Sex beast quizzed in search for Madeleine

22 May 2009
Evening Express
Albert Innes

A child sex beast who lived in Aberdeen was today named as a possible suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Convicted paedophile Raymond Hewlett made his home in the North-east on two occasions after serving time in jail for a string of horrific sex attacks. He later moved to Europe and was living at a campsite an hour’s drive from the Portuguese resort where the three-year-old went missing in May 2007.

Detectives working for her parents Kate and Gerry McCann have flown to Germany to speak to the 64-year-old, who is being treated in hospital for cancer. The move comes after a British couple, who met Hewlett while living in Portugal, learned of his criminal past and reported comments he had made about Madeleine. Today he denied having any involvement.

Hewlett, a former Scots Guardsman, was jailed for raping a 12-year-old girl in West Yorkshire in 1972. He was jailed again for attacking another girl at gunpoint in 1978 and later given a six-year sentence for a 1988 sex attack on a girl of 14.

The Evening Express can reveal that he stayed at the Royal Hotel in Forres, Moray, and near the Findhorn Foundation in October and November, 1997, but was moved on from both places when his criminal record became known. A spokesman for the Findhorn Foundation – a New Age community near Forres – said he was on their files and had “wanted by police” against his name. But he said Hewlett had not been a member of the community. Richard Coates said: “He may have requested a brochure at some time. It’s possible that he stayed in a bed and breakfast in the area.”

In 2002 police released a picture of Hewlett strolling with his girlfriend Marianne Schmucker in Forres while trying to trace him in connection with a murder investigation. It was understood Hewlett moved to Aberdeen after living in Forres and also worked as a trawlerman and for fairground operators.

Hewlett is said to have been living near the Algarve town of Faro, an hour’s drive from Praia da Luz, the resort where the McCann family was staying. Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for Kate and Gerry McCann, said: “The investigators searching for Madeleine are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding Mr Hewlett and these claims. “Hewlett is an individual of interest to the investigation. “Beyond that I cannot go into any further operational detail.”

The alert over Hewlett was raised by a British couple who met him while on an extended holiday in Portugal. Alan Thompson, 56, and his wife Cindy, 47, struck up a friendship with Hewlett and his now wife Marianne, 33, who were living in a motor home an hour from Praia da Luz. Mr Thompson said: “Hewlett befriended us but kept quiet about his terrible past. “We were mortified and disgusted to discover the truth.” They also recalled him telling how he had gone to Morocco with his family to make a “sale” but did not say what. In the months following Madeleine’s disappearance there were numerous alleged sightings of Madeleine across Morocco.

It was not known if Hewlett was ever interviewed by Portuguese police, but they have been informed about the fears that he could have been involved in an abduction. Hewlett is also wanted for questioning by several British police forces over allegations of child sex abuse in this country.

He has denied having anything to do with Madeleine’s disappearance. Speaking of the time and place where she disappeared, he said: “I know exactly where I was. I wasn’t anywhere near there. “I’ve done nothing wrong, nothing, nothing.”

West Yorkshire Police released his picture in 2002 while investigating the murder of 11-year-old Lesley Molseed whose body was dumped on the Yorkshire moors. Ronald Castree was later convicted of the crime but has been given permission to appeal. His lawyers are expected to argue Hewlett was the killer.

A West Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said they still wanted to speak to Hewlett in connection with another crime. She said: “We are actively seeking him in connection with an indecent assault in 1975.” The force confirmed that he was believed to be in the Forres area in 1997. Hewlett once featured on a Crimestoppers list of Most Wanted paedophiles.

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