Paedophile investigated by McCann team

23 May 2009
The Journal

BRITISH police were last night preparing to interview a convicted paedophile in Germany who is being investigated over Madeleine McCann's disappearance.

Raymond Hewlett, 64, is alleged to have been staying near the McCanns' holiday flat in Praia da Luz, Portugal, when the girl went missing in 2007.

UK-born Hewlett, a former soldier who previously lived in Blackpool and Telford, was jailed several times for sexually assaulting young girls.

He is now reportedly being treated for throat cancer in Germany but is wanted for questioning by British detectives.

West Yorkshire Police confirmed they were seeking him in connection with an indecent assault in 1975.

"We have made contact with the German authorities. We are just waiting for clearance so we can actually go and speak to him regarding that incident," a spokeswoman said. "We cannot go into details on the incident." Two retired UK detectives hired by Madeleine's parents to search for their daughter hope to interview Hewlett with the help of British police.

A source said: "A proper police force such as West Yorkshire may get first crack. It's then a question of us liaising with the police to see what access we can get." But the source added: "He is one of a number of possible leads that we are looking at. We are not going to give it any more weight than that. We are being quite cautious on this." Questions were raised about Hewlett's time in Portugal by a couple who met him on holiday, the Daily Mirror reported.

Alan and Cindy Thompson said the sex offender was living with his wife and six children in a converted Dodge truck travelling from campsite to campsite in the Algarve and southern Spain. Hewlett allegedly told the couple he was approached by some "Gypsy tourists" offering to buy his daughter just before Madeleine went missing.

They also recalled him mentioning a "business" trip to Morocco, where there were several alleged sightings of Madeleine following her disappearance.

Hewlett reportedly told the Thompsons he was at a market in the Portuguese town of Fuseta, 30 miles from Praia da Luz, when Madeleine vanished.

He had told the couple he had done nothing wrong and they were judging him based on what they knew of his past.

He said: "If you've chosen to believe anything I can't do anything about it anyway, so there you go. Catch 22." It is believed the Thompsons attempted to contact British police with their concerns about Hewlett some time ago but were not successful.

Leicestershire Police, which handled the British end of the Madeleine inquiry, refused to comment.

Madeleine was nearly four when she went missing from her family's apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007

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