'Super recogniser' draws 'accurate' modern Maddie McCann to help police find her
‘Madeleine’s got a high forehead and she’s got a wide forehead, that’s clear for me to see’
A woman who considers herself a “super recogniser” has created what she thinks is the most accurate image ever of Madeleine McCann at the age she would be now.
Simone Malik has a self-declared “gift” for recognising people’s faces. She believes her portrait is more accurate than any computer-generated images produced of Madeleine. Malik claims that software “couldn’t recognise” Madeleine’s true features and believes her gift allows her to predict the ageing process and what Madeleine would now look like at the age of 18.
The 41-year-old believes the missing girl would now have a “wider forehead”, and her nose profile would be more similar to her aunt Philomena than her mother or father.
Though you may initially discount such “gifts”, Malik’s sketches led to the capture of a child murderer and rapist in Pakistan. Now, she believes her new image could lead to Madeleine.
She said: “I know as a super recogniser that is her face, that’s her nose. I think she’d be quite easy to find if she is alive, which we hope that she is.
“I think people just need some guidance that this may possibly be her face that we’re looking for.”
Malik’s journey began after looking at the computer-generated image of Madeleine created last year by professors at Bradford University.
“Madeleine’s got a high forehead and she’s got a wide forehead, that’s clear for me to see – I think people looking at her image as a child would agree with it,” Malik said.
“[But] on this computerised image, it was a narrow forehead.
“I believe the reason that was the case is because in the original picture, which was used to create this 2020 image, she had a fringe.
“So the fringe was obscuring her forehead and her true features, which the computer couldn’t recognise or go beyond.”
She added that the image looked like she had a bottom-heavy face, small forehead, and shorter nose. But Malik did not agree with such depictions.
She continued: “Usually, children are like their mother or their father, or a bit of both, but neither does her mother or father have the wide nose and square tip.
“I decided to do a bit more digging, and as I did some digging, I found a very interesting fact: somebody with exactly that nose in her family.
“And it’s actually Philomena McCann, who is Gerry McCann’s sister, so it would be Madeleine’s aunty, from her dad’s side.”
“Super Recogniser International” works with people like Malik who have such gifts.
They explain that: “The average person can only remember a very limited amount of faces they have seen, but super recognisers can successfully identify significantly more.”
Retired Scotland Yard detective and founder of the Super Recogniser agency, Mike Neville, says the sketch is “valuable” in the search.
“Simone is a super recogniser, so I recruit people who never forget faces, so they’ve got a real skill for looking at things,” he explained.
“What we find with super recognisers is they look at unchanging features, and she’s sort of done that in reverse – she’s looked at what she should look like now.
“It’s a valuable addition if Madeline McCann is still alive to try and find her.
“I think it will keep the public interested and obviously give us a different perspective on what she should look like today.”
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