Madeleine McCann: German pedophile is new suspect in disappearance

A German man who has been convicted of two cases of “sexual contact with girls” is a new suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.McCann disappeared in 2007 from a Portuguese holiday villa while her parents were dining at a restaurant nearby. She was three years old.The suspect, who is in prison after the other convictions, has not been named. He is said to be 6ft tall, white, and blond.He was living a transient lifestyle around Praia de Luz, where McCann was taken, at the time of her disappearance, police said.A family spokesperson told the BBC that of all the suspects so far, “there has never been something as clear cut as that.”Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A German convicted pedophile who had stayed near the site of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance has been identified as a new suspect in her long-running case. German police, who have partnered with UK police, said in a TV appeal on Wednesday night that the man had been staying in a camper van near the holiday resort the girl’s family were renting at the time of her disappearance. They did not name the suspect.Madeleine McCann disappeared at the age of three in 2007 during a family holiday in Praia de Luz, in the Algarve region of Portugal. At the time her parents Gerry and Kate were dining at a nearby tapas bar.

The ongoing search for her has spanned 13 years, and attracted enormous attention from the media in the UK and beyond.The latest police appeal includes images of the camper van and another vehicle connected to the suspect, as well as the phone numbers of a call between the suspect and another person.

A photo released by London’s Metropolitan Police of a VW camper van connected to a suspect in the Madeleine McCann disappearance case

Metropolitan Police

Christian Hoppe from Germany’s federal criminal police office and Detective Chief Inspector Mark Cranwell from London’s Metropolitan Police spoke to Germany’s ZDF TV on Wednesday night. Hoppe said the unnamed suspect has two previous convictions for “sexual contact with girls,” the BBC reported.In the Met Police appeal, the suspect is described as white with short blond hair and about 6ft tall, with a slim build at the time of the disappearance.

He is said to have been 30 years old in 2007, which would make him around 43 now.The suspect had been travelling round Portugal in the yellow and white Volkswagen camper van in what Cranwell told German TV was a “transient lifestyle,” the BBC reported.He also has been connected to a 1993 Jaguar XJR6 with a German number plate, that was seen in the area in 2006 and 2007.According to the Met Police appeal, while the camper van had a Portuguese number plate, the Jaguar had a German one. On 4 May 2007, the day after McCann’s disappearance, the car was re-registered to someone else in Germany.

A picture released by London’s Metropolitan Police of a 1997 Jaguar connected to the suspect in the Madeleine McCann disappearance case

Metropolitan Police

The suspect also made a half-hour phone call from the number +351 916 510 683, starting at 7.32pm on 3 May 2007, the day of Madeleine’s disappearance. 

The call was received to the number +351 912 730 680 in the Praia de Luz area.Police said the suspect had been living in and around the Algarve between 1995 and 2007. Up until a year before the disappearance, he had been living in a ramshackle farm building not far from the beach where Madeleine played on her holiday, according to Sky News. A former neighbor told the channel that he was always “a bit angry” and left rent unpaid when he abruptly left the property. 

The neighbor, who helped to clear up the place after, said its condition when he left was “disgusting, absolutely vile,” according to Sky News. “It had been trashed, with broken stuff like computers all over the place,” Sky News reported them as saying. “We found a bin bag and inside were wigs and exotic clothing, whether just fancy dress or something stranger I couldn’t tell.”

A picture released by London’s Metropolitan Police of a 1997 Jaguar connected to the suspect in the Madeleine McCann disappearance case

Metropolitan Police

According to the BBC, the UK police formally treat the case as a disappearance, as Madeleine’s death has never been definitively proved. Their German counterparts are treating it as a murder investigation, however. 

Her parents Gerry and Kate have “never given up hope” that she might be found alive, but are “realistic,” family spokesman Clarence Mitchell told the BBC. He told BBC Breakfast: “Of all the thousands of leads and potential suspects that have been mentioned in the past, there has never been something as clear cut as that from not just one, but three police forces.”

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