Soham detective blasts Madeleine McCann investigation

PUBLISHED: 13:05 22 October 2007 | UPDATED: 12:57 04 May 2010

Madeline McCann has been missing since May 3.

Madeline McCann has been missing since May 3.

By ADAM LAZZARI THE Soham murder detective who caught Ian Huntley has blasted Portugese police for their handling of the Madeline McCann investigation. Retired Det Chief Supt Chris Stevenson, 58, said officers in Praia de Luz are too inexperienced and ill

By ADAM LAZZARI

THE Soham murder detective who caught Ian Huntley has blasted Portuguese police for their handling of the Madeleine McCann investigation.

Retired Det Chief Supt Chris Stevenson, 58, said officers in Praia de Luz are too inexperienced and ill-equipped to deal with the case.

He believes police were too slow off the mark when the four-year-old went missing, on May 3, and that she will probably never be found alive.

Speaking to a national newspaper, Mr Stevenson said: "If you don't immediately realise what you are dealing with, you get caught and make major forensic errors.

"That's what appears to have happened in the Maddie case. This was a child missing from home but they didn't seem to have thought anything suspicious might have happened at first. In Britain we refer to this period immediately after a child vanishes as the 'golden hours.'"

Stevenson, the senior officer in charge of the Soham investigation when Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman , both 10, went missing in 2002, went to Portugal with a team of Britain's top crime experts to analyse the handling of the inquiry.

His three-day investigation was broadcast in the Channel 4 documentary, Searching for Madeleine: A Dispatches Special, which was aired last week.

The investigation pointed out:

* That Portuguese police only had two similar cases in the last 15 years and were unwilling to accept advice from the UK.

* Portuguese police are hampered by secrecy laws which forbid them from speaking openly.

* There is a lack of a proper DNA database or sex offenders register.

# There are fundamental errors in the way forensic evidence is gathered and crime scenes are preserved.

In the documentary, Mr Stevenson said: "The intention was never to do a hatchet job on the Portuguese police - but the inescapable conclusion is that they are totally ill-equipped for the job.

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