West Yorkshire paedophile probed over Madeleine disappearance

22 May 2009
Yorkshire Evening Post

West Yorkshire Police have confirmed they too want to question a convicted paedophile 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 went missing in May 2007, according to reports.

Hewlett, who grew up in Blackpool, Lancashire, has been jailed several times for sexual offences against young girls.

The former soldier, who also lived in Telford, Shropshire, is wanted for questioning by West Yorkshire police in connection with a case dating back more than 30 years.

The Daily Mirror today published a picture of the 64-year-old who, the paper said, was being treated for throat cancer in a German hospital.

Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry, said Hewlett was being looked at by investigators working for the couple from Rothley in Leicestershire.

He told BBC News: "It's my understanding that if you are on the sexual offenders register you are supposed to alert the authorities to your movements.

"I understand that in this case Mr Hewlett's whereabouts weren't known to a number of police forces for some time.

"Now that he is being treated for an illness in Germany it's up to the individual police forces as to what they do with that information."

He said Madeleine's parents were "fully aware" of the development and added the couple's investigators had been in Portugal for the last week.

A spokeswoman for West Yorkshire Police confirmed they want to speak to Mr Hewlett.

She said: "We are actively seeking him in connection with an indecent assault in 1975."

The alarm was raised about Hewlett by a couple who met him while on holiday in Portugal, the newspaper said.

Alan and Cindy Thompson said Hewlett was living with his wife and six children in a converted Dodge truck travelling from campsite to campsite.

Mr Thompson, 56, told the Mirror Hewlett said he was approached by some "Gipsy tourists" offering to buy his daughter just before Madeleine went missing.

Mrs Thompson, 47, said: "We didn't think too much of this at the time. Ray and his family led a desperate hand-to-mouth 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 in the months after her disappearance.

Earlier this week, the Thompsons contacted Hewlett to question him about his movements, the Mirror said.

Asked about his Morocco trip, he said: "Yes, so? That makes me guilty then?"

"In Morocco, everything's worth something. You can get 25 euros for an old bike."

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

He said: "That place where she was abducted from, I have to have a good memory see, there was a market on that same Sunday.

"We drove there on the Saturday. We were parked there. As I drove out there I saw police going the other way. So it's all very clear for me. I know exactly where I was. I wasn't anywhere near there. Where did you get that I was there?"

Madeleine disappeared on Thursday May 3, 2007.

Hewlett said when he left the market he returned to a campsite in Tavira, where he was staying.

He said: "I do remember where I was that particular weekend. Later I was parked...a mighty long way from where that kid went missing from. If you'd gone in our truck you couldn't have got away with it, driving that about.

"You'd have stood out like a sore thumb."

In September 1972 Hewlett abducted a 12-year-old girl and took her on to moors near his home in Todmorden, West Yorkshire.

He incapacitated her with a rag soaked in paint thinners and she only escaped being raped after he ejaculated prematurely.

In 1978 Hewlett attacked another girl, this time putting a gun to her back but she managed to escape.

He was also questioned over the 1975 murder of 11-year-old Lesley Molseed, following the release of Stefan Kiszko who was wrongly imprisoned for the crime.

Another man, Ronald Castree, was eventually convicted of the girl's murder in 2007.

Hewlett told the Thompsons he had done nothing wrong and they were judging him based on what they knew of his past, the paper reported.

He said: "If you've chosen to believe anything I can't do anything about it anyway, so there you go. Catch 22.

"You're basing it on someone's past, rather. That means the person's past is important. Doesn't make him guilty. You shouldn't be talking to me about it. I've done nothing wrong, nothing, nothing.

"I don't actually believe that child was actually kidnapped, let alone murdered."

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