Madeleine McCann: Parents 'delighted' with appeal response

Madeleine McCann when she disappeared and how she might have looked aged nine
Image caption An image (right) showing how Madeleine might have looked aged nine

The McCanns have said they are "absolutely delighted" with the "overwhelming" response to a fresh appeal about Madeleine's disappearance.

Kate and Gerry McCann said they are "genuinely hopeful" that a response to Monday night's BBC Crimewatch would lead to a major breakthrough.

Police are working through information from nearly 1,000 calls and emails.

Several people are said to have given the same man's name after e-fit images and a reconstruction were shown.

Madeleine, of Rothley, Leicestershire, was three years old when she disappeared from her parents' holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on 3 May 2007.

The Metropolitan Police are offering a £20,000 reward for information.

Det Ch Insp Andy Redwood, the officer leading the inquiry, is to make similar appeals on Dutch and German TV.

Police, who outlined their latest findings in the search for Madeleine on the BBC One's Crimewatch, released two e-fits of a man seen carrying a child in Praia da Luz at 22:00 on the night Madeleine went missing.

It was also revealed that they now suspect Madeleine could have been taken up to 45 minutes later than previously thought - just before her mother returned to the apartment to check on her.

In the programme, Kate McCann described the moment that "panic kicked in" after returning to the apartment to find her daughter missing.

Scotland Yard suggested the case bore hallmarks of a "pre-planned abduction" - a number of men possibly carrying out reconnaissance had been seen by witnesses - but said it was also looking into possible links to burglaries and bogus charity collections in the area.

Thursday 3 May 2007: Timeline

  • 20:30 Kate and Gerry McCann leave their apartment to have dinner at a Tapas bar
  • 21:05 Gerry McCann checks on Madeleine and her siblings
  • 22:00 A man is seen carrying a child wearing pyjamas heading towards the ocean
  • 22:00 Kate McCann raises the alarm that Madeleine has gone missing

Full timeline of how events unfolded

In an update after the broadcast, Det Ch Insp Redwood said there had been 730 phone calls and 212 emails "as a direct result of the specific lines of inquiry we issued yesterday".

"Detectives are now trawling through and prioritising that material. This will take time," he said.

Image caption E-fits of men police want to trace (Top row l-r): Sighted at 22:00 carrying girl; Seen near McCanns' apartment; Charity collector; (Bottom row l-r) Different image of man sighted at 22:00; Seen near McCanns' apartment; Seen in Ocean club resort on 3 May

In a statement issued through their spokesman, the McCanns said: "We are genuinely hopeful that one of more of these responses will lead to a major breakthrough in the investigation.

"If anyone was in Praia da Luz around the time of Madeleine's abduction and has not spoken to the Metropolitan Police, or if they know who any of the e-fits might be, please have the courage to come forward and speak to the police in confidence," they added.

Crimewatch's editor Joe Mather said the appeal "went better than expected" and "significantly" many of the calls received were from British people who had been at the resort at the time but had not previously contacted the Met.

Mr Mather told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "They received several names for the key 10pm sighting, the sighting of a man carrying a child towards the beach. Several different names but also several callers mentioned the same name for that man."

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe appeal has generated interest across Europe, as Richard Bilton reports

The Metropolitan Police say their inquiries have led to the timeline and "accepted version of events" surrounding Madeleine's disappearance being significantly changed.

Det Ch Insp Redwood said it had been a "revelation moment" when police discovered a man seen by the McCanns' friend Jane Tanner at 21:15 was almost certainly an innocent British holiday-maker collecting his two-year-old daughter from a nearby creche.

He said: "Our focus in terms of understanding what happened on the night of 3 May has now given us a shift of emphasis.

"It takes us through to a position at 10pm when we see another man who is walking towards the ocean, close by to the apartment, with a young child in his arms."

The reconstruction is also to be shown in the Netherlands this evening, Germany on Wednesday, and in the Irish Republic. Tourists from all the countries were known to be in Praia da Luz at the time.

The two e-fit images released are of a man a family had seen with a blond-haired child of three or four, possibly wearing pyjamas, heading away from the McCanns' holiday apartment.

Det Ch Insp Redwood said he could be the man who took Madeleine - but there could be an innocent explanation.

He said there had been a four-fold increase in the number of burglaries in the area between January and May 2007 and one possible scenario was that Madeleine had disturbed a burglar.

Police are also looking at possible bogus charity collectors operating in the area at the time and have released two e-fit images of Portuguese men they would like to identify.

They have released e-fit images of two men seen in the area around the time that Madeleine disappeared. Two are of fair-haired men who fit similar descriptions.

Portuguese police shelved their inquiry in 2008 but Scotland Yard began a review of the case in May 2011 and opened a formal investigation in July this year.

BBC News correspondent Tom Burridge in Praia da Luz said Portuguese police had not commented on the Met investigation but had given the impression that they were co-operating well with their British counterparts.

The Met Police's reward is for information leading to the identification, arrest and prosecution of the person or persons responsible for the abduction of Madeleine.

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites