Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Russell O'Brien Statement - May 11th 2007

Processos Volume IV, pgs. 934 to 941

WITNESS STATEMENT

Name: Russell James O’Brien
Date: 2007/05/11
Time: 11H20m
Presiding officer: Maria Jose Ramos, Inspector
Executing officer: Joao Carvalho, Inspector

• Is assisted by interpreter Alice Dias Avakoff


• Confirms in the integrity of his previous declarations which correspond to the truth

• Questioned how he came to know the elements of the group which accompanied him on holidays, states that he has known David Payne since 1989, having frequented the same University where they both studied medicine.
He also worked with him in the same hospital even though in different specialities. He got to know Fiona through David Payne, a couple that married four years ago, with the deponent serving as the couple’s best man

• He got to know Matthew Oldfield in 1994, as they were both doctors. They became friends and Russell served as Matthew’s best man at his marriage to Rachel Mampilly in 1999

• He got to know Gerald (Gerry) McCann more recently, in 2002 or 2003, given that Gerry was also a doctor.
The contact between them was established by the Payne couple.
The four couples get together when they have an opportunity but, as they live certain distances from each other, they seize the opportunity to get together during holiday periods.
All the couples have children of roughly the same ages, which is also a factor in their friendships

• Questioned if anyone of them has had problems related to their profession, given that all the men of the group are doctors, and also Fiona Payne and Kate Healy, the deponent states that for his part and from what he remembers, there has never been a situation of this kind.
However, he remembers that Matthew Oldfield did experience a situation which consisted of a patient’s family member accusing the team lead by Matthew of the untimely death of his patient.
This family member accused the team of making a late diagnosis which resulted in the death of said patient.
He has no other knowledge of any threats made against Matthew Oldfield or his medical team except for this case which was formally lodged in the hospital where his team worked.
He has no knowledge of any similar situation having happened with Gerry or with Kate.
• Questioned whether problems exist between the couples, between each couple or with third parties, be these questions of professionalism or sentimental ones, or vices, states that he does not know of any.
Each couple has been together for many years and one of the points they have in common, is that there is an understanding between each couple and the couple between themselves.
When he has the opportunity of meeting up with them, they pass time together, conversing and playing activities together, for fun.
Clarifies that the couple with who has done this less is the McCanns, but he also has no knowledge of any strange or complicated situation. He has no knowledge of vices, drugs and/or games, on behalf of anyone in the group.

• Questioned, states that this was the second time that the four couples came together (the first was at David and Fiona’s marriage, in Italy), although he has already vacationed with two or three couples, but not with the group presently in Portugal.
He remembers that, in September of 2005, three couples, excluding the deponent and his wife, went on holiday to Mallorca and that they did not accompany them as Jane tanner was in the final stages of pregnancy.
They travelled together, as did the other couples, to David and Fiona’s marriage, which occurred in Italy.

• These holidays were combined between themselves, and it was David and Fiona Payne who organised the details.
The deponent and his companion Jane tanner travelled with Matthew and Rachel and their respective children on the plane given the tourist package that they had organised initially.
Because he does not know, he cannot say who took care of the details but believes that it was David Payne who took care of the major part of the formalities with the agency.

• Because they travelled at different times, the four couples only came together at the Ocean Club resort to have dinner around 18H00 in the Milenium Restaurant which is located inside the resort.
As he remembers, when the travel was booked, the apartments of the four couples were located close to each other in the same block, to make it easier to check on the children.
The Milenium Restaurant habitually served food after 19H30 – except on Saturdays.
Guests, who normally arrived on Saturday, do not have to have a previous booking – this time was late for the children, and thus they opted to have dinner, after that day, in the Tapas Restaurant.
That restaurant is situated next to the pool, in the patio areas of the block of apartments where they found themselves lodged.
The deponent furthers that the daughters of David and Fiona Payne are very agitated, and that they preferred to be the closest possible to the apartment. All the couples agreed, without objections.

• The deponent clarifies that, when they were on holiday in Greece via a booking with Markwarner, they verified that they had available a type of service called “baby listening”, clarifying that it consisted of leaving the children asleep, at home, while the parents went out to dinner, with the checking of the children carried out by nannies, who would listen close to the room windows, to hear if the children were crying, immediately informing the parents, if there was a problem.
He explains that Markwarner makes this service available in Greece, but that in Portugal it is not—a fact that they came to know when they made their bookings.
In the Luz Ocean Club, a baby-sitter service is offered so that the adults can dine.
This service is free.
However, the children do not stay at home, but in the crèche installations.
The nanny service costs around 15 euros per hour and functions until 01H00.
 In this case, they opted for a type of vigilance of the children like that they experienced in Greece.
They thought that, given the number of adults present, it would be easy to carry out.
Sporadically, when someone would get up, they would offer to go and listen for other couple’s children, next to the window of their rooms.
Questioned, the deponent clarifies that the Payne couple did not get up as they had a baby monitor on the table, that they considered sufficient and did not consider is necessary to personally check on the children.
States that he does not know how many times each member of a couple got up to check on their respective children, and that he and Jane Tanner found it more convenient to check on their own children.

• Because he is asked, states that he went to the apartment of the McCann couple once but does not remember if he was asked to go or went of his own accord.
He furthers that he did not know if the glass sliding doors were locked or not but that probably Gerry told him on this night to enter his apartment to check on the children.
The deponent explains that for him and his spouse, this system was secure and effective and each couple would check on their children every 15/30 minutes.
For his part, he guarantees that all the doors and windows were closed and locked, explaining that the windows and the glass sliding doors can only be open and closed via the interior of the apartment.
 As he understood, only Gerald and Kate used the system of entering through the sliding doors, as this was easier.
They stayed in the apartment closest to the pathway and there was a corridor in the back area that gave access to the stairs.
The rest of the elements of the group went via the passage-way, until the corner and would enter through their front doors.
When the carried out the audio checks, they would position themselves near the windows and would try to hear if noise was coming from inside or crying.

• Questioned regarding his routine during the holidays, he confirms in all of his previous declarations and that his version is absolutely in line with his companion’s Jane Tanner.
He also verifies in the total conformity between his declarations and those of Jane Tanner regarding the holiday trip, of the constitution of the group and of the daily routine of the adults and the children which accompanied this group in the tourist complex, the Ocean Club, in Praia da Luz-Lagos.

• Until the past Thursday, 3rd of May 2007, he has no knowledge of any strange/suspicious happenings in the group of friends or with the children. Everything to him seemed normal, from the cleaning staff, gardeners, and the rest of the functionaries of the complex.
He also saw no strange people on the beach who looked of a suspicious nature.

• Questioned, states that no one from the group used a vehicle, particular or rented and that they went everywhere in Praia da Luz on foot.

• He made note of the activities on the 3rd of May p.p.. This note consists of all the facts presented, of his activities and those of the group. They are in accordance with the version already represented by his wife, Jane Tanner.

• Regarding the night period, affirms that, on this day, around 19H15/19H30 he went to his apartment. Told his daughters some stories, having stayed with E**e O’Brien, who was a little better but had a hard time sleeping.
Meanwhile, his companion Jane went to dinner in the restaurant—the Tapas—around 20H35/20H40 with the deponent going around 20H45.
As the menu was always the same, the group already knew what plates made up the menu, for this reason the deponent told his wife what he wanted, and that she place the order, while he tried to put E**e down.

• When he arrived at the restaurant, all the adults were there, without the children. David and Fiona were missing and Dianne Webster. They arrived more or less 10 minutes after.

• Around 2100 they ordered dinner.

• As was normal, in more or less every 15/30 minutes, one person from each apartment would go to the apartments/rooms to check on the children and if they were well. On that day, as E**e O’Brien was ill, this time was reduced.

• He remembers that Matthew Oldfield left the restaurant, around 21H00, having gone to the apartments to ensure that no noise was coming from within.

• He is not sure who left first. But has the notion that, about five minutes after, Gerry McCann went to check on his children.
Around 5 or 10 minutes after Gerry McCann had left, the deponent’s companion, Jane Tanner, also left, to check personally on how her two children were doing.
He does remember if Jane or Gerry arrived first but remembers that Jane commented on having passed Gerry on the road, and that he was talking to another guest in the same locale, named Jez.

• Around 21h25, taking advantage of a pause in the service of the first plate, the deponent left the restaurant with Matthew Oldfield to check on the children.
He arrived at his apartment and immediately heard his daughter E**e crying and stayed in the apartment.
He believes that Matthew Oldfield went to his apartment, and is not aware if he was going to also check on the McCann children and went to the deponent’s apartment and asked him if he needed help.

• Matthew Odlfield returned to the restaurant, having told Jane Tanner that the deponent stayed behind with E**e O’Brien because she was crying.

The truth is that after the crying, the deponent had to change all the sheets and his daughter’s clothing as she had vomited.

• His companion came to change places with him 15 minutes after and told him to go finish dinner.

• Around 21H55, he returned to the restaurant, having stayed there for 5/10 minutes waiting to be served his plate. At this point, all the others had already finished eating.

• Around 22H00, Kate Healy left to check on the children in her apartment an returned in desperation, entered the restaurant screaming, in the direction of the table where the group was seated, affirming that Madeleine McCann has disappeared.

All of them left, except Dianne Webster, and the deponent with some other people decided to start looking around the apartment blocks, and in the apartments, to see if they could find Madeleine.

• In the searches they carried out, after the disappearance, they did not identify any element/person/or suspicious object.

• Because he is asked, states that he cannot describe the state of the children’s room after the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, because he never entered there.
When they were alerted to the situation, they immediately left the table, and the deponent immediately began searching the immediate areas, heading towards the village and the beach zone.

• Questioned regarding if he noticed whether the blind to the children’s room was up or down, states that he cannot answer because he did not look.
He remembers that when he went to check on his children, together with Matthew Oldfield, they were talking and did not look to the windows.

• Questioned whether he knows if Matthew Oldfield went, or not, to check on the McCann children, he states that he does not know as he stayed with his daughter E**e O’Brien in the apartment, but heard, after, a comment that he was supposed to have gone, but that in the checking, he went to the outside of the door to the room, saw the twins, and not Madeleine McCann’s bed, which was situated at an angle which did not give him visual contact.


The room: Madeleine's bed, left, the twins' cots and an empty bed under the shuttered window
The room: Madeleine's bed, left, the twins' cots and an empty bed under the shuttered window

• States that he has no suspicion to present, and doe not remember any detail of situation that could be related to the disappearance of little Madeleine McCann.

• States that he does not remember any discussion between any of the couples, or any other element of the group with him, nor equally between any of the group with a third-party.

• The deponent remembers only one episode, that for him did not have any importance, but that, given the circumstances, make him relate it.
States that between the activities of tennis and others on the beach, he took notice of an individual who he only knows as NIGEL—a British individual, married, and with a daughter of ¾ years whose name is Ixxx.
He had trivial conversations with him.
On the day of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, in the late morning, part of the group, with their children, were next to the tennis courts when NIGEL approached him.
They were filming his daughter, with a video camera, and that, questioned, the deponent states that he does not remember seeing anyone with such an apparatus.
Considering the current particulars of paedophilia, they conversed and the deponent considered this perfectly normal.
Nigel had commented that he felt uncomfortable in having his daughter filmed.
The deponent finished by concurring with him and together they spoke about the ridiculous situation and “the state to which the world has come”.
The deponent states that he has no reason to suspect NIGEL, in any circumstances whatsoever, and that he appeared to him a normal citizen, with a normal family.
He never again thought about this conversation and only reports it of all the situations of the week, he has no incident to register or relate.

• States that what he has just related is the truth of the facts.

• At this moment a mouth swab collection was requested of him, to be taken by Special Adjunct Irene Trovao, police officer in the current investigation.
The same, and voluntarily accedes to the request and signs the respective declaration of consent, after it is read and translated by the interpreter, who has also signed together with the deponent.

• And nothing more was said…