On run in Germany, the child sex beast in Maddie probe

22 May 2009
The Sun
Antonella Lazzeri and Simon Hughes
Rapist who lived near Mccanns' holiday town

Fugitive British paedophile Raymond Hewlett was last night sensationally named as a key suspect in Madeleine McCann's disappearance. Hewlett, 64, closely resembled an artist's impression of a man seen near the McCanns' holiday apartment. And he was living less than an hour away from the scene of Maddie's abduction in Praia da Luz, Portugal, two years ago.

Hewlett, originally from Yorkshire, was quizzed at the time by Portuguese police investigating Maddie's disappearance. But he was given an alibi by a 15-year-old girl. Now he is under renewed suspicion after making bizarre comments about the case to his friends and family. Details of his comments were passed to a team of British private detectives who are investigating Maddie's disappearance. It is believed his alibi is also being challenged.


A British couple raised the alarm about Hewlett after meeting him while on holiday in Portugal. Alan and Cindy Thompson said he was living in a truck with his wife and six children, travelling from one campsite to another. Mr Thompson said: "Hewlett befriended us but kept quiet about his past. We were mortified when we discovered the truth."

Hewlett told the couple that "gipsies" had offered him money to sell one of his kids. But he has denied involvement in Maddie's disappearance, saying: "I've done nothing wrong, nothing, nothing. I don't actually believe that child was kidnapped, let alone murdered."

Hewlett has convictions for sex offences dating back to the 1970s — and sources say he is wanted for questioning by police in Manchester, West Yorkshire, Leicestershire and the Republic of Ireland.

The McCann family's team of detectives traced Hewlett to Germany, where he is understood to be in hospital undergoing treatment for cancer. Last night their spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "We are aware of Raymond Hewlett and the claims that have been made about him. "The investigators searching for Madeleine are looking into the circumstances surrounding these claims. He is an individual of interest to the investigation."

A source close to the British investigation added: "He was looked at by Portuguese police a number of times in the days after Maddie was taken. "He is back in the frame because people who have spoken to him since have become suspicious of comments he has made about Maddie. "There were several conversations which made them suspicious. Other people have begun to doubt the truth of his alibi. "They were sufficiently worried to go to the police again but they felt nothing was being done to fully investigate him. "He was then named as a person of interest to the McCanns' own investigators."

The chilling sketch of a straggly-haired man with a droopy moustache was drawn by a police artist after a holidaymaker reported seeing the suspect hanging around the apartments in May 2007. Witnesses have also said Hewlett looks remarkably like a drawing of a man seen by the McCanns' pal Jane Tanner — who believes she saw him carrying three-year-old Maddie away in his arms.

Hewlett was first convicted of raping a 12-year-old girl in Todmorden, West Yorks, in 1972.

He was jailed for a year, then got four years for attacking another girl at gunpoint in 1978.

He later served a six-year sentence for a 1988 sex attack on a girl of 14. After leaving jail he fled to Ireland, where cops believe he was responsible for a string of attempted abductions.

Hewlett, a former Scots Guardsman, has also worked as a trawlerman and fairground operator.

He is believed to have fathered at least nine children and had a string of underage girlfriends.

The source added: "Hewlett lived less than an hour away from Praia da Luz. There are suggestions he talked about children being bought and sold, as well as the Maddie case, in the weeks after she went missing. "He has also said things subsequently which have made people suspicious about him. "Portuguese authorities are aware of him — he was spoken to soon after Maddie went missing.

He left Portugal and effectively went 'on the run'. He has travelled extensively through Europe and other countries. We believe he is currently wanted by several police forces. "Hewlett is of enough interest for photographs of him to have been shown to the key witnesses. "During some conversations, which disturbed those who know him enough to make them alert authorities, he is alleged to have said he 'knew what was going on' when he was talking about Maddie."

Last night a source close to the McCanns, of Rothley, Leics, said: Kate and Gerry are aware of Hewlett. It is obviously worrying for them given his horrific background."

Timeline of quest to locate their girl

MAY 3, 2007: Maddie vanishes after Kate and Gerry McCann leave their three children asleep in their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz while they dine with friends at a tapas restaurant.

May 5: Portuguese police reveal they believe Madeleine was abducted but is still alive and in Portugal, and say they have a sketch of a suspect.

May 14: Detectives make Brit Robert Murat an "arguido", or official suspect.

May 25: They release the description of a man reported by McCann's family friend Jane Tanner August 11: Exactly 100 days after Madeleine disappeared, police publicly acknowledge that she could be dead. September 7: Portuguese cops make the McCanns "arguidos". October 2: Goncalo Amaral, the detective in charge of the inquiry, is removed from the case after criticising the British police.

October 25: The McCanns release a new artist's impression showing the man described by Jane Tanner.

February 4, 2008: Portugal's top detective, Alipio Ribeiro, says that police were "hasty" in making Madeleine's parents suspects.

July 21: The Portuguese authorities shelve investigation and lift "arguido" status of McCanns and Mr Murat.

July 24: Mr Amaral publishes a book alleging that the young girl died in her family's holiday flat on May 3. August 4: Thousands of pages of evidence from the Portuguese police files are made public.

April 22, 2009: The McCanns record an interview with chat show host Oprah Winfrey.

May 2: US forensic experts create a computer image of how Maddie would look two years on.

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