ROTHLEY, England – Portuguese detectives believe they have collected enough evidence for Kate McCann, the mother of missing 4-year-old Madeleine McCann, to be charged with homicide for failing to prevent her child's death, the Times of London reported Monday. The charge is equivalent to manslaughter in British law. She would also face a charge of concealing Madeleine’s body.
Officers were furious when a plan for Kate McCann to be charged on Thursday last week was halted after her lawyer met with the Portugal’s Attorney General, the report claimed.
The McCanns holed up in their home in central England Monday and awaited word from Portugal as police prepared to hand prosecutors the results of their investigation into their child's disappearance.
The police documents set out what the investigation has discovered so far. The public prosecutor then decides whether to bring charges, request further investigation or drop the case.
A day after their bittersweet homecoming, Kate and Gerry McCann ignored reporters besieging their front door and kept a low profile, a contrast to their very public campaign to find their child. On Friday the McCann's were formally named suspects by police.
"They're holding up extremely well," said Brian Kennedy, Kate McCann's uncle.
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Madeleine's disappearance in an idyllic holiday hot spot struck a chord with the thousands of parents, including many Britons who flock to Portugal with their children. In the first days after she vanished in May, well-wishers from across England descended on Rothley, 110 miles, or 180 kilometers, north of London. They attached cuddly toys, written prayers and yellow ribbons of hope to a memorial for slain soldiers, which quickly became the focal point of the local campaign.
But by Monday, as the McCanns returned to the sanctity of their home village, visible signs of support had dropped away. A single candle now flickers below a yellow bouquet at the memorial, replacing the makeshift shrine. Only a few messages of support were left behind.
Kennedy said the McCanns — both doctors — have no plans to return to work.
"What we want to do is concentrate on looking for Madeleine," Kennedy added. "I hope they (the Portuguese police) are still searching."
Madeleine's disappearance, and her parents' high-profile campaign to find her, has attracted attention around the world. The story took a startling twist when Portuguese police named Madeleine's parents as suspects.
Kate and Gerry McCann vowed to stay in Portugal until their daughter's whereabouts was known, but returned to Britain after being suspected of involvement in the case.
Gerry McCann's sister, Philomena McCann, said Monday that the couple were emotionally exhausted but remained strong.
"Kate is a very strong young woman and emotionally the anger welled up. To come home now helps them to pause and get direction again," Philomena McCann told GMTV. "They are taking legal advice and trying to work through the maze that is the Portuguese legal system."
In an interview with a British newspaper last week, Kate McCann said Portuguese police had pressed her to confess that she had killed Madeleine accidentally, then hid her body and pretended that the girl had been abducted in a massive cover-up.
"They are basically saying, 'If you confess Madeleine had an accident, and that I panicked and hid the body in a bag for a month then got rid of it in a hire car, I'd get two or three years' suspended sentence,"' she was quoted as telling the Sunday Mirror on Friday after her first police interrogation.
Although Portuguese police named the McCanns suspects in the May 3 disappearance of their daughter, they did not confiscate their passports or restrict their movements.
Gerry McCann said he and his wife had returned home "with the full agreement of the Portuguese authorities and police."
The McCanns say Madeleine vanished from a hotel room in southern Portugal's Algarve region, where she and her siblings were sleeping, while her parents ate dinner at a nearby restaurant.
Until Friday, suspicion had centered on Robert Murat, a British man who lived near the hotel from which Madeleine disappeared and who was the only formal suspect. He has not been charged, and he has said he is innocent.
The case took a turn in recent days, after police said forensic tests on evidence gathered months after the girl vanished found traces of blood in the couple's car. The traces, apparently missed in earlier tests, were uncovered by sniffer dogs brought from Britain.
The couple's ordeal has drawn attention around the world, partly because of an international campaign they led to find their daughter.
The McCanns have toured Europe with photos of Madeleine and the child's stuffed animals and clothing, even meeting with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican. Celebrities including children's author J.K. Rowling and soccer star David Beckham made public appeals that helped the family raise more than $2 million.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.