Madeleine McCann: What 72-year-old Antonio Castela saw
Says Mr McCann:
“We believe there is new information, but there is also a need to identify links between some of the old information. The investigation needs to be reopened.”
The Metropolitan Police have access to all the files on the case so far. Isn’t it up to them and the Portuguese to re-open the case based on facts? Also, what good does re-opening the case do if there are no new facts? The British police are not even half-way through their review.What instruction would the Portuguese investigators be given? Where would they start?
Says Kate McCann:
“For so long we felt we were searching for Madeleine on our own, but that’s not the case now. We are more hopeful than we have been since the early days.”
What of the public who have looked for and spotted the child, albeit without proof? The public donated millions to aid the search. So far, that expensive private investigation has come to nought.
Gerry McCann adds:
“None of us expected a sudden decision to reopen – things don’t happen like that – but we believe the Portuguese authorities will be convinced of the need to reinvestigate. It’s the only way Madeleine’s abductor will be brought to justice.”
Let’s hope so. But this is a case based on facts. The Portuguese say they will be “convinced” to open the case once more when they see compelling evidence to do so.
It is left to Kate McCann to launch an appeal:
“Someone knows what happened and we appeal to them to tell us. It’s not too late. If it’s your brother, your son, your colleague, please let us know.”
The huge reward remains active. But, as yet, no-one is biting.
Only, Antonio Castela says on that fateful night, Madeleine McCann might have been in his cab. He says he told police but they they never followed it up. The Evening Standard says it was the night of May 4 2007 in Monte Gordo in the Algarve. Three men, a woman and a young girl got into Mr Castela’s cab. That was the night after the child went missing. Monte Gordo is around half-an-hour from Praia da Luz.
“Only when I heard about Madeleine going missing and seeing her picture on the TV did I contact the police as the little girl in the back of my taxi had that same distinct mark in her eye as Madeleine does.”
The paper adds:
Mr Castela, who has been a taxi driver for 23 years, said the girl, who was dressed in pink pyjamas, was awake, but did not speak and was just “staring ahead” as though she had been doped.
Castela told the Evening Standard:
“After I went to the police, I never heard anything from them again. They did not seem to take me seriously and never questioned me. They simply took down the details and that was it. I am amazed that it has been five years and nobody has ever asked me what I saw that night. I am absolutely certain it was her.”
“She was with three men, one of whom looked like Robert Murat, and a blonde woman,” he said.
“The blonde woman with them looked to me like Madeleine’s mother but I couldn’t say whether or not it was her,” he added.
“I even noticed the girl’s eye defect, as my son, who is a police officer, has a similar defect in his eye.
“When I saw the news on the television I was stunned and I turned to my wife and said: ‘I had that little girl in my car!’
“I went back to the hotel and told them and asked if they had CCTV cameras. They said they did, but they were broken so there was no footage.
“I told the Judicial Police but they never took me seriously and told me I must have been mistaken.”
Castela, a taxi driver for the past 17 years, said he picked the group up at at a taxi rank in Monte Gordo an hour’s drive east of Praia da Luz where Kate and Gerry McCann were holidaying with their three children on the evening of May 3.
Kate and Gerry McCann’s lawyer in Portugal, Isabel Duarte, said Mr Castela’s account is one of several important leads that the Portuguese police have failed to follow up.
“We are realistic. We don’t know what has happened but we know there is a very good chance that she could be alive – there is no evidence to the contrary.”
“Sean said to me, and this is going back about 18 months now, he said, ‘Shall I come and work for you and find Madeleine when we get older?’.”