Birch talks to Capetalk Radio

birchJOHN MAYTHAM 06 July 2012 4:40 PM
South African claims he found remains of Madeleine McCann

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


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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?

 BIRCH Right.

 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.


26 comments on “Birch talks to Capetalk Radio

  1. Many thanks for all that work, Bren. X

    Aside from the fact that I find it abhorrent that he and whoever else had invaded the property of an elderly lady and dragged the family name back into the press all over again, I’m afraid I’m even more sceptical than the presenter. 

    I’ll assume for a moment that he really did scan the area in the property that appears to be just outside the door beneath the pool and indeed found a cavity with an “object” in it.

    That door under the pool is presumably the entrance to the pool maintenance area and would have had the police and dogs all over it when they searched.

    It would be perfectly normal to have a water evacuation pipe leading out from that area to drain excess water / clean the filter system. 

    I presume he would have known that in advance and therefore would have also known that there was a high probability that he’d make a “hit” in that particular area before he ever made the trip.

    Meanwhile, what might logically be PVC piping has suddenly been transformed into the “remains” of a missing child. 

  2. This man disgusts me Carana, he is another friggin Bennett.  No care whatsoever for the feelings of a family who have a missing child and he doesn’t give one shite about how Jenny Murat must feel, knowing people have been in her garden not once but four times.

    Now he is claiming Madeleine’s body is there, every friggin ghoul going will try to get in and find it…

    Hope Scotland Yard and the PJ throw the bloody book at him.   If he was that serious about his findings, he would have sent all this stuff to Scotland yard, kept his friggin mouth shut and let them do their job.

    No he arranges for interviews at airports, puts his stuff in the Portuguese Media and hey presto back to the days of 2007 with the headlines that have emerged from the Star alone.

    Friggin glory seeker and wants his 15 minutes of fame. Maybe he is thinking of writing a book…. who knows.

  3. I’ve found Maddie – Cape man
    July 7 2012 at 12:44pm By KOWTHAR SOLOMONS

    Kate McCann, whose daughter Madeleine went missing during a family holiday in Portugal in 2007.

    A Cape Town businessman has made international headlines with claims that he may have found the remains of British toddler Madeleine McCann five years after she disappeared while on holiday with her family in Portugal.

    The businessman, Stephen Birch, owner of commercial property developer the Birch Organisation, says he used a radar scanner and found what could be human bones near the Praia da Luiz holiday resort where the family had been staying in May 2007.

    And Birch strongly suspects they belong to Madeleine, whose mysterious disappearance made headlines across the globe.

    Since her disappearance, several people have claimed to have spotted her, with reports coming from as far as India. However, despite an ongoing, high-profile search campaign spearheaded by Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, the little girl remains missing.

    But Birch believes he may have solved the mystery and has handed over his findings to London’s New Scotland Yard and the Portuguese police to investigate further.

    He told Weekend Argus yesterday that the radar scans revealed a cavity, about 400 to 600mm below ground, which contains what appears to be human remains on private property about 150m away from the holiday resort where the McCanns were staying.

    “I’ve had scans analysed by SA experts and they agree that they (the scans) clearly show a void, which has soil patterns around it, indicating human intervention and what could be human bones. But we won’t know anything for sure until we go down there.”

    Birch says he is certain the scans are accurate because he tested the device at a graveyard in Cape Town before using it near the Praia da Luiz holiday resort.

    Asked what motivated him to go to such extremes so long after the toddler’s disappearance, Birch said he was ”obsessed” with the case.

    “Initially when the case started I was uninterested, but the prospect of solving a mystery that not even two of the world’s greatest law enforcement agencies could solve, was too exciting for me to ignore. Eventually, after months of reading through more than 12 000 pages of documents and countless interviews, I became increasingly emotionally involved to the point of obsession and was driven to help solve the case,” said Birch.

    So obsessed was the property developer, that he forked out more than R500 000 in 15 months to investigate Madeleine’s disappearance.

    After more than a year of investigation, Birch suspected Madeleine was not alive and that her body could be buried near the resort.

    He decided to use the radar device, called the Mala ground penetrating system, to look for traces of the missing girl and, after testing it, he left for Portugal in June.

    “I was trained for two months in the use of the device and knew its capabilities. During the test I was able to identify 12 bodies without marked graves between 1.5 and 2m below the surface,” Birch said.

    In Portugal, he was assisted by three men, who specialise in IT and surveillance. They identified two sites where they suspected the body could be buried and investigated both.

    After monitoring one of the sites for several days, Birch and his team decided that a secluded paved area, about 154m from where Madeleine disappeared, was a likely location for the grave.

    Birch admitted to Weekend Argus that his visits to the property were illegal.“I visited the site, illegally, over the next four days in the early mornings for at least four 20-minute scanning sessions. We eventually found what we believe could be the grave and took several more scans.”

    “I have not heard anything from the authorities since I submitted the scans and that is in part why I have approached the media. I want to put pressure on British authorities. They, along with the media, have been holding back, and I believe their involvement in the case is extremely crucial.

    “I know if we can find a body that will narrow the search to find whoever is responsible for this. I have personally become involved in this case and believe justice must be done for Madeleine,” said Birch.

    The Huffington Post has reported that British detectives are examining Birch’s claim.

    New Scotland Yard detectives have also asked him for more information to help them interpret the scan results.He has sent the material to the Portuguese police, who abandoned their search 15 months after Madeleine disappeared.

    Birch said he was aware the owner of the property wanted to sue him for his actions. The owner is the mother of a former suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance who was later cleared.

    Birch said he also discussed the scans with SA forensic authorities. He said he had not spoken to Madeleine’s parents in order to “remain professional”. The parents have declined to comment and are confident that their daughter is still alive.

    Veteran Metropolitan detective Ian Horrocks told British newspaper, The Sun, there was a possibility she was still alive.kowthar.solomons@inl.co.za


  4. When did this story break, Thursday/Friday now he tells that news paper this

    “I have not heard anything from the authorities since I submitted the scans and that is in part why I have approached the media. I want to put pressure on British authorities. They, along with the media, have been holding back, and I believe their involvement in the case is extremely crucial.

    And that is why he told the media…. but he states on the radio interview

    BIRCH Well the, ermm, Scotland Yard has written back to me on Monday stating that erm, my findings have been erm, the centre of their discussions for the whole of Monday in all the meetings.

    So what is it?  If you heard from Scotland Yard on Monday and they asked you for more information, then there was no need to go public because you had heard from the authorities.

  5. Dear God, I thought we’d seen everything in the autistic/obsessive pursuit of uninformed armchair theories, but this has hit new lows. 
    This makes Bennett skulking round the McCann household seem positively benign, and I never thought I’d say that!
    So utterly convinced that Madeleine was dead that he’d spend 50K and travel halfway round the world to grab the attention of the forum furies? He wants locking up in a looney bin.

    • You are right there he needs locking up…. for a bloody long time. I thought we had seen it all, this just beats it, as you say.  But after some of the comments that Sharonl has been posting on Jill Havern’s I have suspicions that somewhere lurking in the background in this is the Madeleine Foundation…

      And if they have had emails from this guy and they have sat on them I hope and pray the Police haul them all in and charge them with perverting the course of justice.

      Enough is enough Anna…. this has got to stop surely, and the police I think are the only ones that are going to stop these ghouls.

      Hope you are keeping well Anna xx

  6. “…He forked out more than R500 000 in 15 months to investigate Madeleine’s disappearance.”

    What did he spend that on? If he rented his machine in the UK, I expect the deposit & rental fee would have been expensive (and I presume there would have had to have been an upfront guarantee of funds), but the deposit would have been reimbursed if the machine had been returned, wouldn’t it?

    • Well he is definitely obsessed, I can think of far better ways of spending money.   Flaming ghoul that is all he is.. 

      • I’m not convinced all that money was actually spent. What on? If he had to rent an expensive machine in the UK, much of that could have been tied up in the deposit. Assuming the machine was returned, the deposit would have been reimbursed, wouldn’t it?

  7. Just a question: why Mr. Birch did not sent a formal letter to the Portuguese Public Prosecutor’s Office, with all evidence collected? According to the Law, the Public Prosecutor’s Office (who is in charge of any criminal investigation and has authority over PJ) must open an inquiry, whenever it receives this kind of information from any person,  analyse the evidence and produce a report to the person who communicated the info about any crime. So, Mr. Birch could have his evidence analysed by the criminal judges from PPPO, by PJ investigators and forensic experts. And if Mr. Birch was not satisfied with the PPPO conclusions, he could file an appeal against that decision, with the Courts.

    So, why Mr. Birch just gave interviews to newspapers and did nothing more? Mr. Birch reminds me the hundreds (may be thousands…) of persons that “saw” Madeleine Mccan, from Greenland to Timbuktu, but did nothing, when they “saw” her – just called police or the newspapers, 2, 3 days after they saw a girl they were “absolutely sure” it was Madeleine Mccann…

    Paulo Reis

    • Because he is like many more in this case, he saw dollars, euros, rand , pounds, whatever currency there is going.  He saw money and that is why, he saw a way of making money out of a missing child.  Just like many others who have written books, or are in the process of writing books.

      These people stand and accuse Kate and Gerry McCann of cashing in on their daughters disappearance but they fail to look at themselves.  Kate and Gerry McCann have every right to write about their daughter to raise funds. Others just use the disappearance to either make a name for themselves or earn a couple of bob.

      I am glad you posted Paulo, perhaps you can do something to stop this witchhunt of the McCanns, you and I both know there were NO forensics in the hired car belonging to Madeleine McCann… yet the anti-McCanns still tweet, post, and run around with the idea and promote the idea that there was cadaver scent and bodily fluids in the hired car… perhaps you could put them straight and try to stop these myths from being portrayed as facts.

    • Thanks you for the clarification, Paulo, but I’m not sure I understand. Are you saying that if someone believes that they have valid information, that the PJ desk officer is NOT who it should be sent to?

      NB: I can understand that – in certain circumstances – people who believe that they have relevant information (about any investigation) may become frustrated at not knowing whether their submission has been taken into account or not. However, when I notice that some people tend to rush to the press, I can’t help but wonder why. 

      • Mind you following on about the hired car and my tweet to him yesterday saying that as there were no forensics in the car perhaps he could put paid to the myths that are being circulated as fact that Madeleine’s bodily fluids were in the car.. he replied with this:

        Paulo Reis @pjreis
        @BrenR1958 M Brunt broke the news, later said on live broadcast the story was “burned out”. 100 % DNA match was a spin from Clarence Mitchel
         in reply to @BrenR1958
        Paulo Reis @pjreis
        Reply Retweet Favorite ·More
        @BrenR1958 Also there was no 100 % match with Maddie’s DNA, as Clarence Mitchel told to Martin Brunt (who “swallowed” the story…)
         in reply to @BrenR1958
        Paulo Reis @pjreis
        @BrenR1958 After pieces of the boot car interior were taken out and sent to FSS, no forensic evidence remained in the car. Got it?
         in reply to @BrenR1958

        Of course if you watch this this video.. 

        Martin Brunt mentions ‘Local Media

        and in this video 

        he says at 1min 13 secs ‘and Police say’

  8. Why would anyone believe anything Mr. Reis has to say.
    Has he conveniently forgot all the untruthful propoganda articles he has put his name to? and continues to do so.

    Anything that smears the McCanns is fair game in Portugal.

    Journalist? not in my eyes.

  9. Paulo, in fairness to Birch (and I am no supporter, let me make that clear) he likely would not have known that he had to approach the Public Prosecutor’s Office. In most countries you just leave it in the hands of the police.

    • A valid point Guest, so you would expect either the Police to say, no you have to take this to the ….(fill in dots) or take the stuff and forward to the correct department, wouldn’t you?

      As you say most people would think it was acceptable to leave it in the hands of the Police.

  10. Bren, I DID wonder where the “100% DNA” car match originated. Several media outlets reported it almost simultaneously – which seems like it came from an unverified presswire. 

    The only conclusion that I’ve come to so far is that whoever was at the origin of that misunderstood the fact that the FSS had indeed found a 100% match – but that it was her REFERENCE profile and nothing to do with any crime-scene findings. The “info” had clearly got garbled – whether it was an innocent mistake or not. 

    • Yes that is what I think happened… but Reis is trying to tell people that Clarence Mitchell was behind this and he told Martin Brunt… 

      That is absolute rubbish.. I really can’t see a Press spokesman for the family of a missing child doing something so stupid…  My god Brunt could have easily said CM told me… but he never has.

      • Hmmm. If it was presswire info while media people were expected to deliver 24/7 latest news and standing there like lemons on camera… no, I can understand that they just repeated what they heard in the earphone. 

        Breaking news presswires often hit the submit button far too fast… 

  11. No way would that come from Mitchell.

    The DNA probably came from the same source as the missing blue bag that Brunt was responsible for.

    • Clarence wasn’t even their spokesman at the time of the arguido saga, as far as I remember. 

      • You are correct Carana, it was on the 10th September 2007 Brunt was saying that…. Clarence Mitchell was NOT employed by the McCanns until the 18th September 2007

        Former BBC man to speak for McCannsProfile: Clarence Mitchell
        James Sturcke guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 18 September 2007 16.06 BST

        The parents of Madeleine McCann today stepped up their campaign to maintain their innocence with the appointment of a media expert to act as their spokesman.
        Clarence Mitchell, speaking outside Gerry and Kate McCann’s home in Rothley, Leicestershire, confirmed he had resigned from a senior post in the civil service to handle the intense international press interest in the case of Madeleine, who vanished while on holiday with her family in Portugal.


  12. you know all what matters is we find madeleine alive or sadly dead at least birch spent his own money and time on something he believes and its one more stone turned people are quick to print in papers and believe theres a sighting of madeleine but we need to look at the other side too if she is sadly dead and where the body would be buried . Yes he should not be going in to peoples gardens trespassing etc but no one else seems to be doing much to locate her at least he seems emotionally involved in helping little madeleine after all thats who this is about a young little girl .

    • I can hardly believe you have written that about Birch. 

      From what you have written I take it that everyone who is emotionally involved in dealing with a crime (lets just say against children), be it murder, rape, abduction or whatever is according to you, expected to take the law into their own hands and deal with it in whatever way they see fit?

      What kind of idea is that?  Not one I recognise as part of any society I have lived in or would ever want to live in.  It sounds more like the law of the jungle.

      In this instance Birch has simply broken one minor criminal law and trespassed and potentially defamed people but where do you draw the line?  Would it have been  legitimate for him to have dug up the property as he claims he tried to do?  Would it be legitimate for him to go and dig up other people’s properties on the basis of his unspecified evidence?  Would it be legitimate for him to break into someone’s house?

      There are some who claim that Madeleine is buried in Rothley.  Would it be OK for me to go digging in the garden there, potentially scaring the wits out of two young children by my activities.  And if from posts I have seen online I think tbere is a chance that a forum member may be hiding Madeleine’s body in their garden, would it be OK for me to go round with a spade and dig up the property?

      What you are claiming is good about Birch is actually nothing short of unacceptable criminality.

      He claims to have had specific evidence which led him to that location, which caused him to believe that there had been a burial in that specific location.  What he should have done is simple.  He should have gone to Scotland Yard and / or to the PJ in Porto and discussed this evidence with them.

      By breaking the law and then proudly boasting about his crime to the press as often and as loudly as he could he actually damaged the search for Madeleine.  He should have involved the authorities not been a glory seeker.

    • Oh please Birch has taken the law into his own hands.. of course everyone wants Madeleine found.  But that still doesn’t give him the right to enter a person’s garden, illegally and conduct his own investigation.  We only have Mr Birch’s word that is what he was doing… for all we know he could have been planting evidence of some sort.  

      Now if Birch wants to put his digging to good use, and he seems to have enough money to do things for free, I have a lawn that needs re-turfing and hubby needs another two foot dug in his pond… See we even save him the expense of hiring his over glorified lawnmower again..

  13. […] drive.  He says to the South Afrrican ‘The Post’ newspaper, as quoted in this comment, the […]

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