Maddie’s parents are INNOCENT

I do not think they did it. It doesn’t make sense.

THERE’S absolutely no chance that the parents of Madeleine McCann would be charged with her murder in this country.

It would be an outrageous miscarriage of justice if they were.

I don’t say that from any feelings of sympathy for Kate and Gerry McCann, but from examining the facts of the case — or rather, the total LACK of them.

I’ve been a detective at the most senior level for 30 years and have never seen such a witch-hunt, or one based on such flimsy evidence.

Again, I don’t say this from believing in the McCanns’ innocence or their guilt. I simply don’t know either way.

But from the evidence I have read I don’t think they did it.

Unless the Portuguese police have something else, it doesn’t make sense. The couple don’t fit the profile and their opportunity was limited.

Throughout my career I have based my conclusions on hard evidence—and here there isn’t any.

Sadly, I have to admit that is because of the sheer inadequacy of the police investigation that began when little Madeleine disappeared on the night of May 3.

Among the many things the Portuguese police SHOULD have done that night, but didn’t, was treat the McCanns as the prime suspects.

That’s what I’d have done. It’s a matter of statistical fact that three out of four child murders are committed by the parents.

So their behaviour, movements, what they said, how they said it, what they did, who they were with, should have been instantly put under the police microscope.

They should have been sympathetically but relentlessly grilled again and again about what had happened that night.

They weren’t.

That police error has become their tragedy now, because if they had been properly investigated back then they may well have been cleared. And thus free now to concentrate on the hunt to find their missing four-year-old, rather than somehow proving their innocence.

Hand-in-glove with treating the McCanns as suspects, the entire apartment and its environs should have been totally sealed off and barred to anyone but specially-trained police and forensic scientists who would have checked every millimetre of it for evidence.

It wasn’t.

Police don’t call the time after a crime, particularly one against children, the Golden Hour for nothing. In fact, I always insist it’s a Golden Day — the time when forensic evidence is most fresh and easy to detect, when memories are most sharp, when lies and alibis are most vulnerable.

At its most basic, a bloodstain is easiest to see when it’s still wet.

Instead, Kate and Gerry McCann were just treated as grieving parents. Nicer for them, but no use in solving a crime they may have been involved in.

And the possible murder scene was treated as a glorified meeting-room to organise a search for a missing child, instead of the potential treasure trove of clues it actually was. To any experienced British detective, it is incomprehensible.

I spent ten years heading Britain’s Psychological Offender Profiling Committee for the Home Office. It was set up after the so-called Railway Murders, in which monster John Francis Duffy killed two women and stalked and raped four others close to London train stations.

I worked alongside other very senior detectives, top civil servants and psychological profilers like Professor David Canter — who this week appeared on a TV programme about Madeleine’s disappearance.

And I instinctively found myself agreeing when my friend Prof Canter concluded: “I feel abduction is the most likely possibility.”

In other words, the McCanns were not involved. Everything I’ve learned about the couple tells me their profile simply doesn’t fit as killers of their own child.

They’ve been criticised for being too controlled in their dealings with the media. It doesn’t surprise me at all. They’re both highly professional medics, one a surgeon the other a GP.

They’re trained and experienced in dealing with crises — and professionals react to crises with calm.

Of course, anyone can get caught in horrendous circumstances and in panic try to lie their way out of it.

But my experience has shown those lies, particularly elaborate and choreographed deceit as this would have to be, can rarely be maintained before cracks start to show.

And particularly so when the suspects choose to place themselves under the intense, unprecedented scrutiny the McCanns have faced. But that’s just my opinion, informed and based on considerable experience as it is.

Meanwhile, the police investigation that started so disastrously has turned to farce. Every apparent stream of evidence has been either missed, fatally compromised or is simply ludicrous.

For instance, Mrs McCann being allowed to hang on to Madeleine’s favourite toy CuddleCat. Consoling for her, of course, but that’s not the point —it had gone to bed with Madeleine, been taken from her and placed on a high shelf, presumably by the abductor.

CuddleCat was therefore vital evidence. Even a rookie detective should know it was highly likely an abductor’s DNA would be on it.

But it was left for Mrs McCann to clutch, her other children to play with and spread Madeleine’s DNA around.

Then there was the suggestion the McCanns somehow smuggled their daughter’s body away in a car they hired 25 days after her disappearance.

Where did they hide the remains in that time? How did they do this when their every move, at their encouragement, was under the media spotlight?

There’s also a very unpleasant aspect to face. What state, unless it had been in a deep freeze, would the body have been in? I’m afraid very gruesome indeed, probably with considerable leakage of bodily fluids and sloughing off of body cells.

The smell alone would have been appalling and would linger endlessly in any enclosed space like a car.

I’m bewildered by reports leaked by the Portuguese police that tiny traces have been found in the vehicle. My experience says it would probably be a great deal. If not, then anything found should be treated with extreme caution.

In Britain, forensic evidence alone rarely solves cases. When it does, such as in rape cases, it hits the headlines because of its infrequency. But even then it’s usually in support of more conventional evidence.

None of the so-called forensic finds being boasted of in Portugal sound either likely, admissible or even possible to me.

Evidence from cadaver dogs, for instance, could not be used to bring about a conviction here. Generally they are regarded as being at best 80 per cent reliable.

And so it has gone on. The police haven’t even found poor Madeleine’s body — though that doesn’t surprise me when you know rubbish bins in that small Portuguese seaside town weren’t even searched in the week of her disappearance, before the contents were dumped in a landfill site.

To me, there is only one possible conclusion. There is so far not a single shred of evidence that justifies charges against the McCanns.

But the worst thing is that, while the Portuguese police continue their single-minded determination to nail them, they ignore other lines of inquiry.

And, worst of all, they are failing to carry on the hunt to try to find Madeleine alive.

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