13 Oct 2013

Madeleine: Police timeline of critical 90 minutes changes

New research has “significantly changed” what the police believe happened the night three-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared in Portugal, opening new lines of investigation.

Scotland Yard believe they have a new lead after reanalysing the timeline of her disappearance on 3 May 2007.

On Sunday night the police will also release pictures of men seen in the Portuguese town of Praia da Luz at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance. The pictures will be shown on BBC Crimewatch as part of an appeal to identify the men.

The show also features a clip of Madeleine on the day of her disappearance, playing with tennis balls at the resort.

Drawing it back to zero

“What we sought to do is try and draw everything back to zero,” said Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood. “Try and take everything back to the beginning and re-analyse and reassess everything, accepting nothing.

“The careful and critical analysis of the timeline has been absolutely key. Primarily, we’re focused on the area between 8.30pm and 10pm.

“We know at 8.30pm that was the time Mr and Mrs McCann went down to the tapas area for their dinner and we know that around at 10pm that was when Mrs McCann found that Madeleine was missing.”

“The timeline we have now established has given new significance to sightings and movements of people in and around Praia da Luz at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance.

“Our work to date has significantly changed the timeline and the accepted version of events that has been in the public domain to date.

The new information has allowed for a new information appeal on very specific points, said Inspector Redwood.

Holland and Germany

The Met police will also launch an appeal in Holland and Germany over the next few days.

Scotland Yard detectives, who have interviewed 442 people as part of their review-turned-investigation, hope to track down as many people present in the Portuguese town at the time. Since launching, 41 people of interest have been identified including 15 UK nationals.

Detectives have issued 31 international letters of request (ILOR) to mostly European countries in relation to some of the persons of interest as well as accessing phone records.

A large but “manageable” list of phone numbers identified as being present in Praia da Luz – though not necessarily used to make phone calls – has been drawn up by detectives with a “significant” number unattributed to any named person.