Convicted former soldier new suspect in Madeleine case

23 May 2009
New Zealand Herald
Chris Irvine and Lucy Cockcroft

Raymond Hewlett, a convicted British paedophile responsible for a number of sex attacks in the last 40 years, is being investigated over the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, it has emerged.

Hewlett, a former soldier, is believed to have been living an hour's drive from the resort of Praia da Luz, in Portugal, when she disappeared in April 2007, reports said.

The 64-year-old has a long record of sex attacks on young girls and is wanted by police in Britain and Ireland. He has been on the run since Madeleine's disappearance.

The new information is thought to have emerged after Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, made a string of international media appearances to issue a fresh appeal for information on the second anniversary of her disappearance.

New material released included a computer-aided image of what she may look like now, aged 6, while another was a sketch of a suspect seen near the holiday complex.

Hewlett, described by detectives as cunning and a danger to children, is a former Scots Guardsman who has worked as a trawlerman and fairground operator.

He has been jailed several times for sexual offences against young girls.

Hewlett is also wanted by some British police forces for questioning about sex attacks stretching back nearly 30 years.

It is not known if he was interviewed by Portuguese police but they have been informed he may have been involved in her disappearance.

The search for Madeleine is headed by two retired UK policemen, Dave Edgar, a former RUC and Cheshire Police officer, and Arthur Cowley, previously of Merseyside Police, who run Alpha Investigations Group and have been hired by the Find Madeleine Fund to investigate missed leads.

Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for the McCann family, said: ``My understanding is he is currently receiving hospital treatment and is currently in Germany.

``Kate and Gerry are fully aware of the development and have been for a little while.

``This is one line of inquiry in an ongoing investigation led by two former police officers.''

He added: ``Three police forces have an interest in him and want to talk to him, I believe, about other matters.

``He has a background that would be of interest to any police force.''

He refused to comment on whether Hewlett was in police custody.

The alarm was raised about Hewlett by a couple who met him while on holiday in Portugal.

When Alan and Cindy Thompson met Hewlett, he was living with his wife and six children in a converted Dodge truck travelling from campsite to campsite.

Mr Thompson told the Daily Mirror: ``Hewlett befriended us but kept quiet about his terrible past.

They recalled him mentioning a business trip to Morocco where there were several alleged sightings of Madeleine in the months after her disappearance.

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