MADELEINE BETH McCANN’S HOLIDAY
Saturday April 28th
At the end of April 2007, it’s spring in the Algarve, even if the weather is particularly gloomy. It rains often. While the sun shines, the temperature becomes pleasant, but the nights are cold and windy.
On the morning of April 28th, Madeleine, aged 3, goes to Leicestershire airport to board a flight for Faro, accompanied by her parents, Gerald McCann and Kate Healy, both 39, doctors, living in Rothley, England, and by her brother and sister, Amelie and Sean, twins aged 2.
The family is taking a short holiday – one week – until the following Saturday, May 5th. Madeleine seems at the same time happy and anxious. In Faro, where she arrives at around 2pm, she boards the minibus provided for tourists by the tour operator, to travel the 70 kilometres that separate her from her destination: the Ocean Club holiday complex at Vila da Luz, not far from the town of Lagos.
The McCanns are traveling in the company of the Payne family, composed of David Payne (41) and his wife Fiona (35), doctors, their daughters Lilly and Scarlett (aged 2 and 1 respectively) and Diana Webster, aged 63, credit manager, Fiona’s mother. One hour earlier, at around 1pm, the other members of the group of holiday-makers had arrived from London: the Oldfield couple – Matthew Oldfield (38), doctor, Rachael Mampilly (37) human resources manager, and their daughter Grace (19 months) – as well as the O’Brien couple – Russell O’Brien (37), doctor, Jane Tanner (36) marketing manager, and their daughters Ella and Evie (aged 3 and 1 respectively)
David Payne is the organiser of the trip. These couples have spent their holidays together for several years. In January 2005, while Kate was pregnant with the twins, they stayed for a week in Lanzarote, an island in the Canaries. In September 2003, the McCanns and their friends Matthew Oldfield, Rachael Mampilly, Russell O’Brien and Jane Tanner spent a week in Umbria in Italy, where they went to attend David and Fiona Payne’s wedding. In September 2005, Gerald, Kate and their daughter Madeleine, then aged 2 years and 4 months, went to Majorca, in Spain, for a few days of relaxation with the Paynes and other friends
On their arrival at the Ocean Club, the McCanns are allocated apartment 5A, on the ground floor of one of the apartment blocks, the back of which looks over the swimming pool, the tennis court and the Tapas restaurant. This apartment is on the corner of the building with a public road running alongside. The other couples are accommodated in apartments 5H (Payne family), 5D (O’Brien family), and 5B (Oldfield family); 5B adjoins 5A and is close to 5D. Except for 5H, on the first floor, they’re all on the ground floor.
Access to the front door of apartment 5A is through the car park in front of the building. It is surrounded by a 1 metre high wall, with an opening in the middle. Another wall, of the same height, separates the building from the car park with an alley facing the central part of the building. You have to go along the road that runs alongside this wall to get to the front door of apartment 5A. It’s a very basic wooden door without any specific security system, fitted with a lock that opens with a key. Anyone approaching this door has to go past the window of the bedroom where Madeleine, her brother and her sister sleep.
Behind the ground floor apartments there are small gardens whose side gates open onto a walkway that separates the building from the leisure area of the Ocean Club. Apartment 5A’s small garden opens directly onto the public road. From inside the apartments, the gardens are reached via French windows which have very little security, and only a blind shutting them off from the outside.
The resort complex of the Ocean Club does not stand in a private area; the various buildings of which it is composed are spread throughout the village. The roads serving the club are public. Some of its properties are separated from each other by 2 kilometres – this is the case with the Millennium restaurant. There is no video surveillance system or private security; access to the leisure areas is not controlled either