We hope whoever took her is sad & not bad

We hope whoever took her is sad & not bad
The search for Madeleine Day 31
The Sunday Mirror
3 June 2007
Lori Campbell in Praia da Luz, Portugal

THE parents of Madeleine McCann told last night how they are clinging to the hope that the person who snatched her is sad, not bad.  Mum Kate says: "We know there are bad people out there, but we know there are also a lot of sad people. We hope it's the latter." At the couple's apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, dad Gerry adds: "You can imagine different people wanting children for different reasons. Some of those reasons are much more sinister than others. We try not to think about that. There are a number of scenarios and it is safe to say we have thought about all of the possibilities. Until we actually know who has taken her and what's happened to her, it's hard to think it through."

Exactly a month after Madeleine was snatched on Thursday, May 3, Gerry and Kate have opened their hearts for the first time about their darkest fear... that their precious daughter may no longer be alive.  But they are bravely determined not to be dragged into what they call a "spiral of despair" by dwelling on such a negative possibility - or to even think about pointing the finger of blame at each other.

Gerry says: "We are in this together. Of course we feel guilty. We feel that we have let her down. We were not there at that moment she was abducted. But we have never subconsciously or consciously thought, 'It's Kate's fault, it's my fault'.  "We are responsible parents. When something terrible happens, in any walk of life, people look to blame people. We are a couple. We are her parents, we love her absolutely desperately. We certainly don't go along with blame and divisiveness."

Gerry and Kate, both 38, have impressed the world with their show of courage, determination and dignity during the hunt to find their daughter. But yesterday they revealed the inner torture they are enduring as they battle against thoughts of what may have happened to her.  Gerry says: "Of course we believe Madeleine is still alive, but you would be incredible if you hadn't considered the worst scenario that she's dead."

Looking down at her lap and holding Gerry's hand tightly, Kate says: "Everybody has considered that."  Gerry says they have allowed themselves to think about the person who snatched Madeleine from her bed. They just pray that she is being cared for.  "Madeleine did not deserve this," he says. "She did not deserve to be abducted.  "It is heart-wrenching for everyone involved and we pray constantly that she is well and being looked after."

In their fight to remain positive, Gerry says they try to block out their thoughts of Madeleine's kidnapper.  "It is pure speculation that leads us into negative thoughts," he says. "We don't think for any length of time about who might have her or why they have her. Therefore it is hard to generate our anger."

Kate, still clutching the Cuddle Cat toy that has not left her side since four-year-old Madeleine disappeared, adds: "We have anger. But it is anger at the situation. I think that is part of the normal grieving process."

Gerry says: "It's like the same as having a bereavement, being diagnosed with cancer. There's a lot of mixed emotions, and anger is one of them."

Giving a rare glimpse of the anger he feels towards Madeleine's kidnapper, Gerry says: "There is no doubt that it is an evil act. That is the simplest way to say it without getting into very strong words." But he says they refuse to think for long about their worst fears and cling to the hope that Madeleine is alive.  "Until we are sure what has happened, it is hard to sort any of these thoughts," he says.

Kate, wearing green and yellow ribbons on her belt for hope and remembrance, spoke of the terrible guilt they feel for having left Madeleine on the night she was taken.

The couple, from Rothely, Leicestershire, took turns to check on their three children every half hour as they ate at a Tapas restaurant 50 yards from their holiday apartment. But when Kate returned at 10pm, Madeleine was gone.

Kate also reveals that they find thinking about Madeleine too painful, but that too has left them plagued with guilt.  "In the first three days it was virtually impossible to shut the negative thoughts out, but you realise that as a coping strategy you have to do that," she says. "We both said you feel guilty for not thinking about her.  "Normally we'd be thinking about her all the time. It's important for us and for her that we don't become negative, and we're not."

Gerry says: "You'd be inhuman if you were able to block this out completely. But I have become good at blocking it out because when I get into the negatives it takes me back, it sort of spirals downwards into despair. We have our low moments, but we have been very positive. We will not give up until there is absolutely no hope."

Kate says: "We don't know where she is - that is the bottom line. We'd like to think she's still in Portugal. But we know there's a possibility she's gone over the border or several borders."

Asked how he imagines Madeleine, Gerry says he cannot bear to think about where she is now. His image of her is stuck in time. He remembers her as the happy, giggling little girl she was when he last saw her.

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

The couple, who are devoting nearly all of their time to the international campaign to find Madeleine, say they remain buoyed by hope that they will be reunited with her.

Kate says: "We still have hope because we don't have any news to suggest otherwise. It's really important that we do have that hope, that we remain positive, because that is the way we are going to get her back.  "As time goes on, everyone gets quite negative. Every day is one too many."

Gerry adds: "If we knew who had her, and they had a track record, we'd say the chances of her being alive are diminishing. But even then, there are cases where someone comes out well at the end of it."

The couple, who have found great comfort in their Catholic faith and met the Pope in a special Vatican audience last week, say they cannot consider forgiving Madeleine's abductor until they know what happened to her.  Gerry says: "Forgiveness is something we will address when we've found her and we know what's happened and who's taken her."

Portuguese detectives have faced growing criticism over the way the investigation has been handled. Despite the hunt for Madeleine being publicised worldwide, they have uncovered few clues and appear to be no closer to finding her.

But, determined to remain positive, Gerry says: "Of course we are frustrated and desperate that we don't have her. I can understand why some would say that there has been a lack of progress, but the police are working through things systematically.

"The investigation now is as good or almost as good as it ever can be. Expert help from the UK has added to the strong desire and hard work of the Portugese detectives. This is possibly one of the biggest investigations ever in Portugal. There is a huge amount of information being processed by the Portugese and British police."

However, it took police three weeks to release a description of a man seen carrying a child away from the McCann's apartment on the night, even though it was a family friend of the McCanns who reported the sighting.

Gerry says: "We all supported each other during the traumatic period. We are very good friends and continue to support each other."

Kate, who has visibly lost weight since Madeleine's disappearance, said they have tried to look after their health for the sake of their two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie.  She says: "In the first few days your appetite just goes and you can't sleep. I think that's a normal reaction. Then something kicks in and things return."

Gerry says: "For the first three days I was forcing myself to eat and drink. But now, apart from when I have blips or the dark, negative thoughts kick in, I feel pretty normal physically. Night times are always the hardest. When you go to bed you tend to be more contemplative. But we are usually so tired by then we fall asleep quite quickly."

Kate says looking after the twins has given them some small relief from their constant nightmare. "They are young enough to not have a great concept of what's going on, or of time. They are a lot of fun and keep us going."

Gerry says: "The fact that Sean and Amelie are twins helps. They are too young to know Madeleine has been missing for a long time. We have to make sure we give them the love and attention they need."

The couple now plan to visit European cities to publicise the hunt for their daughter. They are also planning a global Madeleine Day to raise awareness that she is still missing. Gerry says they hope to hold a massive concert or sports event to mark the day later this year.

Meanwhile, he says they still can't bear to think about returning home to the UK without Madeleine. "I would have to feel that the investigation in Portugal was exhausted," he says. "This is where she was abducted from - the investigation is centred around here. We want to be close to that."

We have never once thought of blaming each other

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