Chapter 3: Curtains, Door and Windows

We examine Kate's claim that the door slammed, and when she went in the curtains “Whooshed” open.

In 2008 Kate McCann gave an interview in which she described graphically what happened when she entered the apartment for her check, and discovered Madeleine to be missing.

“I did my check about ten o’clock and went in through the sliding patio doors, and I just stood actually, and I thought, uh, all quiet. And to be honest, I might have been tempted to turn round then, but I just noticed that the door, the bedroom door where the three children were sleeping, was open much further than we’d left it.
I went to close it to about here, and then as I got to here, it suddenly . . . slammed, and as I opened it, it was then, that I just thought I’ll just look at the children.
I see Sean and Amelie in the cot . . . .
I was looking at Madeleine’s bed which is here, and it was dark and I was looking and I was thinking is that, is that Madeleine or is that the bedding and I couldn't quite make her out, and it sounds really stupid now, but at the time I was just thinking I didn’t want to put the light on because I didn't want to wake them, and literally as I went back in, the curtains of the bedroom which were drawn,
[demonstrates with both forearms together] that were closed, “wheesh’ like a gust of wind kind of blew them open.
And cuddle cat was still there, and the pink blanket was still there. I knew straight away that, err, she’d been . . . taken, yer know.”  

We notice a number of significant points in this interview.

• We are told that the door was open “further than we had left it”, but on the video it is clear and demonstrated that this did not mean fully open.

• We are told that the curtains were fully closed, and this is demonstrated on the video by the forearms being held vertically in front of the body and together

• We are told that the curtains blew into the room.

There are problems with this version of events.

If the curtains had blown up in the manner described they would have fallen back onto the bed, and have been lying across the bedclothes and across the chair

The photos taken by the PJ show clearly that the curtains are hanging down, and held firmly, one trapped down the side of the bed against the wall, and the other behind the wicker chair. The folds in each curtain are clearly flattened against the wall by the furniture.

The bed is unmade. It is alleged that Kate had slept in this bed the night before.

The photos show the windows closed. They are of the type that lock together automatically when closed, and require a finger inserted into the black mechanism in the centre to release the catch. They also show the shutters in the almost closed position [2]

And the photos also show the curtains half closed, the left curtain slightly more closed than the right one. [3]


From Kate’s police statement, dated 4th May we learn,

“At around 10pm, the witness came to check on the children. She went into the apartment by the side door, which was closed, but unlocked, as already said, and immediately noticed that the door to her children's bedroom was completely open, the window was also open, the shutters raised and the curtains open, while she was certain of having closed them all as she always did.”  

Gerry’s statement of 4th May does contain hearsay evidence, but as husband and wife they have obviously spoken between themselves, and the statement can be taken at face value.

“At 10pm, his wife Kate went to check on the children. She went into the apartment through the door using her key and saw right away that the children’s bedroom door was completely open, the window was also open, the shutters raised and the curtains drawn open. The side door that opens into the living room, which as said earlier, was never locked, was closed.”  [5]

In Gerry’s 10th May statement we find
“The deponent ran into the apartment accompanied by the rest of the group who, at the time, were seated at the table. When he arrived at the bedroom he first noticed that the door was completely open, the window was also open to one side, the shutters almost fully raised, the curtains drawn back, MADELEINE’s bed was empty but the twins continued sleeping in their cots. He clarifies that according to what KATE told him, that was the scenario that she found when she entered the apartment.
Then he closed the shutters, made his way to the outside and tried to open them, which he managed to do, much to his surprise given that he thought that that was only possible from the inside. “

Kate made the first half of a statement on 6th September, but it was adjourned late at night, to be resumed the following day. It was at this point that the events of late evening of 3rd May were about to to be discussed.

The following day Kate immediately exercised her right to remain silent as arguida and said nothing more of evidential interest. The more detailed analysis of her story was therefore never undertaken.

• in the original statements the curtains were drawn back, or fully open.
• in the police photos they are half drawn.
• In the subsequent explanation they are fully closed

In addition the windows are sliding, so only one half can be open, that pane moving in front of the other. A gust of wind would therefore disturb only one curtain.

But now let us examine the story around the children’s bedroom door.

In her police statement of 4th May, which was then confirmed, albeit in hearsay form in both of Gerry’s statements, she says, explicitly, “. . .the children’s bedroom door was completely open”. The same form of words is used by Gerry. “the door was completely open”. and he clarifies that this is what he was told by Kate.

But months later the story of the slamming door, and the door left open a bit more than we had left it, is told to journalists as in the video [q.v.], and it is this version which appears in the book.

p. 71 “Then I noticed that the door to the children’s bedroom was open quite wide, not how we had left it. At first I assumed that Matt must have moved it. I walked over and gently began to pull it to. Suddenly it slammed shut, as if caught by a draught.”  [7]

Leaving aside for a moment the clear indication in that passage, and in the video, [see transcript] that Kate had no intention of looking in at the children, this is clearly at odds with all the police statements so far given, which emphasise and repeat that the door was “completely open”

What are the possible ways of understanding this paradox ?

The first option is that Kate immediately started rearranging the room, but in this case did not make the bed, which was still unmade from the previous night.
It is of interest to note that she had not even pulled the bed straight when she got up, or when she made Madeleine's bed, which is neat and tidy in the photos, with the corner neatly turned down, giving at least the appearance that no one had slept in it. [8]

But she must have tucked the curtains back down the crack between the bed and the wall, certainly having to move the bed out to do so, and made sure they were hanging properly, before pushing it back against the wall before the police arrived.

She must also have done this before returning to the Tapas bar to give the alert, as none of the friends mention any such activity.

Again she must also have partially closed the curtains, since both statements insist that the curtains were “open”, “drawn open” or “drawn back”. and in the photos they are not.

The second option is that the curtains did not "whoosh".
And if the curtains did not "Whoosh" then the door did not slam.

It is important to remember that it was not reported in either of Gerry’s statements, nor in Kate’s statement that the curtains blew open or that the door slammed. This detail was only reported by Kate to journalists several months later.

The weather that night was mild, with a light breeze,. In Faro it was recorded as reaching only Force 3. At 10pm only 14.4kph. This is the bottom end of Force 3. [9]

Beaufort Force 3 Gentle breeze 12–19 km/h (3–5 m/s)
Leaves and small twigs constantly moving, light flags extended.

Might that be enough to slam a door ? Or to whoosh a curtain trapped behind a bed ?

Neither Kate nor Gerry mentions closing the window.
In her statement Kate does not mention Gerry’s closing and opening the shutters.

In view of the evidence of the above, one is surely entitled to question the “official account” or indeed any of them, in that they seem unsupported by evidence.



See 1:15 onwards



4 Witness statement of Kate Marie Healy, 4th May 2007,
Processos Vol I, pages 58-65

5  Witness statement of Gerald Patrick McCann, 4th May 2007,
Processos Vol I, pages 34 - 41

6 Witness statement of Gerald Patrick McCann, 10th May 2007.
Processos Vol I, pages 891-903

7 ‘”madeleine’”, Kate McCann, Random Press, 2011, at p. 71