By STAFF REPORTER
Published: 12 Jan 2010
A POLICE report into the disappearance of Maddie McCann said she died in the family's holiday apartment, a court was told today.
The lawyer in charge of the original inquiry said the report was signed by Tavares De Almeida, who was chief inspector of police at the time the youngster vanished.
Jose Magalhaes e Menezes also revealed that text messages sent by Kate and Gerry McCann were intercepted by Portuguese police who were suspicious about the couple's role in the then almost four-year-old's disappearance.
But the texts were not considered as part of the 2007 investigation because a judge would not allow it.
Trial ... Goncalo Amaral
Mr Menezes was the first witness called at a libel trial brought by the McCanns against former police chief Goncalo Amaral.
His book — "Maddie: The Truth Of The Lie" — claimed the tot died in the family's apartment in the holiday resort of Praia da Luz in May 2007.
The McCanns have always maintained their daughter went missing as they dined with friends in a restaurant nearby.
Mr Menezes said the decision to make the McCanns arguidos — Portuguese for suspects — was taken after sniffer dogs brought from England identified blood in the couple's flat and rental car.
The dogs also found a scent on a piece of cloth in a flat rented by the McCanns after they left the apartment, he said.
The McCanns want £1MILLION
compensation and a ruling to stop Amaral repeating his claims.
The couple's lawyer told the court they were prepared to give evidence — but only after Amaral had done.
The McCanns have also called a new witness — named Luis Frois — in the trial.
Amaral was in charge of the original Maddie investigation, but he was taken off the case after slamming British cops in an interview.
Arriving in Lisbon yesterday, Mr McCann said: "No-one can be allowed to say that our daughter can't be found without very good evidence. That's what this court case is about."
Mrs McCann said: "We're looking for justice."
MADELEINE KATE'S VISION
Just weeks after Madeleine McCann vanished, sobbing mum Kate rang the Portuguese detective appointed to look after her to tell of a horrific dream in which she had seen her daughter's dead body.
Distraught Kate said Madeleine had been lying on a hillside overlooking the beach at Praia da Luz. She begged Inspector Ricardo Paiva to search the spot.
Astonishingly, rather than inspiring pity at a desperate mother's plight, the incident sparked only suspicion in the minds of the officers who were supposed to be hunting Madeleine and her abductor.
And yesterday Paiva told a Portuguese court the frantic phone call was the crucial episode that led to both Kate and Gerry becoming suspects. Kate and Gerry sat just yards from Paiva as he gave evidence in their libel trial against disgraced exdetective Goncalo Amaral.
He said: "The turning point of the investigation came after I received a phone call from Kate. She was alone as Gerry was away and she was crying.
"She said she had had a nightmare and saw Madeleine's body lying on a hillside and we should search for her there. She gave the impression that she thought she was dead."
Paiva, a family liaison officer, said he took the call at the end of July 2007. Madeleine had vanished on May 3.
Police duly searched the hillside but found no clues.
But Paiva said the call was the catalyst that persuaded Portuguese police to ask their British counterparts to bring in sniffer dogs to examine the McCanns' flat.
He told the Lisbon court: "We decided to send the specialist dogs in. British police informed us about how they could detect the scent of death."
But the detective admitted the police had been suspicious of the McCanns from the start - simply because they had tried to give the stalled hunt for Madeleine some much-needed momentum.
He added: "They disobeyed our request to keep quiet about the details of their daughter's disappearance while we conducted our investigation. Instead, they turned it into a media circus."
Paiva cruelly even insisted the McCanns should have faced prosecution for leaving their three children alone in the holiday flat while they dined with friends.
He added: "They should have been pursued for neglect. People have been arrested for far less, even in the UK."
Kate and Gerry are suing Amaral, who led the early stages of the Madeleine inquiry until he was sacked for criticising British police. They have a worldwide injunction stopping publication of his book Maddie: The Truth of the Lie, which accuses them of faking their daughter's abduction after she died in their Praia da Luz holiday flat in a tragic accident.
The couple, from Rothley, Leics, listened intently yesterday as more Portuguese officers gave evidence in support of the disgraced ex-policeman.
Kate regularly shook her head in frustration. Gerry remained grim-faced.
But at times it was hard to avoid the feeling that the hearing was more like a trial of the couple than an examination of Amaral's vicious claims.
At one stage during one outrageous allegation, Gerry put a comforting arm around Kate's shoulders.
Inspector Tavares De Almeida, who worked under Amaral, bluntly accused the couple of covering up Madeleine's death. He said: "The conclusion arrived at was Madeleine died in the apartment.
"The McCann couple simulated the abduction to hide the fact they had not taken care of their children.
"They were suspected of concealing the body and simulating the kidnap.
"We have always spoken of a tragic accidental death. There was no homicide.
"They did not kill but they concealed the body." De Almeida insisted Amaral's book was "a true history."
Asked if he believed Madeleine had died on the night she vanished, he replied: "Yes, she is dead."
He claimed British police agreed. He added: "We all believe she died. It was the conclusion of both Portuguese and British police."
District attorney Jose Menezes, who gave the go-ahead for the McCanns to be made official suspects, said his officers eventually reached the conclusion Kate and Gerry concealed Madeleine's body.
He also accused the McCanns of lying about checking on Madeleine and her twin brother and sister every 30 minutes the night she vanished.
Mr Menezes added: "It was longer, like every 45 or 50 minutes.
It seems there was a lie in the investigation." But he also admitted there was no evidence to charge the McCanns conceded it was "Fifty-fifty" whether Madeleine was still alive.
Luis Neves, ex-head of Portugal's serious crime squad, said a British profiler employed by Portuguese police had given him impression the McCanns were involved in the disappearance.
Another investigator claimed police had evidence of text messages between the couple following Madeleine's disappearance.
But they were denied permission to read the contents of the messages by the judge under privacy law.
After yesterday's session the McCann's spokeswoman Claudia Nogueira said hearing the allegations had been painful.
She added: "I think it is hurting them. They can feel hurt by these things being repeated again and again and again.
"However, they know what really happened so they are confident. They just want to find their daughter."
I hate how aspects of the British zenophobic press are "pro-McCann" just because they're Brits... Its disgusts me.