Five years ago today a little girl, nine days shy of her fourth birthday, disappeared from this ground-floor holiday flat in the Algarve. Madeleine McCann was, according to her parents, spirited away in the night by a kidnapper so bold that he, or she, was prepared to enter the property via a window as they dined with friends in a neighbouring restaurant.
Kate McCann, Madeleine’s mother, describes the moment of discovery in her book, Madeleine. Explaining how, during the meal, she, her husband Gerry and a friend took it in turns to check on Madeleine and her twin brother and sister, sleeping together in one of two bedrooms, she writes: “When I realised Madeleine wasn’t actually there, I went through to our bedroom to see if she’d got into our bed. That would explain the open (bedroom) door. On the discovery of another empty bed, the first wave of panic hit me. As I ran back into the children’s room the closed curtains flew up in a gust of wind. My heart lurched as I saw now that, behind them, the window was wide open and the shutters on the outside raised all the way up. Nausea, terror, disbelief, fear. Icy fear. Dear God, no! Please, no!”