08 - JAN 03 - déferlante Smith
Irish family's Maddie quiz
03 Jan 2008
PRIVATE detectives hunting for Madeleine McCann are to quiz an Irish family who may have been the last to see her alive.
Martin Smith, his wife and children told cops they saw a man carrying a little blonde girl in Praia da Luz on the night Maddie vanished.
Investigators from the Metodo 3 agency hired by Maddie's parents Gerry and Kate are preparing to travel to Ireland to interview them.
The family, from Drogheda, Co Louth, believe they saw the man taking the sleeping tot down to the beach at the Portuguese resort.
The Smiths were leaving Kelly's Bar — 400 metres from the McCanns' apartment — between 9.50 and 10pm on May 3 last year.
They flew home to Ireland the next day, but when the times of Maddie's abduction were revealed, the family remembered seeing a man, 5ft 7in to 5ft 9in tall and dressed in beige, carrying the child.
Significantly the description matches that given by Jane Tanner, 37, a friend of the McCanns.
Mr Smith, who has already spoken to Portuguese cops over the sighting, said yesterday: "I'd talk to anyone to move this investigation on. I think about Maddie every day."
He added: "I found the Portuguese cops not to be the most efficient bunch."
His wife Mary, 59, said: "We saw a man carrying a blonde child. It was just such a normal thing to see in a holiday resort — we didn't think anything of it at the time."
The Sun reported on Monday how Metodo 3 — which is costing the Find Madeleine Fund £300,000 — plan to blitz Morocco after several leads pointed to the country.
Maddy: We saw abduction
03 January 2008
A family who may have seen Madeleine McCann being abducted could provide vital evidence in the search for the missing four-year-old.
The group saw a man walking towards the beach in Praia da Luz while carrying a child at the time Madeleine vanished, exactly eight months ago.
Portuguese police have taken statements from the family, who live in Drogheda, Ireland.
Now detectives hired by Madeleine's parents want to speak to Martin Smith and his family. The Smiths were leaving Kelly's Bar just before 10pm when they saw a man carrying a child 500 yards from the McCanns' apartment.
Kate McCann, 39, raised the alarm about her missing daughter at around 10pm.
The Smiths are thought to have described the man as white and 5ft 7in to 5ft 9in tall. His top clothing was obscured by the child. That description matches a suspect seen walking away from the apartment at about 9.15pm by Jane Tanner, a member of the "Tapas Seven" group of friends who were on holiday with the McCanns.
She saw a man carrying a child wearing pink pyjamas similar to those worn by Madeleine.
The McCanns' spokesman said yesterday: "Our detectives are being very methodical and I am quite sure that this family will be on their list."
The eight-month deadline means suspect Robert Murat, 34, hopes to be formally cleared today.
Maddie: Irishman provides dramatic new clues Daily Mail
(appeared in paper edition only)
EXCLUSIVE: Tourist met rude man carrying child in blanket on night Madeleine vanished
January 3, 2008
AN IRISH holidaymaker has spoken publicly for the first time of his disturbing encounter with a man carrying a child wrapped in a blanket on the night Madeleine McCann disappeared.
Now investigators hired by Madeleine's parents hope Martin Smith and his family can provide a crucial breakthrough.
Speaking from his home in Drogheda, Co. Louth, Mr Smith recalled the sighting, which is strikingly similar to one by a friend of the McCanns, Jane Tanner. In hindsight, the retired Mr Smith said, the mans rude behaviour should have aroused his suspicions.
He explained: "The one thing we noted afterwards was that he gave us no greeting.
"My wife Mary remembered afterwards that she asked him, 'Oh, is she asleep?' But he never acknowledged her one way or another.
"He just put his head down and averted his eyes. This is very unusual in a tourist town at such a quiet time of the year."
Their description of the barefoot child and the man, who wore beige trousers, echoes that of Miss Tanner, who said she saw a man carrying a sleeping child away from the McCanns apartment about 9.15pm.
Though the Smith family believe they met an almost identical man closer to 10pm, the coincidence prompted them to contact police after they returned to Ireland. Mr Smith said: "Luz is such a small place and so quiet, we felt a duty to tell police and let them decide if it was important."
Last night, McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said detectives from the Spanish agency Metodo 3 now hoped to speak to the family. "Metodo 3 is being very methodical, working through a number of people they think might be able to help them, and this family will be on their list."
On the night of the disappearance, Mr Smith was dining with his wife in the Dolphin restaurant in Praia Da Luz, where they are frequent visitors.
The couple were with their daughter Aoife, their son Peter and his wife Sile,as well as four grandchildren Tadhg, Cole, Aisling and Eimear.
All nine met the man holding a child but their recollection differs slightly from Miss Tanner's.
"In the image she gave, the man was holding the child forward in his arms. The man we saw had put the child over his shoulders. But Luz was very, very quiet at that time of the year and the likelihood of two young children being carried around like this is very small.
"Also, our timings are a bit different. She saw the man at 9.15pm. We say 9.45or 9.50pm and the sighting was only a five-minute walk from where the child was staying.
"I dont know if this information will help the McCanns. We kept interested in whats going on but we tried to avoid the limelight."
The father of six yesterday said the Irish family would do anything they could to help the McCanns find their missing daughter.
"We have not been contacted by the private detective hired by the McCanns, and have had no contact with the investigating police since May 26 last year.
"But anything we can do to help try to solve it, we will." Recalling the event she witnessed, Mr Smith said it was some time before the family realised they could be star witnesses
"We were out the night it happened. My son and his family were leaving on the Friday and we were going for a family meal. We went home about 9.50pm and we heard nothing at all about Madeleine McCann until the next day.
"I was taking my son Peter to the airport and on my way back, I heard that a kidnapping had happened in the village of Luz.
"We were looking at all the commotion on Sky News and we really felt quite helpless.
"We had two grandchildren with us at the time, aged four and five, and it had a terrible effect on them.
"They all wanted to sleep in the same room as us until we went home on the Wednesday.
"We were home two weeks when my son rang up and asked was he dreaming or did we meet a man carrying a child the night Madeleine was taken. We all remembered that we had the same recollection. I felt we should report it to the police.
"I rang the Portuguese police and they took a statement from me on the phone.Then they asked me to make a statement to gardai, which I did in Drogheda two weeks after the disappearance.
"Two days later, Leicestershire police got on to us and said they wanted to speak to all nine of us. But we felt there was no point dragging grand children and the whole lot out to Portugal so just my eldest son, Peter, and youngest daughter, Aoife, and I flew to Luz to make a statement.
"The police were fairly busy and the station was pretty typical. They didnt seem to be the most efficient police you ever came across but they are probably no different to police anywhere else. We were interviewed separately and told them what we saw, and showed them on the map where we met the man and child.
"We spent the whole day there from 10.30am to 7pm with an interpreter. That day, May 26 last year, was the last time we had any contact with the investigation.I remember clearly because it was my wedding anniversary.
"I told them we went for dinner at the Dolphin Restaurant and then went on to have just one drink in Kelly's bar, just 50 yards away.
"We would normally have stayed out longer but my son and his family were going home the next day.
"As we made our way back to our apartment in Estrella da Luz, we met a guy with a child that appeared to be asleep.
"It looked like a blonde child, and I thought she might be four years old, as she was the same size as my grandchild who was with us.
"It was around 9.55pm and it was getting dark and he was looking downward so I couldnt tell you exactly what he looked like.
"None of us was 100 per cent sure what he was wearing but we all told police he was wearing beige trousers and a darker top. We all put him in his early 40s. I didnt think he was Portuguese." Insisting he knew chief suspect Robert Murat visually for years, Mr Smith told police the person he saw carrying a child could not be him.
"I told police it was definitely not him because the man wasn't as big as Murat. I think I would have definitely recognised him."
Irish tourist clears Murat,
Sky News04 January 2008
(Same article later republished with new headline: 'Missing Madeleine McCann: Irish Witness 'Clears' Murat', 12:00pm UK, Monday April 07, 2008 )
An Irish tourist who saw someone carrying a child in a blanket on the night Madeleine McCann disappeared insists that the mystery man was not Robert Murat.
Martin Smith, from Drogheda in Co Louth, was on holiday in Praia Da Luz with his family when they bumped into the man just before 10pm on May 3 last year.
The Smith family's suspicions were aroused because the man made no response when they asked if the barefoot child was asleep.
"He just put his head down and averted his eyes, which is very unusual in a tourist town at such a quiet time of the year," said Mr Smith.
Initially the Smith family thought nothing more of the encounter - and even the next day when the story broke they still didn't make the connection.
"We were home two weeks when my son rang me up and asked was he dreaming or did we meet a man carrying a child the night Madeleine was taken," said Mr Smith.
"We all remembered the same recollection, and I felt we should report it to the police.
"We've all been beating ourselves up that we should have made the link sooner, if only we'd remembered the next day. But the Portuguese police said you see these things on holiday all the time."
The Smiths did contact the Portuguese police once they had returned to Ireland, but say they have had no contact with the officers investigating the case since May last year.
"I rang the Portuguese police and they took a statement from me on the phone," said Mr Smith.
They asked me to make a statement to the Gardai, which I did, and two days later Leicestershire police got on to us.
"My eldest son, Peter, my youngest daughter, Aoife, and I then flew to Luz to make a statement. They didn't seem to be the most efficient police you ever came across - and that was the last time we had any contact with the investigation.
"I don't know if this information will help the McCanns, but anything we can do to help try to solve it, we will.
"We were looking at all the commotion on Sky News and we really felt quite helpless. We had two grandchildren with us at the time and it had a terrible effect on them - they all wanted to sleep in the same room as us."
But Mr Smith is certain that the man he and his family saw that night was not Robert Murat, who is still officially an "arguido" in the Madeleine McCann investigation.
"I told police it was definitely not him because the man wasn't as big as Murat - I think I would have recognised him because I'd met him several times previously.
He was wearing beige trousers and a darker top. We all put him in his early 40s and I didn't think he was Portuguese."
Mr Smith's sighting is similar to the one reported by Jane Tanner, a friend of the McCann family.
A spokesman for the McCanns said detectives from the Spanish agency hired to investigate the case are now hoping to speak to the Smiths.
Retired Mr Smith, 58, does not wish to appear on camera in order to protect his family from media intrusion.
Local family's anguish over 'Maddy' sighting
Local family's anguish over 'Maddy' sighting Drogheda Independent
Wednesday January 09 2008
Madeleine (4) vanished on May 3rd last while her family were on holiday in the Portuguese resort of Praia Da Luz.
The Drogheda family, who first spoke to the Drogheda Indpendent last August, say despite current media reports that they will be contacted by the detective agency hired by parents Gerry and Kate McCann to find the missing toddler, no one has been in contact with them. 'We are willing to talk to anyone but our information is vague. It cuts us up that we can't be of more help but what we saw is not going to crack the case,' Peter Smith told the Drogheda Independent.
The Drogheda family, Peter, his wife Sheila and their two children Tadgh (13) and Cole (6), along with grandparents Martin and Mary Smith, were holidaying in the same resort at the time of Madeleine's disappearance.
Returning from a night out the family saw a sleeping child in the arms of a man, on the night the toddler was taken from her parents apartment. 'It was our last night. We left the restaurant early because my wife, who was expecting our third child at the time was feeling unwell. On the way back to our apartment we saw a man walking down towards the beach with a child in his arms. It's a common enough sight in a holiday resort and we didn't think much of it. In fact it was only after we were home two weeks that I remembered seeing him. At the time my attention was focused on looking after my wife,' Peter, who lives in Greenhills, explained. 'When I mentioned it, it jogged my father's memory and he too remembered seeing the same man,' Peter added.
The family made a statement to the Gardaí who then contacted the Portuguese police. 'About three to four weeks after Madeleine disappeared we travelled back to Portugal and gave a description of the man in a statement to the police there,' said Peter.
Since then the family have heard nothing, from either the Portuguese police or the detectives agency Metodo 3, hired by her family to find Madeleine. 'We knew that what we had seen was so vague that we couldn't identify the guy. However we are willing to help in any way that we can if we are contacted,' the Drogheda man stressed.