The nanny of Madeleine McCann has broken her ten-year silence on what happened the night the British tot went missing in Portugal.
The former child minder has told how the youngster’s parents descended into despair and panic when the horrifying truth she had vanished sank in.
Breaking her silence after a decade, the witness said she is still haunted by the image of dad Gerry desperately trying to find their missing daughter while she tried to comfort weeping mum Kate who cried: “They’ve taken her.”
She also claimed the resort from which Madeleine vanished was considered so unsafe nannies were handed rape alarms and told to not go out alone, the Mirror reports.
And she slammed the Portuguese police’s handling of the disappearance, insisting their blundering scuppered any chances of finding who had snatched three-year-old Madeleine.
Speaking of that dreadful night in May 2007, the ex-nanny –who looked after the girl several times – said: “A parent came to me and said there was something going on, and said someone’s looking for a child, I didn’t instantly think it was Maddie.
“A couple of minutes later I walked into Kate crying, friends comforting her, Gerry looking under cars, and it just blew up.
“I don’t even think she saw me. I just stood next to her and tried to comfort her.
“She was pacing up and down. The worst possible thing had just happened to her.
“I think I said something like, ‘She’ll be found, these things happen all the time.’
“She was crying, but almost in a catatonic state, and Gerry was very distressed. That’s the one thing I really remember from him, looking under the cars. I can’t forget that.
“We were told to start looking in bins in case her body was in there. It was at that point we realised this was serious.”
Along with other staff, the ex-carer, who worked for travel firm Mark Warner at the the Ocean Club resort, sifted by hand in the dark through industrial-sized bins and piping leading into the sea in their hunt for Madeleine.
They also walked Praia da Luz’s small, winding streets searching for the missing girl until they were told, against their wills at 5am, that it was time for bed.
But the woman, who we are not naming, said she is still furious with local police, who she claimed took 90 minutes to arrive on the scene.
And she told how people were in and out of the apartment where Madeleine vanished from – contaminating a potential crime scene.
The former nanny added: “I know I didn’t step into that apartment but pretty much everybody else did. So, evidence gone, nothing. There was nobody there to say, ‘We need to lock this off now.’
“The police didn’t get there for ages, maybe an hour and a half, so we were looking for her.
“And at the end of the day, no matter how much you’ve been trained with children, we were children, mainly teenagers, we’re not police.
“That’s why police were trying to get everyone’s timelines, because they weren’t there.”
She also told how she was interviewed by officers in the wake of Madeleine’s disappearance and later detectives from the Met’s Operation Grange handed her two pages of statements they had retrieved from their Algarve compratiots.
Her original statement was four to five pages long, but the one the Portuguese had been working from was only two pages long – missing a number of details from her interview.
The woman claimed “whole chunks of information were missed out”.
She added: “I think a lot of things should’ve happened differently. Unfortunately the effects were catastrophic.”
And the carer told how she was astonished Kate and Gerry were ever deemed suspects in their own child’s disappearance.
She is still constantly quizzed by people about the case who ask if “the parents did it”.
She said: “I tell them no, there’s no way at all. A, timings and B, where it was, their reactions, the whole thing. Not a chance.”
The woman also told how Madeleine was a favourite among the child minders. Her allocated nanny was Catriona Baker, but others also got the chance to look after her.
The carer added: “I remember her character and temperament. She was slightly shy, very sweet. Not loud or precocious.
“We obviously give the same care to all the children, but she was a real cutie and a real sweetheart. If you asked her, ‘Can you just pass me that?’ She’d be like, ‘Sure.’
“She was easy for us, and you were happy to sit and help out this pretty little girl who’s really nice.”
Asked if she thinks Madeleine is still alive, the woman said: “Think possibly is the wrong word, but hope. I hope she is still alive.
“It’s probably very naive, but the best case scenario of a very horrible situation, is that she was procured and taken for a rich person who didn’t have children.
“I can’t go anywhere else in my head. I can read it about other people and know how horrible that seedy world is where children are sold. But my brain won’t go there with her. I just switch off.
“But I think the only person who knows exactly what happened is Madeleine. Can I believe it’s 10 years on? Yes and no.
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Madeleine vanished from an apartment in Praia da Luz as her parents ate at a nearby restaurant.
Detectives are said to be working on a theory that she was kidnapped by a European trafficking gang.
Kate and Gerry have never given up hope that she could still be alive – but this year will mark the milestone 10th anniversary without her.
Maddie, who has a distinct and inoperable blemish in her right eye where the pupil runs into the iris, would now be aged 13.
Detectives have explored dozens of theories about Madeleine’s disappearance from being snatched by paedophiles and murdered during a botched burglary.
Despite nearly 9,000 potential sightings across the globe police have struggled to unearth any new clues.
This is potentially Operation Grange’s final year of searching and they are concentrating solely on the fact she was sold by child traffickers – her parents’ and their first team of private investigators’ initial hunch – and could still be alive.
Source : BirminghamMail