Bungling Cops May Have Cost Maddy Her Life

Bungling Cops May Have Cost Maddy Her Life
Jerry Lawton
24 May 2007
Daily Star

They didn't seal off scene - Failed to do forensic tests - Nearby homes not searched - Left witness appeal too late

A TOP British detective has said "inexcusable" police blunders could have cost Madeleine McCann her life.

Portuguese officers made "fundamental errors" in the hunt for the missing girl, child protection expert Mark Williams-Thomas claimed yesterday.

And he accused the police of using Portugal's secrecy laws to hide their mistakes.

UK detectives had been left "extremely frustrated", said Mr Williams-Thomas, who worked on the Sarah Payne murder probe and other paedophile inquiries.

The ex-Surrey detective called for British officers to take over the inquiry. "Portuguese police failed to do the basics, " he said.

And he warned: "Tragically, statistics tell us it may already be too late for Madeleine."

As he spoke Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry, both 38, joined 1,000 pilgrims at Portugal's holiest shrine in Fatima to pray for the safe return of their daughter.

Clutching flowers, gifts and a set of Rosary beads the Catholic couple lit candles at the shrine.

Mr Williams-Thomas listed a series of police cock-ups which began, he said, the moment Madeleine vanished from her family's holiday flat in the resort of Praia da Luz on May 3.

He said officers failed to seal off the crime scene, allowing residents, journalists and tourists to cross the cordon at will - destroying potentially vital evidence.

House-to-house inquiries should have been made quickly when witnesses were likely to still be in the holiday village.

And police also failed to carry out fingertip searches of nearby streets, meaning vital forensic evidence could have been lost.

And they did not search every home even though Madeleine was likely to have been kept nearby by her abductor.

Mr Williams-Thomas also accused police of waiting too long to appeal for the public's help.

"The Portuguese police need to call for expert help, " he said.

"But they must act fast if they are not to lose more vital clues."

Yesterday, detectives were reinterviewing Michaela Wulczuch, 39, the German lover of British estate agent Robert Murat, 33, who has been named as a suspect.


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