Saturday, January 7, 2012

The mystery over the ‘christening weekend’

Source : Jill Havern Forum

On Sunday 15th July, Michael Wright’s two children, Patrick and Katie, were christened - or ‘baptised’ – at Skipton. It is known that Dr Gerry McCann and Dr Kate McCann attended, flying into England on different days. What is not 100% certain is whether Michael Wright attended his own daughter’s christening.

By way of background, the Wrights are Roman Catholics. Nearly always, practising Roman Catholics baptise, or ‘christen’, their children, at a young age. It is a key Roman Catholic sacrament and is thought by Roman Catholics to assure eternal salvation. It is not the same as ‘conformation’. This occurs when children receive a period of training in the essentials of the faith, and then attend a ceremony to confirm their adherence to the faith. It is common practice in Roman Catholicism, in the Church of England, and in the Jewish religion, where the ceremony is known as a ‘barmitzvah’. Christening children at the age of 12 and 10 (the ages of Patrick and Katie) is unusual. Most recently it has become a common practice for parents of unchristened children to adopt to help ensure that their children are given a better chance of attending a good Roman Catholic secondary school.

Let us look at the official synopsis of Michael Wright’s statement to the Portuguese police. The translation says: “12th to 13th July, he returned with Kate and the twins to attend the christening of his own children while Gerry was already in the U.K. The McCanns returned to Portugal on 15th July”.

On the face of this statement, Michael Wright flew from England on 12th July to Praia da Luz to ‘collect’ Dr Kate McCann, and then returned back from Praia da Luz to Skipton the following day, together with Dr Kate McCann, for the family christening. Ostensibly, he then remained in England. Dr Gerry McCann had already returned to England ahead - see below.

Let us begin looking at the events of this weekend by staring with the ‘reconstruction’ event that took place on Wednesday 11 July in Praia da Luz, where Goncalo Amaral’s team of detectives arranged a face-to-face meeting between suspect Robert Murat and the three friends of the McCanns who claim to have seen him acting suspiciously outside the Ocean Club the night that Madeleine ‘disappeared’. The ‘Daily Mirror’ reported it like this: “The extraordinary face-to-face meeting on July 11 was organised by officers trying to discover who is telling the truth in the 85-day long case in which [Robert Murat is the only formal suspect” ... -19528076

Dr Gerry McCann mentions this reconstruction event in his ‘Daily Blog’ for 11 July. Here it is in full (note, Dr McCann’s typing errors have been left just as they appear in the original):

“This morning got off to a bad start when we were called, even before the twins were awake, by a reputable press agency saying that a body had been found and asking if it was true. It is very disappointing that this person did not check out the source of this rumour before contacting our representatives. Such calls and rumours are distressing even though we know if it does not come through an official source not to place much emphasis on it.
The Portuguese police interviewed three of our friends again today, to clarify points in their initial statements. As most of you will know, there is a lot of misleading information being published, both in the press and on the internet, about the events leading up to Madeleine's disappearance and the criminal investigation. We would like to give more information, especially about inaccurate and hurtful reports, but cannot for fear of prejudicing any subsequent court proceedings. The Portuguese police have made it clear to us that all witnesses should not divulge or discuss
the information they have provided. Kate and I are, of course not party to all of the information coming into the inquiry for sound operational reasons. Similarly a lot of people have asked to learn more about Madeleines likes and dislikes. This is information which we have been advised not to distribute publicly because of the risk of it being used in potential extortion attempts. The arrests recently in The Netherlands and Spain show that such information could be used negatively in the wrong hands”.

Now let us turn to his blog entry for the following day:

“It is ten weeks since Madeleine was abducted and every day has been incredibly hard for our family. No child should be separated from their family in such circumstances. The overwhelming messages of support, thoughts and prayers really help us stay strong. Somebody, somewhere knows where Madeleine is and it may take a single phone call for her to be found. We will not give up searching for her. I came to London today to meet with the British police and will go to the Child Exploitaion and Online Protection Centre tomorrow to learn more about their role. As I have said previously we want to work closely with the police and child welfare organisations to help us keep awareness of Madeleines and other childrens disappearance high.
I was also invited to attend the National Police Federation Annual Bravery awards tonight. The work of the police is often taken for granted until you really need them. It was a humbling experience to see and meet so many officers who have shown such outstanding bravery in the line of duty and protecting us all. It was a fantastic opportunity to thank officers from all over the country who have been involved with the investigation to find Madeleine. The vast majority of those that I managed to speak to are, like us, very optimistic that we will find Madeleine safe and well”.

So Dr Gerry McCann travelled on his own to England, and met ‘British police’ for a purpose which he does not tell us about, though a later report in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ said he had visited ‘British police connected with the investigation’. Nor does he say who these ‘British police’ were. Now we come to his blog for Friday 13th July:

“Spent a large part of the day at the Child Exploitation and Online Protecetion (CEOP) headquarters in London. The work they are doing in the prevention and detection of child exploitation is fantastic and I have no doubt they are world leaders in many aspects of their work. The statistics of child abduction in the UK, both attempted and sucessful cases, are stagggering with over 1000 reported cases in 2003/4 and the figures show a year on year increase. The scale of the problem is much larger than Kate and I ever imagined and worryingly there does not appear to be reliable statistics for many countries in Europe. Clearly a lot of work has to be done to tackle this growing problem.
Kate and I believe that someone, somewhere knows something about Madleines abduction. The events of recent weeks and the high profile of Madeleine reassure us that when the key piece of information comes in, to any law enforcement agency, it will be treated seriously and fed into the inquiry quickly and actioned”.

Now for Dr Gerry McCann’s blog for the day of the christening (Friday 14th July):

“Kate, the twins and myself attended a family baptism today in Yorkshire where we stood as Godparents. At the end of the short service, which was lovely, prayers were said for Madeleine. It is the first time Kate has been to the UK since Madeleine disappeared but we wanted to support our family [sic] the same way they have supported us over the last ten weeks and it was great to see so many family members together. We have also taken a huge amount of strength from our faith and of course the messages of support and prayers for Madeleine from people of all faiths around the world”.

The following day - Sunday - he wrote:

“Travelled back to Portugal today on an early morning flight. It was heartening to see various posters of Madeleine up at all the check-in desks especially with the busy holiday season underway. The flight itself was quiet for Kate and I as the twins fell asleep shortly after take-off. My mum and sister have also come out to for a few days so we managed to see a lot of family this weekend”.

The ‘Craven Herald’s report on the ‘christening weekend’ confirmed: “The cardiologist also met with child abduction experts at the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre [CEOP] in London”.

Quite why Dr Gerry McCann should have travelled to England a day ahead of his wife is unclear. On Friday 13th July, he was a guest at a major police annual dinner, that of the Police Federation, held in London, and presumably spent the night in London before travelling up to meet his wife the following morning - Saturday - the morning of the actual christening.

Michael Wright is quite clear that he flew out to Portugal on Thursday 12th July, apparently solely with the intention of accompanying Dr Kate McCann and the twins the following day. He also says in his statement to the police: “I was aware of the hiring of the Renault Espace [he means ‘Scenic’]; I was collected from the airport by Kate in it on 12th July and drove the vehicle regularly in August and September”. No doubt an accompanying male was very important for a mother travelling on her own with twins and luggage. All the more reason why it is hard to explaining why Dr Gerry McCann went ahead on his own the day previous.

There has been a suggestion discussed on some Madeleine McCann forums that Michael Wright may not have returned to England on 13th July but stayed in Portugal.

It is said by some forum members that if Michael Wright did indeed stay in Portugal that weekend, he would have had a very good opportunity to collect Madeleine’s body from its original site after her ‘disappearance’ to what would no doubt become Madeleine’s final resting place. It is suggested that Michael Wright might have worked alone, or may have had help from another member of the McCanns’ family and group of friends. It is suggested that Michael Wright could easily have been driving the Renault Scenic around Portugal away from the glare of cameramen and nosey journalists. They would all have been hanging around Praia da Luz, waiting for the return of the McCanns.

But if we accept that Michael Wright did indeed travel back with Dr Kate McCann on Friday 13th, having met her at the airport the previous day, then all such speculation is futile.

For the record, the visit of the McCanns to the christening was described by the ‘Daily Telegraph’ in the following terms:

“The mother of missing Madeleine McCann made an emotional journey back to Britain at the weekend for the first time since her daughter was abducted in Portugal on May 3. Kate McCann, 38, of Rothley, Leics, has repeatedly said that she did not want to return home without the missing four-year-old, but made the trip back to attend a family christening. Yesterday on her return to Portugal, where the family are now based, she described the visit as ‘heart-breaking’ but important. ‘Saturday was an emotional day’, she said. Mrs McCann travelled to England with her two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie, and was re-united with her husband Gerry, 39, who was in London meeting police involved in the investigation”.

Meanwhile the ‘Craven Herald’ on Friday 20th July offered the following account of the christening:

“THE parents of missing Madeleine McCann made a short trip to Skipton at the weekend. Kate and Gerry McCann attended the baptism of two of their godchildren on Saturday. Mr McCann had flown to Britain last Thursday [12th] to attend meetings with UK police officers and speak at the Police Federation's annual dinner. The cardiologist also met with child abduction experts at the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre in London. Mrs McCann travelled to North Yorkshire from Faro on Friday.

“The baptism of her godson, Patrick, and her husband's goddaughter, Katie, was at St Stephen's Church. They are the children of Kate's cousin, Anne-Marie Wright, who lives in Skipton. Mrs McCann said: ‘It was an emotional day. We were reunited with family to celebrate welcoming two children into the Catholic faith. Gerry and I wanted to be there, to take part and to support our godchildren on one of the most important days of their lives. But I am sure every mother in the world will understand that it was heart-breaking for me to be with our family, yet not be with Madeleine. Gerry and I have returned to Portugal to continue the search for our daughter Madeleine’.

The report added: “Two classmates from Carleton School have raised nearly £100 to help in the search for Madeleine McCann. Madison Hoyles and Hannah Eastham, both eight, held a stall selling buns, sweets and chocolate after school on Tuesday. The girls sold everything in 30 minutes and raised £99. It was Madison and Hannah's idea to raise money for missing Madeleine and their mums helped them organise the stall. Other parents baked cakes and buns for the girls to sell”.

Questions have been raised about when the baptism of the two children was arranged; some have suggested that it might have been arranged after Madeleine went ‘missing’, and perhaps for a purpose. There is however no evidence in the public domain as to when the baptism was arranged.

The McCanns in the villa - July onwards

The McCanns moved into their new villa outside Praia da Luz on Sunday 1 July 2007, staying there until 10 September when they rushed back to England just after being made ‘arguido’ and ‘arguida’. So when Dr Kate McCann collected Michael Wright from the airport on 12 July, presumably she took Michael Wright back with her to the villa, before flying to England the following day.

Despite claims that the villa was provided free of charge by a supporter, in fact, the McCanns were billed for €6000.00 for the period of 1 July to 31 August 2007 and then a further €1000.00 for the period 1 to 10 September. They had had to move because 1 July was the start of the Portuguese ‘high season’.

Altogether, then, €7000.00 - or over £5,000. The monthly rental was therefore nearly £2,500 - or £600 a week. The bill was made out direct to Dr Gerry and Dr Kate McCann, asking for full payment by bank transfer. No deposit was required.

When the Portuguese police went to the villa during July, they made some surprising finds, notably books on crimes and murders, plus confidential procedure manuals produced by the Child Exploitation and Online Ptotection Centre. During his time at the villa, Dr Gerry McCann also researched the ability of cadaver dogs - looking, it seems, for every weakness in their ability, searching for every possible reference to their evidence being unreliable.

‘Rubbish to the dumps’

Michael Wright mentions in the synopsis of his statement that he and the McCanns used a number of refuse sites for disposing of household rubbish. He mentions two rubbish disposal areas on the estate of the villa itself, first by the main entrance and other at the top of the hill. Outside the villa, he mentions other public rubbish disposal sites: a site on Cemetery Road, a site on a road above the Mark Warners complex, and a further site between the villa and the church. These visits to so many rubbish dump sites - five in all - seem odd given that we know there were several large disposal bins in Praia da Luz which they could have used.

Michael Wright and Dr Gerry McCann also claimed to have been taking garden rubbish regularly to the dumps. Quite what ‘gardening’ would have to be done in a rented Mediterranean villa, when you have the twins to look after and are running an intense, global campaign to ‘find Madeleine’, is unclear.

The unpleasant smell in the Renault Scenic

We looked at a few facts about the hire of the Renault Scenic above. Now we look at the following extract from Michael Wright’s synopsis: “On a number of occasions he [Michael Wright] noticed an unpleasant smell in the vehicle that he put down to the twins used nappies which had been discarded with the general waste. He was not aware of any spillages in the vehicle or anyone cleaning it”.

Given these statements, it is more than passing interest that a neighbour of the McCanns observed that ‘the back door of the Renault Scenic was left open all night long’ - presumably to get rid of the smell? It is hardly likely that the McCanns would have left ‘rotting meat’ and ‘dirty nappies’ in the back of the car for long enough for the smell to remain. Smells like that would be washed away with a good clean. The smell of human cadaverine, however, once it attaches to an item, can linger for years.

It is interesting that he uses the term ‘unpleasant smell’. As a mature adult, he would surely know what kind of smells resulted from ‘rotting meat’ and ‘dirty nappies’. But he doesn’t say the car smelt of either of these. He talks about an ‘unpleasant smell’ - and one that clearly lingered a long time, being noticed ‘on several occasions’. Incidentally though Michael Wright claims that he was not aware of the car ever being cleaned, there is evidence that another relative, Sandy Cameron, was seen cleaning it on several occasions. Clearly it was a most unusual smell. Could it have been the ‘smell of death’ detected by Eddie, the cadaver dog?

Quite why dirty nappies should smell that much is a puzzle anyway, assuming that the McCanns do whatever other parents do, namely, fold the nappies up and put them away in a sealable polythene bag ready for disposal.

It may reasonably asked why Michael Wright would mention the unpleasant smell at all. There are perhaps two reasons why he did so. Either he never knew that Madeleine’s body may have been transported in the Scenic, i.e. it was all done entirely without his knowledge, and he just honestly volunteered to the Portuguese police that there was a funny smell in the car, or he may have been actively helping the McCanns with the disposal of Madeleine’s body (or known about it and been involved in the subsequent cover-up) by putting up a false reason for the smell in the car - or, shall we say, a reason why Eddie the cadaver dog might ‘alert’ to a smell in that car.

One blogger wrote the following about the ‘smell of death’: “For anyone who has never smelt it, the smell of a decaying body can never be mistaken. It cannot and will never be mistaken for anything else. It is a sweet, sickly, gas like smell, nothing remotely like butchered rotting meat or dirty nappies. Anyone who has ever successfully used rodent poison under their floor will (a few days later) have had a taste of what a decaying whole body smells of. Once smelt, never forgotten”.

One suggestion made is that Dr Gerry McCann and Michael Wright may have deliberately placed dirty nappies and rotten meat in the car to modify and cover the cadaver scent.

Another possibility is simply that during the voluntary questioning of him, the British detective asked him if he noticed an unpleasant smell, agreed that he had done, and simply did his best by putting forward an explanation as to what might have been the cause of the bad smell.

The explanation for so many trips to the rubbish dump centred around garden waste. But as we saw above, the idea that the McCanns were able to find time for gardening seems unlikely, as of course was the necessity for Dr Kate McCann to wash the holiday curtains. What other holidaymakers need to wash their holiday curtains?

The final two visits in August and September

On 22 August Michael Wright flew out again to Praia da Luz, this time apparently to replace the Cameron family who had been helping Dr Gerry and Dr Kate McCann before then. He stayed until 1 September, when amongst other things he booked a large removal firm in Lagos for the McCanns, apparently using his own name. Michael Wright, according to his statement, says he arranged the removal before 1 September. That raises a very important issue. The McCanns maintained that they did not decide to return to England until they were both made ‘arguidos’ on 7th September. Why, then, had Michael Wright already ordered the removal van some two weeks before, at the end of August?

He then flew out once again on 7 September, apparently to help in cleaning the villa and arranging for Dr Gerry and Dr Kate McCann to return to England. The Camerons were already there, though, helping with the cleaning. And quite why such a large removal van proved necessary to take all the McCanns’ many belongings back to England is uncertain. The McCanns said at the time that they had to hire a removal van because they ‘had accumulated hundreds of letters from well-wishers and the twins had been sent loads of toys’. There also seemed to be a huge number of clothes that Dr Kate McCann was wearing, as she seemed to have at least one different outfit for every day of the holiday.

It is known that from 7th to 9th September Michael Wright helped to clean the villa where the McCanns were staying, ahead of the McCanns returning hastily to England on 10th September.

The Camerons and Eileen McCann had already left the previous day, 9 September.

Michael Wright speaks in his statement of how he helped the McCanns with their campaigning. He describes them both as ‘distraught’, explaining how they ‘crumbled and sobbed’ when not in official meetings or media conferences. He explained that he drove the Renault Scenic ‘regularly’ in August and September, using it for shopping, and for the removal of garden and other rubbish to the recycling area of Praia da Luz. Sometimes he drove the twins to the beach, he says, sometimes to the Kids’ Club, or when he was doing ‘runs to and from the airport’. At other times, he was the passenger while Dr Gerry McCann or Sandy Cameron drove the Scenic, which, confusingly, he called the ‘Espace’ in his statement.

When the McCanns returned to England on 10th September, one of the questions they faced was why they had left Portugal after vowing to stay in Portugal until Madeleine was found. This was one of the issues tackled in an article in the ‘Craven Herald’ on Friday 14th September; the McCanns were at pains to say they would return to Portugal if asked. Anne-Marie Wright was quoted in the ‘Craven Herald’. The article ran:

A SKIPTON relative of Kate and Gerry McCann has said the couple had nothing to do with their daughter's disappearance. Portuguese police have named Mr and Mrs McCann as official suspects after the disappearance of four-year-old Madeleine from an Algarve holiday resort in May...Kate's cousin, Skipton resident Anne-Marie Wright, said they were determined to clear their names if it came to it. She said: ‘They are innocent and had nothing to do with her disappearance’. Mrs Wright, whose husband Michael has spent time in Portugal helping with the search for Madeleine, said the situation was ‘heartbreaking…It's absolutely awful. It's the feeling of: can this be happening to our family?' We can't believe it's real. It's unbelievable’.” She said: "They will have the support of family and friends more available to them [by deciding to return to England]. They have said that if police want them to go back to Portugal they will co-operate and clear their names’."

Christmas with the Wrights in Skipton

It was Skipton where the McCanns went for Christmas 2007, according to a detailed report in the ‘Craven Herald’ on 28 December, headed ‘Relatives provide Christmas comfort for Maddy’s parents’:

“Kate and Gerry McCann were comforted by relatives in Skipton as they spent a heartbreaking first Christmas without their daughter, Madeleine. The couple…stayed with Kate's cousin, Anne-Marie Wright. After arriving in the town on Christmas Eve, they tried to give their two other children, twins Amelie and Sean, as normal a Christmas as possible…The two-year-olds also had Mrs Wright's children, Katie and Patrick, to play with during their break from their home in Leicestershire. The McCanns attended Christmas Day Mass with Mrs Wright and her husband Michael at St Stephen's Church, where Father Peter Dawber led a prayer for Madeleine's safe return. Kate returned to the church for mass again on Boxing Day. She wore a badge featuring a picture of her missing daughter and the caption: ‘Look into my eyes! Help find Madeleine’. Mrs Wright said: “They are a delightful family and Kate and Gerry are kind, caring, devoted parents. It makes you wonder why something as horrible as this can happen to such good people. Everyone in our family desperately wants Madeleine back with her Mum, Dad, brother and sister”. Kate released a message to the media in the hope her daughter would hear it over the Christmas period. In the recording, Kate said: ‘Madeleine, it's Mummy and Daddy here. Just know how much we love you, Madeleine. We all miss you so much. Sean and Amelie talk about you all the time every day. Our only Christmas wish is for you to be back with us again and we're hoping and praying that that will happen’.”

In this context, it is of interest to know that at around Christmas-time, Australian blogger who operates the ‘I On Global Trends’ website, stated that he had received many abusive e-mails from an ISP address [e-mail address] in Skipton? Similar abusive messages were received around the same time on the ‘Daily Mirror’s Madeleine McCann forum. One forum member painted a vivid picture of them all sitting round the Christmas tree in Skipton, furiously tapping out vile posts on their laptops.

Mike Hitchen said at the time: “It has been rather an interesting night. Earlier in the evening someone tried to hijack the Shout Box, by posting under the names of regular users, including myself. To give you an idea of how inexperienced these people are, they failed to realise that not only do I track ISP addresses, but when I post, I am specially marked as administrator. Hard to believe that someone posting from an ISP address that was traced to just north of Skipton, could possibly be someone posting from Sydney. Ah well, an abuse report has gone of to the both the Shout Box host, and to the offenders’ ISP.

Out to Portugal for the One Year Anniversary

Michael Wright went out to Praia da Luz for the one year ‘memorial service’ to Madeleine. Dr Gerry McCanns’ brother, John McCann, his sister Trish Cameron, and her husband Sandy Cameron also attended the service. A number of other relatives, all of whom live in Dr McCann’s home city of Glasgow, also travelled to Praia da Luz on behalf of Madeleine's parents to attend an evening service in the Algarve village's church of Our Lady of Light (]


On the face of it, many people would suggest that what we have here is no more than a close relative of the McCanns doing all that he practically could to help his relatives who were in acute distress.

He spent part or all of 34 days in Praia da Luz between 5th May and 1st September included. His wife went out there twice. He actively helped with the campaigning and helped out with family matters like taking the children to the beach.

If the christening/baptism had been arranged before Madeleine ‘disappeared’ on 3rd May, and assuming that we are right in thinking that Michael Wright flew out on 12 July to accompany Dr Kate McCann and the twins back to England to attend that event, there is nothing sinister or which requires further explanation about that event.

Points for concern include:

a) the swiftness of his departure to Praia da Luz

b) why he apparently took no action over the report of ‘George B’ seeing a man with a child early on the morning of 4th May

c) what he and Dr Gerry McCann were doing texting people on the beach on 7th May

d) the connection (if any) between him and the crisis management/counselling company, CCP, that was despatched immediately to Praia da Luz

e) why there seemed to have been so much rubbish disposal during his time there

f) whether he was aware of the true cause of the ‘unpleasant smell’ in the car.