Tuesday, May 22, 2007


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Police are 'losing hope' of finding missing toddler alive.

By Kim Sengupta
Published: 22 May 2007

British police have appealed for tourists who were in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz in the fortnight before four-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared to send them holiday photographs with strangers in the background so they can check them against a database of the UK's paedophiles.

The pictures will be run through a face recognition programme which can trawl 1,000 photographs an hour for matches with known paedophiles' mugshots. The software can also identify potential suspects unknown to the police if they appear repeatedly.

Officers made their appeal hours before Madeleine's father, Gerry McCann, met supporters who had gathered in his family's home town of Rothley, Leicestershire, to greet him on his first trip back to the UK since his daughter disappeared on 3 May.

Mr McCann saw the thousands of yellow ribbons tied to the railings of the town's war memorial, read the messages attached to them and chatted to members of the community who had come to meet him.

Yellow ribbons have become a symbol of the support for Madeleine's family, and Mr McCann tied on one of his own.

At the end of his 15-minute visit, he embraced his friend, Valerie Armstrong, who is the owner of the Royal Oak pub. She said: "He said he was so appreciative of what is going on here, and he does gain strength from what is happening here."

Mr McCann flew home on Sunday night and will meet the organisers of a fund set up to continue the search for his daughter before he returns to Portugal, where his wife Kate has stayed with their young twins.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "Mr McCann is here for a number of reasons ­ to attend to a few personal matters, to meet police and, of course, to thank everybody once again for the overwhelming support they have had from around the world."


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Tears in eyes, Madeleine's dad visits the yellow ribbons.
By Rod Chaytor 22/05/2007

ANGUISHED Gerry McCann fought back tears as he read heartfelt messages of hope for his missing daughter Madeleine yesterday.

The 38-year-old spent 15 minutes gazing at thousands of yellow ribbon tributes in his village of Rothley, Leics.

Gerry told friends: "The support is fantastic. We are planning a big party when we return with Madeleine. We've seen all the support here on the TV from Portugal and it has really helped us. People's reaction has been incredible."

Gerry, back in Britain for talks with police co-ordinating the UK end of the search for Madeleine, was clearly emotional as he walked alone among the sea of messages to the four-year-old. But he maintained his composure as he thanked well-wishers.

He paused at one card pinned to the village war memorial that read: "Dear Madeleine. Hope you come back as soon as possible. Take care." In one touching moment he stopped to chat with eight-year-old Molly Earp who handed him one of many specially printed cards with a prayer for Madeleine.

Molly said: "I told him I wanted him to take our prayers back to his family in Portugal. He said 'Thanks very much.'" Molly's mum Michelle added: "It brought tears to my eyes."

Family friend Valerie Armstrong burst into tears after giving Gerry a hug. She said: "He was very positive."

Gerry, who is due back in Portugal today, arrived at the scene with a foreign office official who said: "He wanted to come to express his thanks to everyone for their support round the world but especially here."

In Praia da Luz, Madeleine's mum Kate, 38, holidaymakers and police fell silent yesterday during a "minute of hope" for the youngster at midday.

Kate had left a prayer service 15 minutes early to observe the silence in private.


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