British police to question the latest suspect

24 May 2009
The Express on Sunday
Ted Jeory

Madeleine McCann may have been taken to a luxury villa just half-a-mile from where she was abducted, Portuguese detectives were told. Suspicions were raised by the behaviour of the people who rented the £1million house and because video cameras were reportedly seen there along with pictures of children on a wall, the Sunday Express has learned. Our revelations come as West Yorkshire police prepare to fly to Germany to question 64-year-old convicted paedophile Raymond Hewlett over a sex attack on a girl 25 years ago.

Retired detectives working for Kate and Gerry McCann are also hoping to interview Hewlett to ask him directly whether he knows anything about three-year-old Madeleine's abduction. Hewlett is in intensive care at a German hospital recovering from an operation for throat cancer. In the last 24 hours, his condition has worsened and there are concerns he may have only days to live.

If well enough, it is expected he will be asked if he ever met paedophiles in the Algarve town of Praia da Luz around the time Madeleine vanished. One theory the McCanns' investigators are examining is whether there was a paedophile ring operating in the area two years ago.

The Sunday Express has been conducting intensive inquiries in the resort town and asked scores of people if they saw anyone acting suspiciously. One British resident told us both she and a friend, a retired British woman detective, went to Portuguese police about a couple who rented the villa. The resident told us: "I used to meet up with the retired detective to walk our dogs down by the seafront. Both of us became concerned about a couple aged about 30 who rented the villa.

"What struck us was that they drove a very tatty, British-registered small red saloon car. It was one those vehicles you would normally see on a gypsy camp, not going in and out of a very expensive villa.

"We only saw them coming and going in the car and not walking about, which is odd given the location of the villa. We both got the impression they were trying to keep a low profile.''

Another source said that after Maddie disappeared, search teams combed the seafront, where luxury villas stand next to large areas of barren land. Anglican priest Paul Luckman, owner and publisher of Portugal News, said: "The location and description of that villa mentioned by your source fits the one that a searcher told me about. The searcher said the villa was empty and that they got inside.

"The search dog handler said the villa had a room with a kind of amateur studio with video equipment and cameras with toys and pictures of children on the wall. "He felt it was something to do with paedophiles. He told the police and they seemed to know something about it, but we don't think they took it any further." He confirmed the villa fits the description and location of the one he was told about.

The McCanns' private investigators have been conducting surveillance on several properties for some time. Retired Det ective Inspector Dave Edgar returned from Portugal on Friday night and is pursuing a number of leads.


The brother of paedophile Raymond Hewlett - now the prime suspect in the case - says their mother will be "turning in her grave" now he has been linked to the disappearance. Devastated Bernard Hewlett, 59, said the only comfort was that his late mother, Lois, and father, Richard, will not have to face yet another police inquiry into their eldest son.

"We washed our hands of Raymond many years ago, we are a decent family, " said civil servant Bernard at his home in Blackpool, Lancashire. "We don't want anything to do with perverts. Mum will be turning in her grave to know what he's supposed to have done to Madeleine McCann."

Ex-Scots Guards soldier Raymond Hewlett, 64, was branded "evil incarnate" yesterday by his first known victim. Bette Balfour was just 12, in 1972, when Hewlett lured her into his car, drugged her then sexually assaulted her in Yorkshire. "He still haunts me. I believe he is quite capable of taking Maddie, " said Bette, 49.

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