Quand David Canter se joignit à quatre experts en octobre 2007 pour une brève enquête de terrain, il avait en fait déjà une idée en tête.
Why patterns of the past point to abduction by a stranger as most likely explanation.
22 September 2007 - The Times
|Gravure de Daniel Hopfer|
(1) Pourquoi vois-tu la paille qui est dans l'œil de ton frère et n'aperçois-tu pas la poutre qui est dans ton œil à toi ? Luc 6, 41 (2) Cet article n'est pas le premier écrit par David Canter (où sont-ils ?), mais il n'en écrivit pas d'autre, hormis celui qui suit et bien que l'information petit à petit ait fait son chemin. Peut-être que David Canter croit dur comme fer que l'on n'est bien servi que par soi-même. (3) Est-il raisonnable de comparer cette disparition avec des enlèvements d'enfants dans d'autres pays ? Si on compare l'affaire MC à l'affaire Lindbergh en se fondant sur la fenêtre trouvée ouverte, une énorme différence surgit : demande de rançon dans le premier cas, aucun message dans le second. Si on compare l'affaire avec l'affaire de Road Hill qui a en commun une fenêtre trouvée ouverte, une difficulté surgit : la fenêtre de Road Hill ne s'ouvrait que de l'intérieur.
(4) Malheureusement DC n'indique pas de référence. Les statistiques disponibles ne disent pas la même chose.
DC fait ici exactement ce qu'il reproche en particulier à la PJ : se former une opinion et faire en sorte que les faits s'adaptent à elle, tout ce qui dépasse étant coupé. Il est en train de dire que
les MC et leurs compagnons n'ont ni le passé ni les manières de médecins
psychopathes, il est donc "exotique" et "invraisemblable" d'appliquer
ce qu'il vient de recommander comme le principe de base : commencer par
l'examen des proches de l'enfant disparu. Pour donner plus de corps à sa harangue, il fait de la
disparition un "crime haineux" que seul pourrait inspirer le "mal",
moyennant quoi il peut se permettre de "donner le bon dieu sans
confession" aux si insignifiants MC.
(6) Il y a des mois que la planète sait que la porte-fenêtre était entrouverte.
(7) Sur cette question au moins DC changera d'avis après être venu à PDL : Why
risk being caught in a quite middle-class holiday resort?
(8) Le procureur général de la république l'a remarqué aussi et a dit tout haut ce que certains ont pensé prudemment tout bas. La question demeure toutefois de savoir si ce fut une bévue ou un calcul, et pas un si mauvais calcul que ça.
(9) Peut-être à malin, malin et demi. Qui sait ?
It is time to discard the myths and half-truths, Madeleine McCann was taken
18.10. 2007 - The Sunday Times
Five months after her disappearance, we are no further towards knowing exactly what happened to Madeleine McCann and we may never know the truth. However, after spending many days in Praia da Luz while making a Dispatches documentary about the case, I have come to the conclusion that the greatest likelihood is that she was abducted, and probably by a local person. There are a number of indicators that have led me to this conclusion. The days that I spent in Praia da Luz speaking to those who were there soon after that dreadful night in May, and with experienced police officers and a forensic scientist, have helped to clear away many of the myths and half-truths that have driven the accounts of Madeleine's disappearance. If you stand outside the apparently unremarkable apartment from which Madeleine vanished, the reality of unexpected horror hits home. The tidy walls and hedges that divide the apartments from the swimming pool, on the far side of which the family were eating tapas on May 3, take on a much more sinister form when you realise that they hide any clear view of the room in which the McCann children were sleeping. (1)
An abductor who knew the complex would have had to be quick to remove the child from her apartment without being seen, but he could have done it. After passing through the alleyway that ran beside the apartment, he would then have found it simple to dash across the deserted road behind the resort and through a small car park to a network of alleyways sheltered by high walls. (2) These alleyways, decorated with lush bougainvillea, provide an ideal rat-run that would be well known to local criminals. Late in the evening it would have been a simple thing to pass through these alleyways to a safe house or a car parked near by. Possible escape routes aside, one of the most convincing arguments I have heard for an abduction by a local came from my colleague at Liverpool University, Professor Kevin Browne, who advises many international agencies including the WHO and Unicef on child protection. He made clear that this quiet village could harbour a number of child abusers who had been released into the community rather than convicted. (3) The situation in Portugal was, he pointed out, very different from that in Britain today, being more the way it used to be here a decade or more ago. Compared with other countries in Western Europe, Portugal convicts a much smaller proportion of child abusers. Children are more likely to be removed from their families, ending up in institutions while their abusers walk free. As a consequence, there are not only potentially more abusers within society unmarked and unmonitored, but a whole new generation of people with an increased likelihood of becoming abusers because of their own experiences. (4)
There are limited possibilities for what happened to Madeleine. I think of these along a continuum from those, at one end, in which she played a significant role, to the other extreme at which would lie an organised network of traffickers who come to Praia de Luz specifically to find a victim. The family or close associates distance us from the possibilites involving the girl herself. Those who know the family but are not really known to the family themselves, such as service staff, lead us a step closer to the possibilities of a distant criminal network. However, there is a crucial prospect of a person who had no direct contact with the family, observing them from afar, although not part of any criminal organisation. Each possible explanation for the disappearance is driven by different assumptions.
If she had woken up in distress would she have sat and cried or wandered off into the town? If she had wandered off it would have been to try to find her parents – along a probably familiar route to where they were eating. It would have been a terrible coincidence if she had been abducted on such an unlikely journey. (5) The prospect of family or friends' involvement beggars belief. For a start, if the child had been killed in some accident, possibly as a result of an overdose, then her medically trained parents would have had to be exceptionally incompetent, for which there is no evidence. Furthermore, the friends who were with them would all have had to be willing to risk their professional careers to keep such a appalling secret for such a long time. (6)
Organised networks of people traffickers, sadly, have much more obvious opportunities for finding vulnerable children who would not be missed on the streets of many developing countries, or even in the orphanages, and sometimes the streets of Eastern Europe. Why risk being caught in a quite middle-class holiday resort? Against this backdrop, it became clear to me that the police in the Algarve simply do not have the resources to deal with crimes of this magnitude. Their expertise lies in dealing with the drug smuggling that occurs frequently between North Africa and here. But resources that the English police can bring to bear quickly are unlikely to be available to the Portuguese police in any serious inquiry.
Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Stevenson, who headed the Soham investigation into the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in 2002, made clear in his contribution to the documentary that the British police would have followed the detailed procedure laid down in an inch-thick "murder manual" – a painstakingly systematic approach that can send the cost of the average murder inquiry to £1 million. (7) Without these resources, the Portuguese police have had to proceed very differently. They have to find ways of taking the short cuts that detectives in fact and fiction have always had to take in the past. This consists of forming a view of what the likely cause of the crime is and using that in the search for clues.
For me the most obvious possibility is the local offender quickly escaping down the rat-run of dark alleys. One witness is reported as seeing a man rushing away from the complex with a child wrapped in a blanket shortly after the last reported sighting of Madeleine. (8) The days spent discussing the disappearance of Madeleine in the actual location where the McCanns had been on holiday provided a rather different perspective from the one heralded in the British media. The little girl may just have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Eh oui, à qui le dit David Canter ? Le temps est plus que venu de jeter les mythes et les demi-vérités à la poubelle !
Au mauvais endroit, au mauvais moment... Tout est bien qui finit mal ?
18.05.2009 - David Canter (Timesonline)
A generation of criminals brought up on reality TV shows us how easily the camera – or those in front of it – can lie
We live in a media-savvy age. The game shows and endless coverage of the lives of ordinary people that is called "reality television" educate all who watch how to act in front of the cameras. They also provide a way of shaping the meaning of what people do. Children no longer aspire to be train drivers or astronauts, as they did in the past, but to be "famous". This means appearing on television.
People used to be shy of cameras but now many feel their identity is only given form when it is broadcast on television. Yet there is a price to pay for this growing sophistication and desire to engage with public broadcasts. It can easily be hijacked. A new generation of criminals seems to be emerging who use their time in front of the cameras, shedding tears in public, as a way of maintaining their fictional stories.
In contributing to the documentary Tears, Lies and Videotape, I had the opportunity to study the television appearances of a number of people who claimed to be searching for a missing partner or child whom it later turned out they had killed or helped to abduct. Their understanding of how the media works and their ability to pluck the public heartstrings was masterly. Yet none of these people were particularly intelligent or sophisticated. Nonetheless they showed that you do not need any training as an actor, or a part in a Mike Leigh film, to be able to improvise a fictitious role in front of the television cameras.
We have no obvious label for these cases where the culprit appeals for help, other than them exhibiting crocodile tears, so let us call them "crocodiles". These crocodiles teach us the mechanisms by which big lies are perpetrated. They hook into a plausible story of the moment.
Tracie Andrews claimed that her partner Lee Harvey had been attacked in an incident that was quickly labelled "road rage". As a former model she was comfortable in front of the cameras and so confidently invented a story of being attacked by a driver who had played "cat and mouse" and had "staring eyes". She took advantage of the headline clichés created by current "rages", from "air rage" to "shop rage". These imply a sudden, unthinking outburst of violence, so that by making reference to them no further elaboration seems necessary. The lie is supported by the implicit story in which it is embedded.
The most telling example of how our susceptibility to an apparently plausible sob story can be manipulated was when Karen Matthews declared that her daughter Shannon had gone missing. As often happens when such cases hit the headlines I was approached by journalists and asked to provide a "profile" of the sort of person who would have abducted Shannon. The assumption was that there were close parallels to Madeleine McCann's case. When I pointed out the differences in the age of the victim, the locality, how the child had vanished and the family circumstances, my response was treated with some surprise. When she was found to be involved in her daughter's abduction, the news was then about what a clever actress she had been. But watching the recordings of her during the period her daughter was missing shows that she never really had to lie directly at all. She did what many people do when they want to be deceptive. She played to the expectations of those around her.
On a number of occasions Matthews actually told the truth, but it was interpreted to fit in with an abduction scenario. She said she was sure that Shannon was alive and being held by someone nearby who knew Shannon and her as well. She even hinted that she felt she could no longer trust those close to her. In her television appeals Matthews emphasised how Shannon's father and her family was missing her. The hole that might have been expected in Matthews's own life was never expressed. With hindsight even her initial 999 call was a rather formal "I want to report my daughter is missing".
In earlier studies I have done it emerged that false calls to 999 are often distinct from genuine ones by the false caller's determination to get the message across, as opposed to expressing the anxiety and emotion of a real situation.
Perhaps we should not be so surprised at Matthews's ability to deceive so many people for so long. Studies have shown that police officers are no better at telling whether someone is lying or not than anyone else. Most of us find it far more difficult to spot deception than we realise. If you wanted to reach for a Darwinian interpretation of this weakness we all have, then it may be argued that the hominids who could dissimulate most effectively were most likely to mate, so effective deception has become hard-wired into our very beings.
Detectives identify liars because they tend to assume that most people talking to them are being economical with the truth, especially if their interviewees are known to have committed crimes in the past. But when their interlocutors are apparently the victims of a crime, there is a tendency to respond with sympathy rather than suspicion. This concern is especially likely when the account given by the victim fits well with a storyline that we have all come to accept from earlier headlines and saturation television coverage.
We interpret how these apparent victims act in the frame of the many factual and fictional accounts of crime that fill the media. When Paul Dyson appealed for help to find his missing partner Joanne Nelson he said she meant the world to him and he missed her terribly. He shed real tears. Given the outpourings of genuine grief that are broadcast, it does not occur to most of us that someone who kills in the anger and frustration of trying to prevent his loved one from leaving him will quite honestly say he misses the victim and they were the most important person in his life. He will even be telling the truth when he says, as Dyson did, that he wants her back.
As in other forms of economy the ready currency of grief undermines its value. For a while false sorrow is squandered. The problem this causes is that it can then become valueless. Other stories take the place of the distraught parent or partner and narratives of devious "crocodiles" replace them. As long as exciting stories float free of the facts then the media and the police may be convinced by them. We have to distinguish between reality and the images that appear on our screens. It is only when we dig behind the headlines that the truth will emerge.