Detective who worked on Madeleine McCann case 'amazed' by hate towards her parents
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A detective who worked on the Madeleine McCann case has said he is 'amazed' by the hate directed towards her parents. Watch here:
Graham Hill specialises in investigating the abduction and murder of children, and in 2007 – when he was a Surrey detective superintendent – he was seconded to the UK's new Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre, and flew to Portugal to lend expert help to the hunt for Madeleine.
At the time, he never could have predicted that this would become one of the most high-profile criminal investigations in recent memory, with the case still unsolved 15 years later.
Speaking to LADbible ahead of the release of his new true-crime series, Murder Detective, Hill said: "I don't think anyone at the early stages of that investigation envisaged how large it would be and how enduring it would be – and that 15 years later, we'd still be talking about it as an unsolved crime.
"It's one of those investigations that is a modern day mystery that people have sort of gravitated to and are always drawn to and interested in. And the longer it goes unsolved, the more people become fascinated by it."
Hill said in the UK there are few cases of child abduction that go undetected, but the longer a case goes on, the less likely it is to be solved – though the prime suspect in the McCann case was charged with other sexual offences earlier this week.
With many unsolved cases, public interest wanes over time – but not with the McCann case.
"So many people have got an opinion about what they think happened," Hill said.
"I think it happened at a time when social media was, not in its infancy, but more people were using it as a medium to express their views. And I think that what that led to was everyone being an armchair detective, and everyone trying to have an opinion on what happened, who did it.
"I also think the parents are divisive. Some people feel sorry for them and understand the plight, some people don't like them and have chosen to be quite cruel, and accusatory.
"I think all of that has led to it being a fascinating case that everyone wants to keep continually revisiting and talking about and writing about. I think it's one of those cases that will endure for the foreseeable future."
As for why parents Gerry and Kate have proven divisive – and even been accused of being behind Madeleine's disappearance – Hill is none the wiser.
"I don't know," he said. "I really don't know.
"I'm amazed by the the sort of hate that is spilled out against them. I know everyone's entitled to an opinion, but some people just take it a little bit too far.
"So I'm not sure why so many people dislike them, so many people love accusing them of doing something to their own child – on the basis of, what I can see, very little evidence."
Hill is now sharing his expert insight in 10-part series, Murder Detective, in which he pairs his detective methodology with forensic science and insider knowledge to examine how detectives cracked some of the most shocking cases.
"One of the things that I wanted to highlight in this series is how important policy and strategies are for investigating murder," Hill explained.
"Because one of the problems is that when you arrest someone and charge them, really, that's only half the job done – you've then got the case-building phase, that can take months, sometimes years.
"And then when you get to court, they're going to question you about what you did, but they're also going to question you about what you didn't do. And sometimes you get more questions about what you didn't do than what you did do."
He continued: "Good defence barristers attack the process, they don't necessarily attack the evidence. And so if you've done something wrong – or you've not collected that bit of DNA, or that particular bit of forensic evidence in a particular way, under controlled conditions, or you've made a mistake – that's going to come back to bite you when you get to the court process.
"So this series is about highlighting those decisions and how important policy is."
"These are ordinary people doing extraordinary jobs," he added. "What they're doing is, they're applying their experience to the investigations in such a way to ensure that the person who committed the crime actually gets convicted of the crime."
Murder Detective premieres on Crime+Investigation Play from 16 October, with all episodes available on brand-new streaming service, crimeandinvestigationplay.co.uk. The series will air weekly on Crime+Investigation, Sundays at 9pm.