New lead in Maddie case

22 May 2009
Evening Gazette

A convicted paedophile is being investigated in connection with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Briton Raymond Hewlett was staying near Praia da Luz, in Portugal, when the three-year-old vanished in May 2007, according to reports.

Hewlett was jailed several times for sexual offences against girls. A source said he is wanted for questioning by police forces in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, and Leicestershire, as well as by the Republic of Ireland's gardai. A national newspaper published a picture of the 64-year-old who, it said, was being treated for throat cancer in a German hospital.

Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry, said Hewlett was a line of inquiry being looked at by the Leicestershire couple's investigators. Mr Mitchell said: "Mr Hewlett is an individual of interest to the Madeleine investigation but I would stress it is just one line of inquiry." The alarm was raised about Hewlett by a couple who met him on holiday in Portugal, the paper said.

Alan and Cindy Thompson said Hewlett was living with his wife and six children in a Dodge truck travelling from campsite to campsite.. Mr Thompson, 56, said: "Hewlett befriended us but kept quiet about his past. We were mortified and disgusted to discover the truth." They described a conversation in which Hewlett said he was approached by some "Gipsy tourists" offering to buy his daughter just before Madeleine went missing.

Mrs Thompson, 47, said: "Ray and his family led a desperate hand-tomouth lifestyle and someone may have thought he'd be tempted to sell one of his six children." They also recalled him mentioning a "business" trip to Morocco, where there were several alleged sightings of Madeleine.

Hewlett told the Thompsons he was at a market in the Portuguese town of Fuseta, 30 miles from Praia da Luz, when Madeleine disappeared on Thursday, May 3, 2007.

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