How could police drop ash on clues?

22 October 2007
The Sun
Clodagh Hartley In Praia Da Luz and Antonella Lazzeri
Maddie parents' fury at evidence contamination

Angry Kate and Gerry McCann were "horrified" yesterday that cops' CIGARETTE ASH could have contaminated evidence about daughter Maddie's disappearance.

The blunder by careless Portuguese cops was discovered by forensic experts studying samples from the McCanns' apartment in Praia da Luz.

Yesterday a close friend of the McCanns, both 39, said: "It is outrageous to think that messy cops could have ruined vital evidence about Maddie's abductor."

The ash was dropped by at least three detectives who trampled in and out of the apartment on May 4, the day after Maddie, four, vanished.

A new team of cops who have taken over the investigation said it was never properly sealed off as a crime scene.

And a holidaymaker staying nearby branded the forensic operation "haphazard".

Suzanne McGee, from Ireland, said: "I saw one lady forensic person remove her mask and light a cigarette. It just looked all wrong."

Portugal's top homicide cop Chief Inspector Antonio Teixeira, 59, has joined the team in Praia da Luz. A senior police source said: "In inviting him to the case, the Policia Judiciaria show that the homicide theory reigns."

Police - who admit they have leaked information to the press - also revealed they plan to re-interview the friends who ate with the McCanns the night Maddie vanished. One police theory is that Kate accidentally killed Maddie and that Gerry helped to cover it up. The couple, now back home in Rothley, Leics, strongly deny any involvement.

Gerry McCann wants to return to his job as a consultant cardiologist at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital before Christmas, it was confirmed yesterday.

Part-time GP Kate has previously said she can't contemplate working while Maddie is missing.

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