A MAN WITH A CHILD IN HIS ARMS
May 3rd, around 9.27pm, Dolphin restaurant,
Vila da Luz
The Smiths, from Ireland, are spending their holiday in Praia da Luz. After having dinner at the restaurant, they go to Kelly's bar, 50 metres away. They leave there at around 9.55pm to go back to their apartment in Estrela da Luz, west of the Ocean Club, 300 metres further on. They don't stay late because the next morning one of them has to go back to Ireland. It's a big family, of four adults and five children: the father, aged 58, retired, and his wife; their 12 year-old daughter; their two grand-children aged 10 and 4 (their mother stayed in Ireland); their son accompanied by his wife - who is pregnant - and their two children aged 13 and 6.
(For maps and diagrams of the route taken by the Smiths, see The McCann Files. Link is headed, "The Smith's Sighting," roughly the 18th link in the menu on the left of the page.)
They go in a northerly direction, the group spreading out; the children are never far away from the adults. There's nobody about. They climb a few steps to reach 25 de Abril street, cross it and turn left into 1 de Maio street, that runs along the west side of the Ocean Club. They haven't gone 30 metres when they come across a man walking up the middle of the road. He is carrying a child in his arms, head resting on his left shoulder. The Smiths don't see the face of the little girl, whose arms hang by her sides. She is dressed in pale-coloured, maybe pink, pyjamas; her feet are bare, she is white and she has blonde hair that covers her neck. The individual's appearance gives the impression that he is not a tourist. He is wearing cream-coloured or beige trousers, classic in style, perhaps linen or cotton. He is a white man, aged around 30 to 35, with no other distinguishing features: he is between 1.70m and 1.80m tall, is visibly in good physical condition; his brown hair is cut short, his face is tanned.
At this time, images of Robert Murat - considered to be the main suspect - begin to be circulated all over the world. After they return to Ireland, the Smiths continue to follow the case. They learn that, according to Jane Tanner's statements, Murat is definitely the man encountered on the night of the abduction. Mr Smith then gets in touch with the Irish police to relate what he saw on the night of May 3rd. He insists, categorically, that the man they came across with the little girl in his arms was not Robert Murat. He is sure of it because he knows him.
With hindsight, he is utterly convinced that the little girl was definitely Madeleine. We secretly organise for the Smiths to come to Portugal. On May 26th, in the offices of the Department of Criminal Investigation in Portimão, we interview the father and his son. What they say seems credible. However, because of the dim street lighting, they say they would have a hard time formally recognising the man who was carrying the child. On the other hand, they describe very clearly how the man was holding the little girl and how he was walking. That scene is indelibly printed in their memory. After their interview, they go back to the scene, accompanied by investigators. They indicate the precise place where they came across the man.
Their coming to Portugal as well as their statements are kept secret. Within a few days, they go back to Ireland, but contact is maintained: they undertake to let us have any further details they remember. We finally have credible witness statements about that stranger who, on the night of May 3rd, was walking in the streets of Vila da Luz with a child in his arms.