KATE McCann considered suicide and shared “dark thoughts” with her psychologist after a Portuguese detective published a book accusing her of faking her daughter Madeleine’s disappearance, a libel trial has heard.
Mrs McCann spent days weeping after the book alleged she and her husband Gerry hid their daughter’s body because she had died of an accident, her psychologist said.
Alan Pike said the McCann family had been trying to return to a normal family routine after the loss of Madeleine in May 2007, when the book by Gonçalo Amaral was published and traumatised them once again.
Mr Pike, who was assigned to the McCanns by tour operator Mark Warner just days after Madeleine’s disappearance, said: “She spent many days in tears and sobbing at the injustice done to Madeleine by the very people who should be helping her.”
Mr Pike who works for a centre treating traumatised families, said the book published in July 2008 had provoked “secondary trauma” that can be “more profound, deep-seated and often more extreme,” than the initial shock of losing a child.
He told the court: “Kate in particular wasn’t very well and she shared some dark thoughts with me about not being around anymore.
“She said killing herself was an option to end the trauma she was experiencing. To share that with anyone will often alarm or worry the people they live with so I think I was the only person Kate shared this with."
Mr Pike gave evidence at a court in Lisbon, Portugal, as part of a libel case against former Polícia Judiciária detective Gonçalo Amaral.
Mr Amaral’s book, The Truth of the Lie, as well as a documentary based on it broadcast in Portugal in 2009, allege that Madeleine died accidentally in a Praia da Luz holiday apartment, and that Mr and Mrs McCann hid her body and faked her abduction.
The couple are suing the former policeman for damages equivalent to £1 million.
Mr Pike said the couple were "horrified” at the content of the book and its conclusions caused them more distress.
“One of its most devastating effects was that the family worried about its influence on public opinion in Portugal," he said.
"People would believe that Madeleine was dead and they would stop looking for her. Publishing the book meant that the chances of finding Madeleine were diminished.”
Mr Amaral's book was published just three days after the criminal case into Madeleine’s disappearance in which the McCanns were named as “arguidos”, or formal suspects, was closed.
The book sold 120,000 copies before it was removed from bookshops after the McCanns won an injunction against Mr Amaral and his publishers.
In an afternoon session the McCann’s former press advisor in Portugal, Cláudia Nogueira, told the court that the documentary based on Mr. Amaral’s book broadcast by Portuguese channel TVI, who are co-defendants in the libel case, was seen by 2.2 million people in Portugal and had a 50 percent share of the viewing audience.
Mrs McCann has written before that she was plagued by depression and suicidal thoughts after the abduction of Madeleine.
In a book chronicling her daughter’s disappearance and the toll it took on her family, she wrote that she had an overwhelming urge to swim out to her death at sea.
She wrote: “I had an overwhelming urge to swim out across the ocean, as hard and as fast as I could; to swim and swim and swim until I was so far out and so exhausted I could just allow the water to pull me under and relieve me of this torment.
“I wasn't keeping that desire to myself, either. I was shouting it out to anyone who happened to be in the room. Both this urge and the expression of it were, I suppose, an outlet for the crucifying anguish.
"Somehow, inflicting physical pain on myself seemed to be the only possible way of escaping my internal pain,” she wrote in the book published two years ago.
The libel case continues.
Ben Farmer and Catarina Chase Aleixo, Telegraph.co.uk