Madeleine's parents meet with Ken Bigley's brother to discuss abduction agonyBy SAM GREENHILL
Last updated at 06:59 21 August 2007
Madeleine McCann's parents have drawn comfort from an emotional meeting with murdered hostage Ken Bigley's brother, it emerged yesterday.
Phil Bigley spent several hours with Kate and Gerry McCann in Praia da Luz talking about the trauma of having a loved one abducted.
Mr Bigley is the younger brother of Ken, the British engineer who was snatched in Iraq by Al Qaida in 2004 and later beheaded on camera.
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Kate and Gerry McCann 'drew comfort' from the meeting with Phil Bigley
Read more...Although a very different situation, the McCanns are said to have been greatly buoyed by speaking to his brother about the stresses and strains of their respective ordeals.
News of the meeting came as police in Portugal stepped up their hunt for four-year-old Madeleine, who vanished from the Mark Warner Ocean Club resort as her parents ate tapas in a nearby restaurant.
Four-year-old Madeleine disappeared 110 days agoDetectives are believed to be checking out a theory that Madeleine's disappearance was the result of a botched burglary, after several reported break-ins in the area.
Phil Bigley, 52, is on holiday with his family in the Algarve and made the approach to the McCanns last Saturday.
A source close to Mr Bigley said: "Phil really feels for the McCanns and what they are going through.
"Obviously he hopes there is a happy ending to their ordeal, unlike how it was for him and his family.
"But he knows how much talking helps and he thought he could offer some support. It was an emotional meeting for both parties.
"He also knows what it's like to be in the media spotlight during a very difficult time."
Mr McCann, a 39-year-old consultant cardiologist, wrote on his Internet blog:
"We had a British visitor who came to offer us a different type of support.
"He has been through an ordeal similar to ours involving one of his family.
"It was good to talk about our emotions, the pressures and different coping strategies that we use in an ongoing trauma, with someone who has experienced a tragic event like ours."
Gerry and Kate, also 39, are even said to have experienced renewed hope for Madeleine from their discussion with Mr Bigley, who like Mrs McCann is from Liverpool.
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British hostage was Ken Bigley was beheaded by his captorsA friend of the couple said: "The Bigley situation is obviously different but even so they found talking to him very comforting.
"Gerry felt he could talk openly and candidly, and found it has given him renewed hope and encouragement.
"It gave him the feeling that he is not the only one to go through an ordeal like this."
Madeleine has now been missing for 110 days and police in the Algarve are reported to be at a "critical" stage of their inquiries.
Portuguese newspapers are claiming that this week will be decisive, without spelling out why.
Police have secured warrants to carry out further searches around Praia da Luz, and are also planning to re-interview several potential witnesses.
Yesterday the officer leading the investigation, Guilhermino Encarnação, arrived at Portimao police station from headquarters in Faro.
It is by no means certain that detectives are close to any sort of breakthrough however, and they rarely comment on the case because of Portugal's strict "secrecy of justice" laws.
Among those whom Portuguese police want to interview is Pamela Fenn, 73, an expat who suffered a break-in at her apartment in the same block as the McCanns' holiday flat.
Another British holidaymaker, Ian Robertson, from Neyland in Pembrokeshire, South Wales, said he too was burgled at the Ocean Club complex, in February.
The thieves entered the property at dusk and stole two mobile phones, a camera and some money.
Mr Robertson said: "I have a feeling there has been a lot of this type of opportunistic burglary.
"It wouldn't surprise me because it's so wide open, so unprotected - could there have been an order to snatch a child?"
Portuguese police are still awaiting the results of tests carried out on blood found in the apartment where the McCanns were staying when Madeleine vanished.
Tests are being carried out at the Forensic Science Services in Birmingham, which said yesterday the analysis was still "ongoing".
There are also unconfirmed reports that a new suspect is under surveillance in the UK.
Mr and Mrs McCann are starting to think about returning to the UK with their two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie.
The family's spokeswoman said: "They are starting the process of thinking about coming home, but they haven't made any decision yet."
She stressed this was not a reaction to the "hurtful" allegations in the Portuguese press in recent weeks suggesting that Madeleine was dead and her parents could be involved.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-476689/Madeleines-parents-meet-Ken-Bigleys-brother-discuss-abduction-agony.html#ixzz1ED8ZcpGB