Sunday February 14,2010
By James Murray
THE country’s most senior criminal profiler suggested Madeleine McCann’s brother and sister should have been interviewed about her disappearance. Twins Sean and Amelie were aged just two years and three months when Madeleine was snatched from a holiday apartment on the Algarve in Portugal in May 2007 shortly before her fourth birthday.
A month later, Lee Rainbow, senior behavioural investigation consultant at the National Policing Improvement Agency, wrote a report for Portuguese detectives which may have altered the course of the inquiry. Mr Rainbow urged them to “consider the possibility of exploring the potential of interviewing Sean and Amelie McCann”.
The children, now five, were sharing a bedroom with Madeleine when she was taken. As reported last year in the Sunday Express, the McCanns believe the kidnapper may have entered the apartment the evening before because Madeleine complained she had been woken by Sean crying.
The last time British police seriously interviewed such a young child was in 1992. Rachel Nickell was murdered in front of her two-year-old son, Alex Hanscombe, on Wimbledon Common, south-west London. Despite his age, Alex was able to give detectives valuable and credible information.
Child psychologists worked closely with police to draw information from Alex in a painstaking exercise which lasted months. Former Portuguese detective Goncalo Amaral has presented Mr Rainbow’s report to a civil court in Lisbon as he attempts to lift a ban on selling his book about the case, The Truth Of The Lie.
In the summary of the 30-page report Mr Rainbow wrote: “The potential involvement of the family in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann cannot be discarded, and it can be considered that, when pondering the basis for research, this hypothesis deserves as much attention as the criminal with sexual motivations that has been previously prioritised.
“It should be stressed that there is no evidence to directly support an involvement of the family, yet given the absence of decisive evidence to prove the contrary, such a scenario has to be explored.” At court last week, Mr Amaral’s lawyer, Antonio Cabrita, read out a section of 37-year-old Mr Rainbow’s report which said: “The family is a lead that should be followed.”
Doctors Kate and Gerry McCann, both 41, from Rothley, Leicestershire, won an injunction to have them banned. It was on the grounds that Mr Amaral’s theory that Madeleine died in the apartment was untrue and had damaged their global search for their daughter.
A spokesman for the couple said that any suggestion from Mr Rainbow would have been considered by investigating officers at the time. It is not known whether Sean and Amelie were formally interviewed by police. The children are thought to have slept through the kidnap. The McCanns have always insisted they had no involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance.