Kate and Gerry McCann meeting with Pope Benedict May 30th after being flown in on their billionaire friend Sir Philip Green’s private jet.
Telegraph | Sep 11, 2007
By Gordon Rayner, Caroline Gammell and Nick Britten
DNA samples that are a “100 per cent match” to Madeleine McCann have been found in her parents’ hire car and holiday apartment, it has been claimed.
Sources close to the case said the traces – understood to be blood – were being treated by Portuguese detectives as strong evidence that Madeleine died in the apartment before her body was placed in the car.
Police in the Algarve apparently now believe they have enough evidence to charge her parents, Kate and Gerry, with “accidentally” killing the four-year-old and hiding her body. A file on the case will today be sent to a prosecutor who could order the couple to return to Portugal to face charges this week.
The McCanns, who were named last week as official suspects in the case, have claimed that they were being “framed” over their daughter’s disappearance 131 days ago.
But a source close to the Portuguese investigation said that the prevailing mood among detectives was that: “The parents have a lot of explaining to do.”
The source claimed that two DNA samples found in the McCanns’ hire car – one apparently a full match to Madeleine and one partial – were of a type that suggested they had come directly from her body, rather than from clothes she had worn.
The development came as:
– Social workers and police met to discuss the welfare of the McCanns’ two-year-old twins, who could be placed on an “at-risk” register.
– Police in Praia da Luz were preparing to search the villa where the McCanns had been staying until Sunday.
– Kate McCann faced fresh slurs in the Portuguese media, with claims that she was aggressive towards her children and sometimes “out of control”.
– The McCanns were given police advice on how to deal with hate mail after a backlash against them gathered pace in Britain.
The McCanns have vowed to fight to clear their names, and hired two of the country’s leading solicitors, Michael Caplan QC and Angus McBride, to advise them.
Sources close to the investigation revealed that the DNA evidence – analysed by the Forensic Science Service in Britain – was regarded by Portuguese police as crucial.
A sample that was a full match to Madeleine’s DNA was allegedly found on the windowsill of the McCanns’ apartment at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz. Although the nature of the sample was not disclosed, previous reports claimed that blood had been found by sniffer dogs.
One Portuguese newspaper claimed that “biological fluids” with an 80 per cent match to Madeleine were found under the carpet in the boot of the McCanns’ hire car, which was rented 25 days after she disappeared.
Forensic experts in the UK have pointed out that if the samples found in the car were hair or skin they would be of little evidential value as they could have rubbed off Madeleine’s toys or clothing.
But there were fresh reports claiming that both samples were blood, and one source close to the inquiry told The Daily Telegraph that the nature of the samples led police to believe that they had come from Madeleine’s body being placed in the car.
The Portuguese police’s theory is apparently that Madeleine was killed by accident by one or both of her parents, and that her body was hidden before being disposed of a month later using the hire car.
The McCanns have reacted with fury to the claims, accusing the police of a “stitch-up” and pointing out that they could not have moved a body when the eyes of the world were constantly upon them in the weeks after Madeleine’s disappearance.
Their distress was heightened when it emerged that Leicestershire’s child protection team met to discuss the welfare of their two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie, who could be placed on an “at-risk” register if they were considered to be vulnerable.
Social workers were expected to visit the family home in the village of Rothley this week to assess whether the children were being cared for properly and whether they had been in any way traumatised by the events of the past four months.
Child welfare experts said social services were obliged to investigate any case where parents were suspected by police of harming their children, and that placing the twins in foster care could become an option if the McCanns were charged or forced to return to Portugal for long periods.
Police in Portimao were expected to hand over a file on the case to a senior prosecutor, who would decide whether to bring charges or order further inquiries.
Officers were poised to search the villa that the McCanns had been renting for the past three months, and which they vacated on Sunday when they flew back to Britain for the first time since Madeleine’s disappearance.
The couple have been subjected to constant smears in the Portuguese press, but there is also evidence that public sympathy in the UK may be on the wane.
Police confirmed an officer had discussed “security issues” with the McCanns amid fears that they would receive hate mail, and a BBC Radio 5 Live phone-in debate on the subject of “do you support the McCanns” was abandoned after a large number of messages condemning them were followed by demands from listeners that an ongoing police investigation should not be the subject of a radio phone-in.