Maddie suspect 'hid out' in Forres in '90s

27 May 2009
Forres Gazette
Tanya McLaren

A convicted sex offender who sought refuge in Forres during the late 1990s is wanted for questioning by detectives investigating the the disappearance of Madeleine McCann from her parents' holiday flat in Portugal two years ago. advertising Convicted paedophile Raymond Hewlett (64), is now being treated for cancer in hospital in Germany where he is protesting his innocence. Media reports claim that Hewlett is also wanted by detectives for questioning by UK and Irish police in connection with other offences dating back more than 30 years.

He was interviewed in Forres during October, 1997, by a national newspaper over allegations he was connected with the sex killing of 11-year-old Lesley Moleseed in West Yorkshire in 1975. Hewlett apparently fled to the Highlands in 1997 after being named in a book as the most likely suspect in the Moleseed murder.

Stefan Kisko was wrongly convicted of Lesley's murder and died after his release from prison following years behind bars. A third man, Ronald Castree, who was convicted of her murder in 2007, has always protested his innocence and is set to appeal his conviction.

Former local councillor, Rex McIntosh, who was interviewed about Hewlett in Forres during the 1990s, said that he was shocked to hear of the Maddy connection. "I remember a journalist turning up at my door in the 1990s and telling me about this man," he said. "It all happened very quickly and he left really quickly once it was made public." Mr McIntosh said that it was "worrying" that offenders could live in our midst without people knowing anything. "I suppose these people have to live somewhere," he said. "but no one wants them to live on our doorstep. As I recall, this man lived in the Royal Hotel."

Grampian Police, who were not aware that Hewlett was in Forres during the late 1990s until it was reported in a newspaper, said they had never had anything to do with him.

Meantime, the Scottish journalist who interviewed Mr Hewlett at the Rose Garden in Forres in 1997 said he was surprised that the convicted offender was wanted in connection with the Maddy case. The reporter, who did not wish to be named, still remembers the meeting and described Hewlett as controlling.

"Like a lot of people who want to disappear he came North to the Highlands, where he thought he wouldn't be noticed, but he just stuck out like a sore thumb." he said. "We heard he was in Forres and was claiming benefits. I went looking for him to interview and met him when he was walking along the path by the Mosset near the Rose garden."

"He was with his German girlfriend and when I introduced myself and said that I wanted to ask him questions about Lesley Moleseed. He immediately turned and shouted to her to get away from him," he added. "She was obviously frightened by Hewlett and wanted to know what was going on but did what he said, and went and stood a few hundred yards away waiting." Hewlett apparently admitted to being interviewed previously about Lesley Moleseed, and said that it was all in the past and he didn't want to talk about it.

Hewlett was with his then German girlfriend, Marianne Schmucker, who was apparently pregnant and had been living at the Findhorn Foundation during their stay in Forres. "She was living at the Findhorn Foundation at the time, but he wasn't," he said. "Hewlett had been living at a similar community in Ireland and I don't know what had happened, but I think they phoned ahead to say that he was on his way. As a result he wasn't welcomed at the foundation."

It is unclear how long Hewlett was in Forres, but the reporter said: "I got the impression that he was on the run up here. At least, once word got around and the story was printed, he disappeared from Forres in the early hours of the next morning, before the media pack arrived."

Hewlett, a former Scots Guardsman, 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 and is wanted by police in Britain and Ireland for questioning in connection with other cases. A number of national newspapers have carried stories about Hewlett over the past few days, all of them claiming that he was living in a campsite, just an hour's drive from the resort of Praia da Luz when Maddy disappeared in May 2007.

The alert over Hewlett was raised by a British couple who met him while on an extended holiday in Portugal. A daily newspaper has reported that he claimed some "gipsy tourists" had approached him offering cash for his own daughter who is blonde-haired, blue-eyed like Madeleine, which he refused, but said that he had gone to Morocco with his family on a "good business trip" but did not reveal any details of what the deal had been.

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