Monday, 9 November 2009

Gerry McCann: The Dogs Are Unreliable? Not according to police forces and courts all over the world!

This is from chapter 16 of Gonçalo Amaral's book, "The Truth Of The Lie." It is verifiable simply by going to any search engine and looking up the cases specifically mentioned.


The heat is scorching on this thirtieth day of July 2007 when two Springer Spaniels, Eddie and Keela, get off the British Airways plane, accompanied by their trainer, Martin Grime. An air-conditioned vehicle is waiting to take them to their accommodation. A vet, who will be on hand during their stay, has been brought in to intervene in case of illness or if the dogs get bitten by a snake. Their mission: to find Madeleine's body and expose those responsible.

Eddie has been involved in a great number of cases, helping the police to resolve a good many riddles, thanks to his sense of smell. Even if the body has been moved, objects the body has touched have been contaminated by its odour, especially porous materials, fabrics, the upholstery in cars, etc. And that odour, Eddie knows how to recognise out of a thousand.

Keela, a scenes of crime specialist, is capable of locating particles of blood even after a place has been cleaned with chemical products or bleach. Sometimes, the residues are so microscopic they are missed by the instruments of the forensic police, as sophicticated as they are, and it's impossible to harvest them without taking all of what they are on.

Eddie is always the first to be brought onto a site. Once he has discerned the odour that he knows so well, it's Keela's turn to go into action, on the lookout for the slightest whiff of blood. The simultaneous presence of the two elements in a given place - blood and cavaver odours - is taken to indicate that a body has been there and that it's probably there that the death occurred.

The dogs' CV is impressive. Besides collaborating in hundreds of investigations, they passed the practical tests brilliantly at the FBI's "Body Farm," the only place in the world where human cadavers are used to simulate homicide scenarios and concealment of bodies.

Amongst the most media-covered cases, which they contributed to resolving, is that of the disappearance in Northern Ireland of Attracta Harron, who was last seen when she was returning home on foot, after having been to church. All searches carried out by the police were unsuccessful. The main suspect's car having been totally burnt out in a mysterious fire, couldn't be examined. They called in Eddie, who examined the charred remains of the vehicle and immediately picked out the characteristic odour. Human tissue was found amongst the debris, the DNA of which corresponded to the missing woman. Later, the dog indicated the place - close to a river - where the victim's body had been abandoned. At the home of the suspect, where the police were searching for incriminating evidence, Eddie identified cadaver odour in one of the bedrooms. The man confessed to having killed the woman then moving her body to the banks of the river.

The case of Amanda Edwards, reported missing, is also very impressive. The police, who conducted a search of her ex-partner's home, found small bloodstains there, but no trace of a body. The dog, who was brought in for the examination of the man''s vehicle, alerted to cadaver odour on the tools stored in the boot (a shovel, a level and a compactor). The police went to the building site where the suspect had worked a few days before and discovered the body, buried in a garage. The murderer had made efficient use of his tools to carry out his task.

It's also thanks to the help of the dogs that the case of Charlotte Pinkley, a missing British woman, who had been imprisoned by her ex-partner, was resolved. The police requested the help of the specialist dog team to try to find the young woman's body. Eddie picked out a place where the abductor had provisionally left his victim. In the surrounding area, the investigators found the button from a dress that had belonged to Charlotte. That clue exposed the murderer, who ended up showing the police the place where he had hidden the body.

More recently, it's Eddie who helps to find a body buried under a flagstone at the former orphanage, Haut-de-la-Garenne, in Jersey, setting for a terrible case of paedophilia and child murder.*

The achievements of the dog detectives are the result of a very long apprenticeship. It all starts with the selection of the best puppies when they are only a few months old. The most talented breed for this unusual "profession," is the Springer Spaniel. The trainer, Martin Grime, and his pupils undergo aptitude tests every year in order to obtain certificates proving their capability. In Great Britain, the police have no hesitation in calling in the specialist dog teams to assist in certain criminal investigations. Their skills are nowadays recognised by journalists, police and courts all over the world.

* Note: I would just add this addendum to the information about the Haut-de-la-Garenne case. Eddie can detect cadaver odour where a corpse has just rested and been moved. The fact that Eddie alerted to an area at the childrens' home and no body was found, means only that at some point a body was probably in that place. Look at some of the other cases, where Eddie alerted to the odour he is trained to detect, but there was no body in situ.