New Maddy suspect: Police hunt British paedophile

Raymond Hewlett was living an hour's drive from Praia da Luz

A British paedophile is the new focus of the hunt for Madeleine McCann. Former soldier Raymond Hewlett was living just an hour’s drive from the resort of Praia da Luz when she disappeared in May 2007.

Hewlett has a long record of sex attacks on young girls and is wanted by police in the UK and Ireland. Since Maddy’s disappearance he has gone back on the run.

Now, in a dramatic development, detectives working for Kate and Gerry McCann have flown to Germany to speak to 64-year-old Hewlett, who is being treated in a hospital there.

Sources close to the investigation said they were told he spoke to friends about Maddy in such a way that they suspected he was involved or knew what had happened to the three-year-old.

Hewlett is described by detectives as ‘cunning’ and a ‘danger to children‘ and operates by cruising in a van. He was convicted of two sex attacks on girls in the 1970s and a further attack in 1988 – for which he was jailed for six years.

The team searching for Maddy is headed by two retired UK policemen, former Detective Inspector Dave Edgar, 52, and former Detective Sergeant Arthur Cowley, 57, who has worked on ‘cold case reviews’ of old crimes.

Hewlett is believed to have been living near the Algarve town of Faro, an hour’s drive from Praia da Luz, at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance.

But Hewlett last night denied having anything to do with Maddy’s disappearance. Speaking of the time and place where she disappeared, he told the Mirror: ‘I know exactly where I was. I wasn’t anywhere near there. I’ve done nothing wrong, nothing, nothing.’

The alert over Hewlett was raised by a British couple who met him while on an extended holiday in Portugal, the Mirror has reported. He reportedly told Alan and Cindy Thompson, not long before Madeleine’s disappearance, that some ‘gipsy tourists’ had approached him offering cash for his own daughter who is blonde-haired and blue-eyed like Madeleine.

The McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: ‘We are aware of Raymond Hewlett and the claims that have been made surrounding him. The investigators searching for Madeleine are currently looking into the circumstances surrounding those claims.’

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