We HAVE feared Maddie may be dead

We HAVE feared Maddie may be dead
Ross Hall in Praia da Luz, Portugal
3 June 2007
The News of the World

Parents admit they've faced worst terror of all

MAddie McCann's anguished parents today open their hearts in an emotional interview-and reveal the agony over their missing daughter is "like a cancer" eating away at them.

And for the the first time they speak of their worst fear of all...that their little girl may be dead.

Sitting side by side on a beach not far from the Portugal apartment complex where Maddie was kidnapped 31 days ago, Gerry and Kate McCann still cling desperately to the word that pervades almost ever sentence they speak-hope.

But Gerry, 38, confesses: "There are a number of scenarios and it's safe to say we've thought about all of them.

"Of course we have considered Maddie is dead. But there is still hope. You might argue that the hope is diminishing as time goes on but there is still an investigation and that is still active.

"We will not give up until there is absolutely no hope left. We have got to believe she's alive and out there somewhere. If you give up hope you're basically saying she's dead.

"But everything is pure speculation and that leads us into negative thoughts and one thing that we don't think about for any length of time is who might have her, and why they have her.

"The feeling is like having a bereavement or being diagnosed with cancer."

Kate, still clutching tightly onto Madeleine's favourite toy Cuddle Cat just as she has done every day since her disappearance, adds: "We still have hope because we don't have any news to suggest otherwise.


"It's really important that we have that hope and remain positive, because that's the way we're going to get her back."

"In the first three days it was virtually impossible to shut out the negative thoughts. But you soon realise that as a coping strategy you have to do that. It is important for us and for her that we don't become negative-and we're not."

Gerry nods knowingly: "I think you would be inhumane if you were able to block these things out completely. But I know that it doesn't help me, and it doesn't help us influence the search for Madeleine.

"We have our low moments but generally what you see with us is what you get. We have been very positive, we know it helps us, we know it helps other people looking for Madeleine."

They have given themselves little time to be negative amid the whirlwind of the international campaign they have launched to find their beloved four-year old.

In the past few days the couple have been to Rome to meet the Pope and made a TV appeal in Spain.

But despite a huge poster campaign, a well-visited website findmadeleine.co.uk, personal appeals from dozens of celebrities and a Pounds 1.5million reward offer from the News of the World, there has been no concrete evidence to lead to Maddie's whereabouts-or any clues to who may have her.

"You can imagine different people wanting children for different reasons," says Gerry. "Some of those reasons are muchmore sinister than others, but we really don't try to think about that. We pray constantly that Madeleine is well and being looked after."

Fighting back tears Kate adds: "We have anger but it's anger at the situation, "We know there are bad people out there but there are also a lot of sad people. We just hope it's the latter."

Meanwhile Gerry admits he gets the strength to go on by holding onto his memories of Maddie-her big bright smile and long blonde hair etched in his mind.

"When I think about her now it's thinking about the little happy three, nearly four-year-old, doing things. It's playing with her and all the things which are so special to us. It's not about where she is now," he says.

"Night time is always the hardest. When you are going to bed you tend to be more contemplative. But we're usually so tired we do actually fall asleep quite quickly."

Their greatest solace, apart from the overwhelming public support they have had, has been their faith. Both Catholics, their meeting with the Pope gave them a huge lift.

Kate says: "We think our faith has been very important. We've had a lot of support from the local community and the local church. And meeting the Pope was a great comfort."

The worst thing about going to Rome was having to leave their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie behind. Although they were being looked after by close family, it was the first time they had left them overnight.

"It was very difficult. You know you want them with you," says Kate. "Leaving them is not ideal, but then none of this is. But we're doing it for Madeleine."

Since she was snatched from their apartment in Praia da Luz, while Gerry and Kate ate dinner with friends in a nearby restaurant, there have been harsh accusations aimed at them.

But the couple are unwavering in their support for each other. With his arm around Kate, Gerry says: "We are in this together. Of course we feel guilty. We feel we have let her down. We were not there at that moment that she was abducted.


"We love her absolutely desperately, but what we're focusing on is what we can do to influence things. We have never subconsciously or consciously thought 'It was Kate's fault' or 'It was my fault'.

"We're a couple in this. We are responsible parents. When something terrible happens in any walk of life people look to blame people.

"What we need to look at is the person who took her. It's not our fault. "

The McCanns-who are expected to fly to Berlin, Amsterdam and Morocco next in their bid to raise the profile of Madeleine's case-have no intention of heading back to their home in Rothley, Leics.

"To go home I would have to feel that the investigation in Portugal had been exhausted," says Gerry. "I think we are a long way from that.

"We are frustrated and desperate that we don't have Madeleine, but the Portuguese police are making progress.

"We want to be here. This is where she was abducted from. And while there is hope we will not give up."

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