Cape Town property developer, Stephen Birch, has been independently investigating the case of missing Madeleine McCann for the past 15 months, finishing on the 13th June. He then travelled to London to meet his attorney and hire a ground penetrating imaging device. He took this device with him to Lisbon. Once in Portugal he claims he illegally entered the property at least 5 times at night to use the radar in search for the remains. He says his scans clear show a cavity and an object in the cavity. He says that the cavity is 400-600mm under the driveway on the property. He claims that the location of the cavity is consistent with previous investigations findings. When asked why he has reportedly spent more than R500000 and 15months to produce the alleged evidence contained in a 12000 page report, he said it was an emotional journey that kept developing as he was involved. He has since been contacted by Scotland Yard who have discussed his findings, however the Portuguese authorities have closed the case and he said they are caught up in judicial issues. He has not ever been in contact with the family and wants to keep it that way as he is operating independently. He ended by saying that he needed to get closure on that particular property.
Guest: Stephen Birch
Position: Property Developer
Click arrow to listen
PRESENTER Thanks Sara. A very big story in the UK at the moment where the saga of Madeleine McCann remains an interest, a matter of great, great public interest. And they are reporting that a South African property developer, Stephen Birch, claims he has found the remains of Madeleine McCann. Stephen is on the line to us now from Cape Town. Good Afternoon.
BIRCH Hi, John. Thanks for having me on your show.
PRESENTER So what, what exactly are you claiming, Stephen?
BIRCH Well erm, we’ve er, I’ve, I’ve undertaken a fifteen month, you know, investigation into the Madeleine McCann case. And er, we finished off the investigation on the 13th of June this year, err, when I flew to London to er, make arrangements, with my attorney, erm, to represent me in London and also to hire a ground-penetrating radar machine. Er, I then flew from, ermm, London to Lisbon and met my team that were, that left from Cape Town. I erm, I employed a team about a month and a half before I left. And IT team and erm, a erm, a team of people to help me with regard to the camera work and surveillance. And er, I then met with them in Lisbon and we drove down to Praia da Luz where I pre-booked accommodation in the Ocean Club. Basically we rented an apartment known as Fuji (???) Farms 10 which overlooks the property which I’m sure some of your listeners might remember belonged to erm, a gentleman by the name of Robert Murat. Or actually it belongs to his mother, Jenny Murat.
PRESENTER Stephen, theres a little more detail than we need in what you are telling me at the moment. OK?
PRESENTER So just, I mean could we cut to the chase?
BIRCH Yes we can. What we, what I did was. I entered the property four times illegally in the early hours of the morning between five and six o’clock in the morning. And using the ground-penetrating radar machine, ermmm, found, erm, potentially, er, a cavity beneath a driveway where I suspected that Madeleine could be buried. And, er, the scans clearly show that the ground below the driveway contains an object. At this present moment we are not sure…. Er, it needs to be confirmed and we are waiting for the Portuguese Police to react to our findings. But it shows a cavity and an object in the cavity and ermm, and it shows disturbance of, of the ground conditions beneath the driveway, approximately between 400 and 650 mm below the ground.
PRESENTER Driveways are things that are constructed. I mean cavities under driveways, is that unusual? What, what makes you believe that this cavity and the object which your ground-penetrating radar seems to have picked up is the remains of Madeleine McCann?
BIRCH Well, you know, its a fifteen month investigation. Its not only the cavity. There’s numerous factors which we, which if we are correct in our findings we’ll release that. Ermm, first of all the location of where we suspect the cavity to be is, err, in line our previous investigation. Secondly, ermm, the findings were sent to Scotland Yard. We’re still waiting for a result from them but were sent to South African experts who analysed the scans and came back and stated that there’s no doubt in their minds that there’s definitely something there and given the nature of the investigation that driveway needs to be lifted.
PRESENTER Stephen, a South African property developer doing a fifteen month investigation into the disappearance of a young British girl. Why? And where does a property developer get the kinds of skills and experience and expertise to successfully prosecute an investigation like this when seasoned criminal investigators haven’t managed to do it?
BIRCH Its an easy question to ask. Not an easy question to answer. I mean there, I have various reasons as to why I undertook the investigation and those reasons changed as I progressed through the investigation. You need to understand that it became an emotional process. One gets intertwined in the investigation. Its a twelve thousand page investigation that I undertook, ermm. I am a property developer. I have significant, erm, experience in soil conditions and ermm, I think my attention to detail and the way that I approached it on a very pragmatic basis and analysed every single detail and was able to obtain information that possibly the Portuguese Police had overlooked.
PRESENTER Yeah and I mean the British police looked as well and Madeleine McCann’s parents hired private investigators who also looked and you’ll understand why I and a lot of other people are going to be deeply sceptical that a South African property developer has succeeded where Portuguese and British professionals have not.
BIRCH No doubt. I am sure that there is a tremendous amount of scepticism out there. Unfortunately I need to remain focused at what I’m doing and I can’t be sidetracked. I’ll continue doing what I do, stay focused which I have been for the last thirteen months and get the Portuguese Police to lift that driveway and confirm my, my investigation that she is buried there.
PRESENTER Have you had any kind of response from either Scotland Yard or the Portuguese Police?
BIRCH Well the, ermm, Scotland Yard has written back to me on Monday stating that erm, my findings have been the erm, the centre of their discussions for the whole of Monday all the meetings. The Portuguese Police at the moment are remaining mum. You do know that the case has been closed for fifteen months after Madeleine went missing. So there seems to be a bit of a judicial issue there in being able to get them to react when the case has been closed. And its problematic the Portuguese police are putting, Portuguese press and the Spanish press are putting their, the Portuguese police under tremendous pressure to react and I’m sure that by the weekend the British tabloids and major….
PRESENTER Our reporter in the UK says this is going to be very, very big news in the UK over the weekend. The McCanns, have you had formal contact with them?
BIRCH No, you know I’ve made it very clear that I want no contact with the McCanns or anybody thats associated with Madeleine. I want it to be a completely independent investigation and it must be understood that by doing that erm, my focus has been on to find the infant’s remains and once we find the infant’s remains the investigation will be narrowed completely down and it should have been narrowed in the first place. It should have remained in Praia da Luz but unfortunately it went international.
PRESENTER Yes I mean if…. I don’t know who decided to go public with this but it is now public and so the McCanns will know about it and they’ll have reporters besieging them trying to get comment on this and if that driveway is dug up and there is a, I don’t know, a dead dog in there or the driveways dug up and there’s nothing then you have to answer to some fairly serious mental distress that you might have caused the McCanns.
BIRCH (Loud clearing of throat) Erm, I’m sure you’re right but at the end of the day my feeling on the whole thing is that we need to get closure on that particular property. Erm, I have certain evidence in my possession that says the property was not properly searched and errm, you know, and erm, in my opinion if I am wrong I’d like to eliminate that property completely out of the equation. But, I mean having spent, err, two weeks in Praia da Luz and having looked at all the various other properties, there’s only one place that Madeleine McCann can be buried and that is in that property.
PRESENTER That’s South African, Cape Town property developer, Stephen Birch who believes that he has found the final resting place of Madeleine McCann.