A child minder who looked after Madeleine McCann has spoken out for the first time about what really happened the night she disappeared.
Speaking to The Mirror ahead of the 10-year anniversary of the British toddler’s disappearance, the unnamed woman says she is still haunted by what happened at the Portuguese holiday resort that fateful night.
Explaining her belief that there was ‘no way’ Kate and Gerry McCann could have been involved in their three-year daughter’s disappearance, the woman also reveals the resort from which Madeleine vanished was considered so unsafe nannies were handed rape alarms and told to not go out alone.
After realising that Maddie had gone missing, she said Kate was in a ‘catatonic state’.
‘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,’ she said.
The McCann’s had left their children – including their twin toddlers - sleeping as they ate with friends at a nearby tapas bar, but when they returned to check on the children at 10pm, the realised Madeleine was missing from her bed.
And while the investigation at one point focused its suspicions on Kate and Gerry, the unnamed nanny slams the Portuguese police for botching the investigation.
‘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,’ she said of speculation that Kate and Gerry could have been involved in Maddie’s disappearance.
‘I remember thinking, even before I knew them, how they were the picture perfect family.’
‘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.’
The nanny also says the resort was unsafe and women were encouraged to carry rape whistles.
'We were told, "Here’s a rape whistle, don’t go anywhere by yourself, ever." There’d been a girl attacked the year or so before in Praia da Luz. It didn’t sound like a family resort to me.
'I just got the feeling the locals didn’t want us there.'
She says she hopes Madeleine is still alive and wonders if she can remember what happened to her.
'I hope she is still alive. But I think the only person who knows exactly what happened is Madeleine.'