create the "odour of death", putrescence and cadaverine, last no longer than 30 days.' and 'There were no decaying body parts for the dog to find. It was simply wrong.'

Something to ponder? Aye!



Residual scent in buildings:

The case of Jean Zapata.

Jean disappeared in 1976. Friends never believed that she had abandoned her young daughter. In 2005, the case was re-opened and cadaver dogs were brought in.

Madison Police Officer Carren Corcoran has trained and handled cadaver dogs for the last ten years.

It's hard to imagine that a dog can detect something from 30 years in a basement. How is that possible?" Schlesinger asks.
"I think that an entire body decomposing, possibly early on and in a space like the crawlspace, which was really [a] primo environment to contain scent. There's no wind. There's no rain. The temperature stays about the same all the time," Corcoran explains.

On Jan. 6, 2005, Statz, Corcoran and Cleo the cadaver dog went to work in the crawlspace. "Right away she started really working and working, and working the area of both outside the crawlspace, and into the crawlspace. And then she eventually provided a formal indication, which is a bark for Cleo," Corcoran remembers.

Then, a second dog reacted the same way. Police started excavating the crawlspace.

"We found some hairs. We collected bug carcasses and a Burger King cup. We found things. But we did not find anything that we could tie to Jeanette Zapata," Statz says.

Jean's husband, Eugene confessed to her killing.

CBS News