Madeleine McCann disappearance: a timeline of events

14 March 2019, 16:12 | Updated: 14 March 2019, 16:53

Kate and Gerry appealing for information on their daughter's whereabouts in Portugal
Kate and Gerry appealing for information on their daughter's whereabouts in Portugal. Picture: Getty

What happened the day Madeleine was abducted? A timeline of events from the day she went missing

The Madeleine McCann Documentary - 'The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann' - arrives on Netflix tomorrow, and the trailer for the controversial new exploration of the abduction dropped earlier today.

Read more: Madeleine McCann Netflix documentary controversially claims missing girl is 'still alive'

But what happened on the day Madeleine went missing and in the subsequent investigation? A timeline of events:

28 April 2007 - The McCann's arrive in Portugal

Kate and Gerry McCann take their three children - Madeleine, three, and twins Amelie and Sean, two, on holiday to the Ocean Club complex in Praia da Luz in Portugal.

3 May 2007 - The day of Madeleine's disappearance

07:30am: Over breakfast, Madeleine asks her parents why they had not been in the apartment when she'd woken up and cried the night before. They made a 'mental note' to check their children more often when they go out for their evening meal.

The family then go to the swimming pool, where the last known photograph of Madeleine was taken, and the children then go to the kids club while Gerry and Kate have a tennis lesson.

5pm to 6pm: The family go back to the apartment and Kate gets the kids ready for bed. Gerry goes to play tennis again.

7pm: Gerry returns to the apartment. Madeleine is read a bedtime story, and the twins are put in a travel cot next to Madeleine's bed. The shutters outside the ground-floor bedroom are down, and the window is closed. Kate and Gerry leave the bedroom door ajar.

8:30pm: Kate and Gerry leave the apartment to go for dinner. They dine at a tapas restaurant with seven friends.

9:05pm: Gerry goes to the apartment to check on the children. He notices the position of the bedroom door is different to how they left it, but sees all his children asleep in the bedroom. He heads back to the restaurant.

9:15pm: Jane Tanner, who was dining with Gerry and Kate, walks past the McCann's apartment to check on her children. She sees a man carrying a child on her way. This man became a suspect, but Metropolitan Police concluded six years later that this person was an innocent British man carrying his own daughter.

9:30pm: Matthew Oldfield, a friend at dinner, offers to check on the McCanns' children while he checks his own kids in the next door apartment. He says everything is fine when he returns.

10pm: Kate goes back to the apartment and notices that the children's bedroom door is open. As she goes to close it slightly, it is slammed shut by a breeze. She goes into the room and notices Madeleine isn't there. She raises the alarm.

4 May 2007 - the investigation begins

The investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine is launched by Portuguese police. Gerry and Kate, who holds Madeleine's favourite toy Cuddle Cat, make a plea for her return.

Gerry says: Words cannot describe the anguish and despair that we are feeling as the parents of our beautiful daughter Madeleine.

"We request that anyone who may have information relating to Madeleine's disappearance, no matter how trivial, contact the Portuguese police and help us get her back safely.

"Please, if you have Madeleine, let her come home to her mummy, daddy, brother and sister."

The McCanns with Madeleine's toy
The McCanns with Madeleine's toy. Picture: Getty

5 May 2007

Portuguese police say they believe Madeleine was abducted but it still alive and in the country.

14 May 2007

Robert Mura, an Anglo-Portugese man, is taken in for questioning. Police make him an 'arguido' (an official suspect).

30 May 2007

Kate and Gerry travel to Rome to meet Pope Benedict XVI. It was the first of a series of trips they made round Europe to help the search for Madeleine.

6 August 2007

It is reported in the Portuguese media that British sniffer dogs found traces of blood on a wall in the McCann's apartment.

11 August 2007

Officers acknowledge for the first time that Madeleine could be dead.

7 September 2007

Kate and Gerry are further questioned, and they are both made 'arguidos' in Madeleine's disappearance.

9 September 2007

Kate, Gerry and the twins fly back to England.

2 October 2007

Goncalo Amaral, the detective in charge of the investigation, is removed from the case after criticising British police in a Portuguese newspaper.

19 March 2008

Kate and Gerry accept £550,000 in libel damages as well as a front page apology from Express Newspapers over their claim that they were responsbile for Madeleine's death. Their apology headline was 'Kate and Gerry McCann: Sorry'.

It led their story with: "The Daily Express today takes the unprecedented step of making a front-page apology to Kate and Gerry McCann.

"We do so because we accept that a number of articles in the newspaper have suggested that the couple caused the death of their missing daughter Madeleine and covered it up."

7 April 2008

Three Portuguese detectives go to Britain to re-interview the seven friends who were on holiday with the McCanns.

17 July 2008

Murat is awarded £600,000 in libel damages from four newspapers who connected him with the disappearance.

21 July 2008

The Portugese authorities shelve their investigation and lift the 'arguido' status of Kate & Gerry and Murat.

4 August 2008

Thousands of pages of files of evidence from the Portuguese police are made public.

13 January 2009

Gerry McCann returns to Portugal for the first time.

24 March 2009

The McCann's launch a new appeal, in the area of Algarve, which is where Madeleine disappeared.

4 April 2009

Gerry helps with the filming of a reconstruction of events from the night that she went missing

22 April 2009

Gerry and Kate appear on Oprah

6 August 2009

Private detectives say they are looking for a 'Victoria Beckham lookalike' with an Australian or New Zealand accent, who was reportedly seen in Barcelona three days before Maddie went missing.

3 March 2010

A file is released from the Portuguese police on possible sightings - which is called 'gold dust' and said to potentially lead to a breakthrough, according to a spokesperson for the McCanns.

10 November 2010

Kate and Gerry launch an online petition aiming to force the UK and Portugal to launch a joint review of evidence in the case.

15 November 2010

Kate and Gerry sign a book deal.

23 November 2011

Kate and Gerry appear at the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics, and Kate says she felt 'violated' when her diary was published without permission.

9 March 2012

Portuguese police launch a review of the investigation.

26 April 2012

Scotland Yard release an artist's impression of what she might look like as a nine-year-old.

6 July 2012

British detectives look into a claim that Madeleine's body is buried near the apartment that she vanished from.

Police released an e-fit of what Madeleine might look like aged nine
Police released an e-fit of what Madeleine might look like aged nine. Picture: Getty

13 February 2013

The results of a DNA test on a girl in New Zealand prove she is not Madeleine.

17 May 2013

Scotland Yard reveal that they have identified more 'people of interest' that they want to speak to. They believe that there is enough evidence to re-open the case, but the Potuguese police are resistant.

15 June 2013

The Home Office says it will fund a Metropolitan Police investigation.

14 October 2013

Two e-fits are released of a suspect said to be of 'vital importance' - a man who was seen the night she went missing.

24 October 2013

Portuguese detectives reopen the investigation.

13 January 2014

British police investigate three burglars who were in the area on the night Madeleine went missing. They send a letter to Portuguese police asking them to help them track her down.

29 January 2014

Scotland Yard officers fly to Portugal to meet police there and discuss the case.

19 March 2014

Officers from Operation Grande launch search for a man who sexually assaulted five British girls in the same area that Madeleine went missing from between 2004 and 2006.

23 April 2014

Five new cases where an intruder abused young girls on holiday in the are are identified by detectives.

1 May 2014

Kate and Gerry McCann say they are desperate to find out what happened to Madeleine even if it is the 'worst case scenario'.

22 May 2014

Mark Rowley, the Met Police Assistant Commissioner, says that the investigation will enter a 'substantial phase of operational activity' in the coming weeks.

11 June 2014

Portuguese police begin their search of an area between Praia da Luz and Lagos behind a water treatment plant - but nothing was found.

Madeleine McCann has been missing since 2007
Madeleine McCann has been missing since 2007. Picture: Getty

9 December 2014

Police question 11 potential witnesses in Portugal, including Murat and the staff who worked at the complex Madeleine was staying in.

27 July 2015

A child's remains that were found in a suitcase in Australia was confirmed not to be Madeleine.

28 October 2015

The number of police officers devoted to the investigation is reduced from 29 to four.

3 April 2016

Theresa May, who was the Home Secretary at the time, grants the investigation a further £95,000.

12 March 2017

The Home Office gives police a further £85,000.

27 April 2017

Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Mark Rowley say they are following a "significant line of inquiry".

27 March 2018

Investigating police confirm that they have been granted more funding from the Home Office.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Government remains committed to the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.“We have briefed the MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] that its application for Special Grant funding for Operation Grange will be granted.”

Madeleine McCann documentary trailer: