Trial by Media?
A middle class family go on holiday to Portugal: two doctors, their young twins and their slightly older daughter. They stay in a beautiful villa in an idyllic resort. Disaster strikes as one night the older daughter tragically disappears into thin air prompting a worldwide hunt. The parents launch a remarkable campaign to find her. So many people go missing every day, but this little girl is different. International celebrities appeal for her to be found on television screens everywhere. The parents visit the Vatican and speak to the Pope. With four months and no breakthrough, the unthinkable happens. The parents are made prime suspects in the disappearance of their daughter. It’s high drama! To be continued…
The above paragraph sounds like an exciting and shocking pitch for the latest Hollywood film. But it’s not. It’s a simplified version of the rollercoaster which the world has been taken on in the mysterious case of Madeline McCann. Not since Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman went missing has there been more news coverage of a missing child. Their case was solved a lot quicker though, and although the culprit was a man who had appeared on TV speaking of his shock and sadness at their disappearance, it wasn’t totally unbelievable that he was the criminal. To think though that the McCann’s are now the prime suspects in the disappearance of Madeline is absolutely ludicrous. How could they possibly have done it? And how can the world allow themselves to be taken in by a sensationalist media who are obsessed with shock value and “reality” television? Because that’s what the Madeline case has become…a sort of reality TV fix which takes a new turn each day. Even the news reporting is reflective of this, with journalists questioning Kate and Gerry’s grieving process like psychologists on ‘Big Brother’. Why isn’t she more emotional, they ask. How can he be so composed in front of the world’s media in the light of what has just happened his family, they write. Don’t they take into consideration that everyone grieves in their own way? And who can say what the “correct” way to behave is when your young daughter has just disappeared without a trace in a foreign country? I am disgusted that some people are deeming the McCann’s to be suspects based solely on their behaviour. This is not enough evidence by any means.
And who can overlook the careless manner with which the case was handled throughout? There appears to be no sound evidence against the McCann’s at all. For instance, the cadaver dog evidence can be ripped to shreds by a defence barrister. They say the dogs detected the “scent of death” in the hired car. Even if they did, this means nothing. The “scent of death” is not the equivalent to the “scent of Madeline’s corpse”. According to a British pathologist, had the DNA been found in the car in a British lab, it would under no circumstances have been returned to the McCann’s. Instead it would have been kept as a critical exhibit in the court case.
Under such media scrutiny, when exactly would the McCann’s have had the chance to dispose of the body? In my opinion, had they killed Madeline by accident, surely then they would not have been able to have composed themselves in the way that they did. No human being could possibly live with the guilt of killing their daughter, dumping her body and involving the world in their tragic story.
Right now, all we have are our own opinions. However, one thing for sure is that there is someone in the world who knows exactly what happened to Madeline McCann on Thursday May 3rd 2007.