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TinLizzy
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Date Posted:05/10/2011 11:38 AMCopy HTML

http://themaddiecasefiles.com/topic13621.html

The Sunday Times

Our pain never ends

Hatred and half-truths have swirled around Kate McCann ever since Madeleine was snatched in 2007. Here she tells what really happened

The Sunday Times
Published: 8 May 2011

I ran out into the car park of our holiday apartment ,flying from end to end, yeiling desperately: "Madeleine! Madeleine!" It was so cold and so windy. I kept picturing her in her short-sleeved Marks & Spencer Eeyore pyjamas and feeling how chilled she would be. Fear was shearing through my body.

I vividly recall sobbing: "Not Madeleine, not Madeleine, not Madeleine." Even now, when the dark clouds close in on me, I find myself shaking my head manically and repeating over and over again:"Not Madeleine, not Madeleine. Please, God, not my Madeleine."

After that night in Portugal when Madeleine disappeared four years ago -May 3, 2007 it was a longtime before I was able to allow myself to take any real pleasure in anything. Madeleine was in my thoughts when I woke up in the morning and as I battled to fall asleep at night. Gerry would suggest doing something nice - and I would cry.

Despite his inner strength, determination and capability, Gerry has his own down days, too. He's been such a rock through so many testing times that when he crumbles, it is all the more concerning.

I remember finding him on the couch one day with our twins, Sean and Arnelie, watching TV. When helooked up at me there were tears rolling down his face. They were watching Doctor Who: Madeleine's and Gerry's favourite episode.

It has always been my intention to set down for our children a complete record of what happened in Portugal, so that, when they are ready, the facts will be there for them to read. Understanding our ordeal will give them the best chance of dealing with whatever life throws at them.

Choosing to share this personal account with the world in a book has been much harder. Of course we want the truth to be told. For the past four years it has been excruciating to stand by as all kinds of tales have circulated about Madeleine's disappearance and
about Gerry, me and our family.

The press has published a mountain of stories, often without knowing, and perhaps without caring, whether or not there was any substance to them, causing great distress to our family and, more important, hindering the search for Madeleine.

Others have seized the opportunity to profit from our agony by writing books about our daughter, several of them claiming to reveal "what really happened"-which is extraordinary, given that the only person who knows this is whoever abducted her

Dealing with Madeleine's disappearance has been almost all-consuming, leaving us little time or strength to address these further crimes against our family. The appalling loss of our daughter has been too much to bear. Everything else, however huge, has had to take second place. There is only so much pain human beings can stand at once. It doesn't mean the injustices hurt any less.

I have had to keep saying to myself: I know the truth, we know the truth and God knows the truth. And, one day, the truth will out.

It was on New Year's Day 2007 that the idea of a spring holiday in Portugal was raised. Our friends Fiona and David Payne were planning a week's break at a Mark Warner resort in the Algarve with two other coupIes and their young children,and they asked us if we'd like to join the m.

Boarding he aircraft four months later, on Saturday, April 28, Madeleine had her princess trolley-bag gripped tightly in one hand. She was just two weeks short of her fourth birthday. As she went up he steps, she slipped, clattering her shin on the sharp metal edge. Even that wasn't enough lo spoil her holiday mood.

On arrival she was so excited to see a pool that she immediately wanted me to go swimming with her. I was not exactly keen. There was a cool breeze, and I am one of those people who really feel the cold. ("Get a bit of meat on yerself!" my hardy Scottish in-laws are always telling me.) But I took one look at her eager little face and went off to put on my costume.

The water was absolutely freezing, but Madeleine was straight in there, even if her voice disappeared for a second or two with the shock of it. "Come on, Mummy!" she called when she'd got her breath back. I tentatively inched my way in. It was worth it -it will always be worth it - just to see her delight. Even if it did take us both the best part of three hours to warm up afterwards.

The Mark Warner Ocean Club resort was in the village of Praia da Luz. Our ground-floor apartment was on the corner of a five-storey block.vith roads at the front and side. At the rear, a veranda overlooked agarden, the pool and tennis courts. It was lovely.

Later we were told by the British police that the ground-floor location, access to roads front and side, secluded entrance and partial tree cover made our apartment a prime target for criminals. Never did this occur to us when we arrived. As far as we were concerned, we were in a safe, family-oriented holiday resort.

The apartments and facilities were spread out around the village.The main restaurant turned out to be nearly half a mile from our base -a bit too far for weary toddlers.

The following evening, we were able to make a dinner reservation for the adult contingent at the small tapas restaurant beside the pool, which, being so close, was far more convenient. The children could have their tea earlier, play for a while and then go to bed at their usual time, which meant they wouldn't get overtired and out of sorts, and we could eat later on.

After putting the children to bed, Gerry and I showered, dressed and sat down with a glass of wine before heading over to the tapas restaurant, booked for 8.30.There were nine of us: Gerry and me;David, Fiona and her mum, Dianne; Matt and Rachael Oldfield; and Russell O'Brien and Jane Tanner.

Like us, Russell and Matt were doctors. Jane, a marketing manager, was taking a break from work to be a full-time mum. Rachael, a lawyer by profession, was working in recruitment. Gerry had worked in the past with both Russell and Matt.

The Ocean Club had a creche where children could be looked after from about 7.30pm to lpm. As our children needed to be in bed by the time it opened, Gerry and I both felt it would be too unsettling for them and would disrupt their sleep.

As the tapas restaurant was so near, we collectively decided to do our owm child-checking service. This decision has naturally been questioned time and again, not least by us. It goes without saying that we now bitterly regret it and will do so until the end of our days. But it is easy to be wise after the event.It never once crossed my mind that this might not be a safe option.

If I'd had any doubts whatsoever, I would never have entertained it. I love my three children above everything. They are more precious and special to me than life itself. And I would never knowingly place them at risk, no matter how small a risk it might seem to be.

If we'd had any concerns we could have hired a babysitter. I could argue that leaving my children alone with someone neither we nor they knew, would have been unwise, and it's certainly not something we'd do at home, but we didn't even consider it. We felt so secure we simply didn't think it was necessary.

Our apartment was only 30 to 45 seconds away, and although there were some bushes in between, it was largely visible from the tapas restaurant. We were sitting outside and could just as easily have been eating on a fine spring evening in a friend's garden, with the kids asleep upstairs in the house.

Bringing up children - like all aspects of life - i nvolves making hundreds of tiny and seemingly minor decisions every day, balancing the temptation to mollycoddle them with the danger of being too laissez-faire. Sometimes, our judgment proves to have been right, sometimes wrong. Mostly, when you make the wrong call, you can just chalk it up to experience and do it differently next time. It is our family's tragedy that this particular decision would have such catastrophic consequences.

That Sunday night Gerry and I were back in our apartment by ll pm. From some of the things that would be written about us in he coming months, you'd think we and our friends had been partying wildlyevery night. We may have been noisier than other tables at dinner there were up to nine of us talking across each other, after all but we didn't linger late and our alcohol consumption could hardly be described as excessive. We all had young children (which, as any parent knws, makes it impossible to burn the candle at both ends) and we were all up at 7am or 7.30 every morning.

The folloving days settled into a pattern. The children would spend most mornings and afternoons at toddler club and mini club but had 2-3 hours with us at lunchtime, and then we were together again for their teaand a good run-around in the play area. In the evening the adults would all meet up at the tapas restaurant after putting the children to bed. It's hard to accept that living our lives in such an ordinary way might have been our downfall. Was someone watching us that week? Watching Madeleine? Taking note of the pattern of our days?

The restaurant had only 15 places and wouldn't normally have taken a block booking for nine for the week, but Rachael had a word with the receptionist at the pool and tapas area.It wasn't until a year later, when I was combing through the Portuguese police files, that I discovered that the receptionist's note requesting our block booking was written in a staff message book, which sat on a desk at the pool reception for most of the day.

This book was by definition accessible to all staff and, albeit unintentionally, probably to guests and visitors, too. To my horror, I saw that, no doubt in all innocence, the receptionist had added that we wanted to eat close to our apartments as we were leaving our young children alone there and checking on them intermittently.

Wednesday, May 2, was our last completely happy day. Our last,to date, as a family of five. If only it were possible to rewind. Even for an hour. In the evening it was the usual routine: tea with the children, playtime, bathtime, milk, stories, kids' bedtime, get ready, tapas at 8.30pm. After dinner we ventured into the enclosed bar area for a liqueur. As a result we slayed a little later than normal.

At about 11.50pm Gerry abmptly announced: "Right,I'm off to bed. Good night." I was slightly hurt that he should just go off without me.

Gerry's honesty makes him very direct, often to the point of bluntness, and he's not a touchy-feely guy. like many men, he assumes I take his feelings as read and doesn't see any need to express them with soft-soaping, flowers or cards. And although, like most women, I would appreciate the odd romantic gesture, the fact that he has always been loyal, solid and lo\ring deep down, where it really matters, is far more important. It's just Gerry.

As far as he was concerned, it was late, he was tired and he was going to bed. End of story. I am not sure why I was miffed by his lack of social graces that particular evening. Perhaps because the other guys in the group were all attentive "new men", compared with Gerry at least, and I was a bit embarrassed. Anyway, I followed him a few minutes later.

He certainly was tired, because by the time I got into the apartment he was asleep-snoring, in fact. Still feeling a bit offended, I decided to sleep with the children. This was highly unusual - unprecedented, even. I wasn't the type to flounce off to the spare room and never would have done so at home. I suppose it was because there was a bed made up in the other bedroom and at that moment my peaceful, slumbering babies were more attractive room-mates than my snoring husband.

I'm loath even to mention it as it was such an isolated incident and not at all representative of our relationship. However, since every scrap of information was shortly to become potentially crucial, I feel it is necessary to state for the record that I was in that room that night. Though it can have no bearing that I can imagine on subsequent events, the thought of Gerry and me sleeping alone on this of all nights still makes me feel sad.

At breakfast next morning, Madeleine asked: "Why didn't you come when Sean and I cried last night?" She moved on to some other topic that had popped into her head and didn't seem to be at all anxious or upset. But Gerry and I were puzzled and disconcerted.

Could Madeleine and Sean have woken up while we were at dinner? If so, it was worrying, but it didn't seem very probable. They rarely stirred at night, and hardly ever before the early hours. It seemed highly unlikely that they'd woken up,cried for awhile, calmed themselves down and fallen asleep again between our half-hourly checks. Or 45 minutes, if it had been after our last check, as we had stayed in the restaurant later than usual.

Not for a moment did we think there might be some sinister explanation. Within hours, however, this would seem hugely important; and so haunted have I been ever since by Madeleine's words that I've continued to blame myself for not sitting down and making completely certain there was no more information I could draw out of her.

This could have been my one chance to prevent what was about to happen, and I blew it. In the infrequent moments when I'm able to be kinder to myself, I can acknowledge, if only temporarily, that there was absolutely nothing to give me any reason for suspicion and that we can all be clever after the event. But it is my belief there was somebody either in or trying to get into the children's bedroom that night, and that is what disturbed them.

Some images are etched for all time on my brain. Madeleine that Thursday lunchtime is one of them.She was wearing an outfit I'd bought especially for her holiday: a peach-coloured smock top from Gap and some white broderie-anglaise shorts from Monsoon - a small extravagance, perhaps, but I'd pictured how lovely she would look in them and I'd been right.

She was striding ahead of Fiona and me, swinging her bare arms to and fro, happy and carefree. I wafollowing her with my eyes, admiring her. I wonder now, the nausea rising in my throat, if someone else was doing the same. At the toddler pool, dipping our feet in, I took what has turned out to be my last photograph to date of Madeleine. Heartbreaking as it is for me to look at it now, it encapsulates the essence of Madeleine: so beautiful and so happy.

That evening, as I prepared the children for bed, she was very tired. Here is another of those vivid memories: Madeleine, in her Eeyore pyjamas, sitting on my lap and cuddling in, with Sean and Amelie to our right. I read them a Mag story by Judith Kerr. She asked if she could wear my engagement ring, which she often liked to do. I took it off and she put it on her middle finger for a few minutes.

In the bedroom I read our final story, If You're Happy and You Know It!. If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands! says the monkey. If you're happy and you know it... It seemed so fitting at the time.

Gerry and I helped the twins give their big sister a "night-night" kiss before laying them in their travel cots. Madeleine was already snuggled down with her princess blanket and Cuddle Cat - a soft toy she'd been given soon after she was born and never went to bed without. We were in no doubt that all three would be asleep in an instant.

As always, we left the door a few inches open to allow a glimmer of light into the room. We'd wondered about having a leisurely dinner in the apartment and enjoying an early night, but as it was such a short holiday, and almost over, it seemed a bit unsociable not to join everyone else at the tapas restaurant.

As usual, at 8.30pm, we checked the children, left a lamp on in the sitting room, drew the long curtains of the patio doors and closed the doors but did not lock them. Taking the short flight of steps down from the veranda to the garden and pool area, shutting the child safety gate at the top and the gate at the bottom, we headed to the restaurant without seeing anyone else.

After ordering his food, Gerry left to do the first check just before 9.05 by his watch. He entered via the patio doors and noticed almost immediately that the children's bedroom door was further ajar than it had been. Madeleine was lying on her left-hand side, her legs under the covers, in exactly the same position as we'd left her.

He paused for a couple of seconds to look at her and thought to himself, she is so beautiful. After pulling the bedroom door to its original angle, he went to the bathroom before leaving the apartment.

At 9.30pm I stood up to go and make our second check. Almost simultaneously, Matt got to his feet to check on his toddler, Grace. As his apartment was right next door to ours, he offered to look in on our three. On his return he reassured us: "All quiet!"

At 10pm I went back to the apartment. All was silent. Then I noticed that the door to the children's bedroom was open quite wide, not how we had left it. At first I assumed that Matt must have moved it. I walked over and gently began to pull it to. Suddenly it slammed shut, as if caught by a draught.

I opened the door a little, and as I did so I glanced over at Madeleine's bed. I couldn't quite make her out in the dark. I remember looking at it and looking at it for what was probably only a few seconds, though it felt like much longer. It seems so dafl now, but I didn't switch on the light straight away. Force of habit, I suppose: taking care to avoid waking the children at all costs.

When I realised Madeleine wasn't actually there, I went through to our bedroom to see if she'd got into our bed. On the discovery of another empty bed, the first wave of panic hit me.

As I ran back into the children's room the closed curtains flew up in a gust of wind. My heart lurched as I saw that, behind them, the window was wide open and the shutters on the outside shutter raised all the way up. Nausea,terror, disbelief, fear. Icy fear. Dear God, no! Please, no!

On Madeleine's bed, the top right-hand corners of the covers were still turned over, forming a triangle.Cuddle Cat and her pink princess blanket were lying where they'd been when we'd kissed her goodnight.

Refusing to acknowledge what I already knew, and perhaps automatically going into a well-practised medical-emergency mode, I quickly scoured the apartment to exclude all other possibilities, mentally ticking boxes that Iknew, deep down,were already ticked.

I checked the wardrobe in the children's room. I ran into the kitchen, throwing open all the cupboard doors, into our bedroom, searching the wardrobes, in and out of the bathroom, all within about 15 seconds, before hurtling out through the patio doors and down towards Gerry and our friends.

As soon as our table was in sight I started screaming. "Madeleine's gone! Someone's taken her!"

Everyone seemed frozen for a split second, perhaps unable, as I'd been, to process this information. Then they all jumped up from their chairs and ran towards me. I remember Gerry saying: "She must be there!"

By now I was hysterical. "She's not! She's gone!"

David said: "Let's just check the apartment." I'd done that, and I knew, I knew, that Madeleine had been abducted.

As our friends searched the apartment again, Gerry made the sickening discovery that the shutter to the children's could be raised from outside, not just from inside. He asked Matt to get the staff to call the police.

I was trying so hard to suppress the negative voice in my head tormenting me with the words, "She's gone. She's gone."

Gerry and I stood in the living room of our holiday apartment clutching each other, utterly distraught. Icouldn't help myself, let alone try to soothe my husband,who was in a state too harrowing for me to bear, howling for his precious little girl. I kept blaming myself - "We've let her down. We've failed her!" - which increased Fiona's own distress."You haven't, Kate. You haven't," she insisted.

The Mark Warner people rounded up as many staff as they could, rousing some of them from their beds, to comb the complex and its environs.

At 10.35 the police had stilI not arrived. Minutes felt like hours. Overwhelmed by fear, helplessness and frustration, I was hitting out at things, banging my fists on the metal railing of the veranda, trying to expel the intolerable pain inside me. Our friends were running to and from the tapas area, pleading with people to ring the police again from there.

What could be done? What should be done? Aware that we were only 1 1/4 hours' drive from southern Spain, beyond which lay the borderless continent of Europe - not to mention the short hop across the Strait of Gibraltar to north Africa - David was saying: "We need roadblocks set up."

I was in our bedroom, on my knees beside the bed, just praying and praying and praying, begging God and Our Lady to protect Madeleine and help us find her. They had heard many a supplication from me in the past but none so intense, nor so important, as these.

A British woman in her late forties or early fifties turned up on our veranda and kept trying to put her arm round me. She was quite drunk and smelt of cigarettes and I remember willing her to go away. Then a lady appeared on a balcony and, in a plummy voice, inquired:"Can someone tell me what all the noise is about?"

I explained as clearly as I was able, given the state I was in, that my little girl had been stoien from her bed, to which she casually responded:"Oh, I see," almost as if she'd been told that a can of beans had fallen off a kitchen shelf. In our outrage, Fiona and I shouted back something rather short and to the point.

In the children's bedroom Sean and Amelie hadn't stirred in spite of the pandemonium. They'd always been sound sleepers, but this seemed unnatural. Scared for them, I placed the palm of my hands on their backs to check for chest movement - basically, for some sign of life. Had Madeleine been given some kind of sedative to keep her quiet? Had the
twins, too?

It was not until about 11.10pm that two policemen arrived from the nearest town, Lagos, about five miles away. We tried to explain what had happened. To me they seemed bewildered and out of their depth, and I couldn't shake the images of Tweedledum and Tvveedledee out of my head. We did not appreciate until later that they were from the
Guarda Nacional Republicana (GNR), who are responsible for iaw enforcement in rural areas such as the Algarve but do not handle criminal investigations.

I didn't yet know that at around 9.15pm, while checking on her own children, Jane had seen a man on the road that passes in front of our apartment, carrying a child who appeared to be asleep.

At the time she had thought little of it. She knew that Gerry had checked our apartment only a few minutes before. As soon as she heard about Madeleine's disappearance, everything fell into place and she felt sick. Given the condition I was in, Gerry did not tell me until the morning.

By midnight, the GNR officers were concerned enough to inform the Policia Judiciaria (PJ), the mainforce that actually investigates crimes, who were based in Portimao, about 20 miles away. They took more than an hour to arrive.

Eventually,shortly after lam, two officers walked in. Once again, the events of the evening were relayed to them and brief statements taken from us. Dave asked whether we should get the media involved to increase awareness and recruit more help. The reply was swift and unambiguous. "No media! No media!"

Desperate for God's intervention, I carried on praying. The pain, terror and suffocating helplessness I felt are indescribable.

I spoke to my friend Father Paul Seddon, the priest who had married Gerry and me in Liverpool in 1998 and baptised Madeleine. Next I called my best mate, Michelle. I needed her to get her large Catholic family praying, too.

At about 3am I managed to get hold of Michelle's partner, Jon Corner.He'd undoubtedly been asleep, and I wasn't at my most coherent.Poor Jon - I don't think he could quite get his brain in gear for a moment or two. He said that Michelle was asleep, implying that it wasn't a good moment, as if I'd phoned for a chat. "No one's listening!" I wept. "Nothing's happening!"

The next thing I knew, the P.J officers were heading for the front door. I felt another surge of panic. They said they had finished for tonight. They would come back in the morning - after nine. And with that they were gone, leaving us to our own devices. It was incomprehensible. The sense of helplessness and agitation just kept intensifying.

We carried a sleepy Sean and Amelie into Fiona and David's sitting room. Fiona took a twin from me and we both sat there hugging my children. Holding one of my babies provided me with some much-needed comfort, albeit fleetingly.

The cold, black night enveloped us for what seemed an eternity. Gerry was stretched out on a camp bed with Amelie asleep on his chest. He kept saying: "Kate, we need to rest." He managed to drift off but only briefly. I didn't even try. I couldn't have allowed myself to entertain sleep.

I felt Madeleine's terror, and I had to keep vigil with her.

@Kate McCann 2011

Extracted from Madeleine by Kate McCann, to be published by Bantam Press on May 12 at £20.


Our battle to conceive

When Gerry and I married we were keen to start a family as soon as possible, but after a couple of years it became clear that it wasn't going to be as easy as we'd assumed. Eventually I was diagnosed with endometriosis - a common condition, which can cause fertility problems. When we still failed to conceive naturally after a year's treatment, the only option was assisted conception.

As a senior house officer in gynaecology, I'd seen the sadness and desperation etched on the faces of women coming up to the ward to undergo fertility treatment and had declared that, in their position, I'd accept what was meant to be rather than put myself through in-vitro fertilisation. The whole process seemed too traumatic. Oh, the certainties of youth. When it came to it, I didn't lhink twice.

Our first attempt at IVF went smoothly and the invasive nature of the treatment - the injections, scans and subsequent procedures - didn't upset or worry me. I was responding very well to the drugs, I produced plenty of eggs and an excellent percentage of those, once fertilised by Gerry's sperm, resulted in embryos.

Not all embryos survive beyond the first few days and opinions on the optimum time to transfer them into the womb are divided. Some clinicians favour implanting them early on the grounds that they are "better inside than out". Others feel that the embryos that make it to the five-day ''blastocyst'' stage will be the strongest.

We had 13 fertilised eggs. We decided to have some of them frozen and to have two blastocysts implanted. We were naively confident that it was going to work.

I remember going into the hospital after two weeks for a pregnancy test, very calm on the outside but very excited. An even more vivid memory is the physical pain of the blow that followed.

The test was negative. I simply couldn't believe it. Back then I couldn't imagine there could be any pain worse than this. I cannot understand how I had allowed myself to be so certain, especially as I knew, not only as a would-be mother but also as a doctor, how emotionally devastating the peaks and troughs associated with IVF can be. I cried and cried and cried.

Two months later we were ready for a second shot, using two of the embryos we'd had frozen. I was at work when I took the call I'd been expecting from the hospital. But instead of being asked to come in for the procedure, I was told, in very matter-of-fact tones, that unfortunately the defrosted embryos hadn't survived. Another pallet of bricks dropped on my chest.

That night, after the inevitable deluge of tears, Gerry and I went out for a consoling curry and a few beers. At least we had each other, we said. Then we picked ourselves up and prepared to start all over again.

The IVF team's plan was for us to return in six weeks to discuss the next step; but I could see no reason why, provided the facilities were available, we couldn't start a new cycle at the end of that week. It's baffling to anyone undergoing fertility treatment how casually everybody else can talk about weeks and months. A month is a lifetime to a woman who has already spent years trying to get pregnant.

Then a practical obstacle arose: at the point when Gerry would need to produce his sperm sample, he was due to be in Berlin. He'd been invited to give a presentation about his research to the biggest cardiology conference in Europe. It was an important stepping stone in his career, and he was thrilled.

My heart sank.It would mean more months of waiting, but how could he miss this conference? That evening, as I was cooking dinner, Gerry gave me a hug and told me he'd decided not to go to Berlin. The lVF was more important.

This time the cycle didn't go quite as smoothly. My ovaries became overstimulated. It was agreed with the team that we would go for a day-three embryo transfer. On day two, however, we received an urgent call from the embryologist, who told us the embryos weren'tlooking as good as before. He recommended that I come into the hospital for the transfer immediately.

We both felt very despondent. Two embryos were implanted but we did not allow ourselves to get even slightly excited.

Two weeks laler, we did a pregnancy lest at horne the night before the hospital test, so that if il was negative we could shed all our tears in private. A faint blue line appeared on the indicator.Gerry and I looked at each other.

"It's not dark enough" I said, although I knew the instructions advised that any line should be interpreted as a positive result. I just didn't dare trust it.

The next morning at the hospital the positive pregnancy test was confirmed. This time there were happy tears. I felt like a different woman: taller, buoyant, instantly radiant. I thanked God every hour.

Yet somehow, it just didn't feel real. It wasn't until I had an ultrasound scan at six weeks and we saw a little beating heart that I allowed myself to believe it. And that was the first time we saw our little Madeleine. Even then she was beautiful.

© Kate McCann 2011

Next week: 'We have grovvn stronger and adapted to our new life. But our daughter is still missing and our family will never be complete without her. We love her beyond words. We will never give up on her. We will not allow our story to end here' The Incessant hunt for Madeleine - and how you can help
TinLizzy Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #1
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Re:The Sunday Times May 8th 'Our pain never ends'

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