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‘Clear grounds for the prosecution of
Kate & Gerry McCann’
What REALLY happened the night Madeleine McCann disappeared as nanny breaks her 10-year silence
The former child minder said she is still haunted by the image of dad Gerry desperately trying to find their missing daughter while she tried to comfort weeping mum Kate
A nanny who looked after Madeleine McCann has told how the youngster’s parents were plunged into despair and panic when the horrifying truth she had vanished sank in.
The former child minder said she is still haunted by the image of dad Gerry desperately trying to find their missing daughter while she tried to comfort weeping mum Kate who cried: “They’ve taken her.”
Breaking her silence after 10 years, the witness also claimed the resort from which Madeleine vanished was considered so unsafe nannies were handed rape alarms and told to not go out alone.
And she slammed the Portuguese police’s handling of the disappearance, insisting their blundering scuppered any chances of finding who had snatched three-year-old Madeleine.
Speaking of that dreadful night in May 2007, the ex-nanny –who looked after the girl several times – said: “A parent came to me and said there was something going on, and said someone’s looking for a child, I didn’t instantly think it was Maddie.
“I don’t even think she saw me. I just stood next to her and tried to comfort her.
“She was pacing up and down. The worst possible thing had just happened to her.
“I think I said something like, ‘She’ll be found, these things happen all the time.’
“She was crying, but almost in a catatonic state, and Gerry was very distressed. That’s the one thing I really remember from him, looking under the cars. I can’t forget that.
“We were told to start looking in bins in case her body was in there. It was at that point we realised this was serious.”
Along with other staff, the ex-carer, who worked for travel firm Mark Warner at the the Ocean Club resort, sifted by hand in the dark through industrial-sized bins and piping leading into the sea in their hunt for Madeleine.
They also walked Praia da Luz’s small, winding streets searching for the missing girl until they were told, against their wills at 5am, that it was time for bed.
But the woman, who we are not naming, said she is still furious with local police , who she claimed took 90 minutes to arrive on the scene.
And she told how people were in and out of the apartment where Madeleine vanished from – contaminating a potential crime scene.
The former nanny added: “I know I didn’t step into that apartment but pretty much everybody else did. So, evidence gone, nothing. There was nobody there to say, ‘We need to lock this off now.’
“The police didn’t get there for ages, maybe an hour and a half, so we were looking for her.
“And at the end of the day, no matter how much you’ve been trained with children, we were children, mainly teenagers, we’re not police.
“That’s why police were trying to get everyone’s timelines, because they weren’t there.”
She also told how she was interviewed by officers in the wake of Madeleine’s disappearance and later detectives from the Met’s Operation Grange handed her two pages of statements they had retrieved from their Algarve compratiots.
Her original statement was four to five pages long, but the one the Portuguese had been working from was only two pages long – missing a number of details from her interview.
The woman claimed “whole chunks of information were missed out”.Kate McCann speaks during charity fundraiser in midst of court battle
She added: “I think a lot of things should’ve happened differently. Unfortunately the effects were catastrophic.”
And the carer told how she was astonished Kate and Gerry were ever deemed suspects in their own child’s disappearance.
She is still constantly quizzed by people about the case who ask if “the parents did it”.
She said: “I tell them no, there’s no way at all. A, timings and B, where it was, their reactions, the whole thing. Not a chance.”
The woman also told how Madeleine was a favourite among the child minders. Her allocated nanny was Catriona Baker, but others also got the chance to look after her.
The carer added: “I remember her character and temperament. She was slightly shy, very sweet. Not loud or precocious.
“We obviously give the same care to all the children, but she was a real cutie and a real sweetheart. If you asked her, ‘Can you just pass me that?’ She’d be like, ‘Sure.’
“She was easy for us, and you were happy to sit and help out this pretty little girl who’s really nice.”
While the Ocean Club was clearly popular with British holidaymakers like the McCanns, from Rothley, Leics, the former child minder claimed it was considered an unsafe place for those who worked there.
After she arrived she was stunned when a fellow nanny passed on a message from hotel staff to never venture off the site alone.
She added: “I just couldn’t get over how different it was to other Mark Warner resorts.
“We were told, ‘Here’s a rape whistle, don’t go anywhere by yourself, ever.’ There’d been a girl attacked the year or so before in Praia da Luz. It didn’t sound like a family resort to me.
“I just got the feeling the locals didn’t want us there.”
It emerged in 2014 that 11 years earlier a 10-year-old British girl had been sexually assaulted “in the heart” of Praia da Luz.
The victim came forward three years ago after a Scotland Yard appeal revealed a string of potentially linked sex assaults on young UK girls across the Algarve between 2004 and 2006.
Mark Warner, which operates in resorts all over the world, quit Praia da Luz in 2015.
Madeleine vanished as her parents ate with friends at a tapas bar just 40 yards from where she slept next to twin siblings, Amelie and Sean.
But the former nanny, who couldn’t face child minding again after the Algarve horror, said dining while kids were in the apartments was “really normal” in such resorts.
And she insisted there was no evidence Kate and Gerry would ever neglect their kids.
She said: “I remember thinking, even before I knew them, how they were the picture perfect family.”
Asked if she thinks Madeleine is still alive, the woman said: “Think possibly is the wrong word, but hope. I hope she is still alive.
“It’s probably very naive, but the best case scenario of a very horrible situation, is that she was procured and taken for a rich person who didn’t have children.
“I can’t go anywhere else in my head. I can read it about other people and know how horrible that seedy world is where children are sold. But my brain won’t go there with her. I just switch off.
“But I think the only person who knows exactly what happened is Madeleine. Can I believe it’s 10 years on? Yes and no.
Crimewatch – Madeleine McCann Reconstruction
No because 10 years seems like a really long time, she’d be nearly 14.
“And yes, because sometimes, when I talk about it, it feels like I’m right back there again.
“I wonder if she’s alive. Does she even remember? Does she remember her parents?
“I’m probably less harrowed by it now, but that’s just because, although it’s awful, it’s become accepted.
“‘It’s Madeleine, she’s gone missing but it would just be the best day ever if I could be told that she’s been found.”
Operation Grange, which was last month given £85,000 of Home Office funding to extend its probe until September, still speaks to witnesses.
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