Maddie is on a trip..she will be back very soon

26 May 2007
Scottish Daily Record
Mark McGivern

McCANN INTERVIEW.. What twins have told parents of missing big sister

TWINS Sean and Amelie McCann have told their parents: "Madeleine is on a trip - she will be back soon."

They are sure they will see their four-year-old sister again.

And even though the two-year-olds have not seen her for three weeks, they still refer to their big sister.

Mum Kate said the youngsters had been very strong, despite knowing something was wrong.

She said: "They're really good. They're at an age where they're still quite young and it hasn't had the same impact as if they were a bit older.

"They do talk about Madeleine. They pick things up and say, 'Madeleine's' - and that's fine. They're really good."

Kate and husband Gerry told how they were enduring every parent's worst nightmare, as they gave their first detailed interview since Madeleine's abduction 23 days ago.

Despite their guilt, the two doctors said they had been buoyed by thousands of messages from parents who admitted it could have happened to their own families.

And they were adamant their missing daughter was still alive and would be found.

The couple, whose plight has gripped the world, acknowledged that some people would be more judgmental but they insisted they had always been loving and responsible parents.

Heart surgeon Gerry, who is originally from Glasgow, and his GP wife said they had been the victims of a 100million-to-one chance in being picked out by an abductor.

But as he and Kate faced the cameras, he said: " It's fair to say the guilt we feel having not been there at that moment will never leave us.

"Many people say to us that this is a parent's worst nightmare and it is. It truly is.

"It's as bad as you could possibly imagine but if all three of the children had been taken, it could have been even worse than your worst nightmare.

"We've got to be strong for them. They're here and they do bring you back to Earth.

"We cannot grieve. We did grieve, of course. We grieve but ultimately we need to be in control so that we can influence and help in any way possible.

"No one will ever feel more guilty than us for the fact that we were not with Madeleine at that time when she was abducted.

"Whether we had been in the bedroom next door, we would still have felt as guilty, I'm sure.

"But, you know, you've seen the proximity to the restaurant. There was a line of sight to the apartment. It was not dissimilar to having dinner in your garden."

Kate said she panicked when she realised Madeleine was gone at 10pm that night but she refused to discuss details.

And Gerry recounted the moment he saw his daughter was gone as the reality of Madeleine's abduction quickly sank in.

He said: "We were absolutely certain but before you raise the alarm, we double and treble checked.

"We certainly had no doubt in our minds that she'd been taken." He said the speed of response by the McCann party and the holiday respresentatives in raising the alarm had been excellent.

Kate said they had learned to fight their initial panic over Madeleine so as to channel their efforts into getting her back.

She said: "I think in the early days we did panic and I think that's inevitable.

"We're actually a lot stronger now, a lot more hopeful. We have to be hopeful, it's what keeps us going, keeps us focused."

Gaunt-looking Kate defended the couple against the insensitive criticism that has faced them on the internet and in the Portuguese media since the little girl's abduction.

She said: "I think at worst we were naive. We are very responsible parents, we love our children very much.

"I don't think any parent could ever imagine or consider anything like this happening.

"I think people are aware we were checking regularly on the children and it was during one of my checks that I discovered she had gone.

"I can't really go into any details about it but I'm sure any parent will realise how that felt."

Gerry told of their hurt at being blamed. He said: "No one hurts you as much as the hurt that we had but we have tried to remain very positive in our outlook.

"Even small levels of criticism make that hard when you're trying to do everything in your power to get your daughter back."

He explained that he and Kate had decided not to look back at mistakes.

He said: "I don't think it helps at this stage to look back at what could and couldn't have been done.

"We've tried to rationalise things in our head but ultimately what's done is done. We have tried to look forward.

"If you think about the millions and millions of British families who go to the Mediterranean each year, really the chances of this happening are in the order of 100million to one."

The couple said it had been a perfect family holiday until their daughter was snatched and they had seen nothing suspicious in the family complex in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz.

Gerry said: "It was such a relaxing holiday and, up until that night, it was as good a holiday as we've had with the children."

The dad told how his beautiful daughter is so full of life.

He said: "She's very extroverted, lively.

"In the play area by the pool every night after the kids' tea, we would spend an hour with the adults chasing the kids, with Madeleine running up and shouting, 'Be a monster, be a monster.'

"Then she would run away and you would chase her for five minutes, and then she would come back.

"There were lots of adults and she was tiring us all out really."

Kate talked of the Cuddle Cat, Madeleine's toy that her mum has clung to for three weeks.

She said: "It's something that Madeleine has with her every night.

"If she's upset or not well she has Cuddle Cat. It's provided me with a little bit of comfort, something of Madeleine close tome."

Despite the horror, Gerry said he had been lifted by the huge surge of positive emotion directed at the family.

He said: "There's been so much goodwill and humanity out there, it really has restored us.

"One evil act actually has resulted in so much good." He appealed to people everywhere to keep vigilant for Madeleine and pleaded with holidaymakers who were in the area to think back for any information that could help the hunt.

He said: "We would like anyone who's been in here in the two weeks leading up to the abduction to come forward if they've not already done so.

"We want Madeleine back and people can still influence that."

Gerry asked everyone to keep up the momentum of the search. He said: "There's an ongoing investigation which has huge resources both from the Portuguese and the British, reinforced by expert help and I know there's hundreds of pieces of information continuing to come forward."

And when asked if he felt Madeleine was alive and well he was categoric: "Absolutely."

Kate said they would not go home without Madeleine for some time.

She said: "I can't think about that, I can't think about going home without Madeleine."

The McCanns are now preparing for a tour of European countries to help publicise their daughter's disappearance in areas where press coverage of the abduction has been limited.

They are likely to visit Spain, France and Germany.

Meanwhile, former paratrooper Colin Sahlke and his ex-Army pal Steve Taylor have left their jobs in Yorkshire to use their training in the resort to look for clues to Madeleine's whereabouts.

The European Commission marked International Missing Children's Day yesterday with a plea not to forget Madeleine and other kids.

'If all three of the children had been taken, it would have been even worse'

'It wasn't really much different to having dinner in your garden'

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