Judge's plea to Maddie abductor: Show mercy

July 8, 2008
Daily Mail
Vanessa Allen

A judge yesterday begged Madeleine McCann's abductor to 'show mercy and come forward'. In an astonishing plea, Mrs Justice Hogg called for an end to Kate and Gerry McCann's 14 months of suffering and said she prayed Madeleine would be found alive soon. The British High Court judge gave the couple fresh hope in the hunt for their missing daughter by ordering British police to hand over a dossier containing the details of 81 potential witnesses. She said Leicestershire Police should pass on information about those who had tried to contact the McCanns in the immediate aftermath of their daughter's disappearance in Portugal days before her fourth birthday.

In an impassioned speech, given as part of her ruling, the judge pleaded with other witnesses to come forward to end the mystery surrounding Madeleine's disappearance on May 3 last year from the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz. She said: 'There is, of course, at least one person who knows what has happened to Madeleine, and where she may be found. I ponder about that person, whether that person has a heart and can understand what it must be like for Madeleine to have been torn and secreted from her parents and siblings whom she loves and felt secure with, and whom no doubt [she] misses and grieves for.

'Whether that person has a conscience or any feeling of guilt, remorse or even cares about the hurt which has been caused to an innocent little girl, whether that person has a faith and belief, and what explanation or justification that person will give to God, I entreat that person, whoever and wherever you may be, to show mercy and compassion and come forward now to tell us where Madeleine is to be found. 'I hope and pray that Madeleine will be found very soon, alive and well.'

Mrs Justice Hogg's plea was made all the more extraordinary by the fact that the McCanns, both 40, remain official suspects in the case. But there is growing confidence that their 'arguido' (suspect) status will be lifted soon, as the Portuguese police investigation is expected to be formally completed within weeks.

The couple, both doctors from Rothley, Leicestershire, central England, did not attend the hearing at the High Court in London as they are on holiday with their twins Sean and Amelie - their first holiday since Madeleine's disappearance. The 61-year-old judge said she had told their lawyers they did not have to attend court. She said: 'They have suffered enough, and I wished to ease their burden. They have behaved responsibly and reasonably throughout.'

The judge's unequivocal support for the McCanns is likely to attract criticism in Portugal, where there has been resentment over perceived interference in the case by the British government. Mr and Mrs McCann won support from the British prime minister and the British foreign secretary, David Miliband, in the aftermath of Madeleine's disappearance, although all direct contact with the couple stopped after they were named as official suspects.

Their spokesman Clarence Mitchell said they were 'strengthened and touched' by the judge's words. He said the couple's private detectives would examine the new information from Leicestershire Police, adding: 'It only takes one piece of information that could lead us to Madeleine.'

The McCanns had asked the court to order the police force to hand over every scrap of information relating to their daughter's disappearance. Leicestershire Police refused to do so, arguing that it should not be forced to reveal details of investigations, but agreed to hand over details of the 81 witnesses who had attempted to contact the McCanns directly. Tim Scott QC, for the McCanns, said the couple expected to have access to more information in Portugal when the case there is formally closed.

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