Paedophile told lies about Maddie

21 June 2009
Sunday Tribune
Vivian Attwood

POLICE investigating the disappearance of missing Madeleine McCann are involved in a race against time to probe the lies told by convicted paedophile Raymond Hewlett. It emerged this week that Hewlett, 64, who is terminally ill with throat cancer, had lied to police on significant aspects of the case, including whether he had seen the three-year-old prior to her disappearance from the Praia da Luz holiday resort in Portugal in May 2007.

Hewlett served three jail terms in the UK for sex crimes involving children before he took up a nomadic existence criss-crossing Europe with his wife and children. He has been on the run since his release from jail after serving six years for a sex attack on a 12-year-old girl in 1988.

It has been established he was in the vicinity of Praia de Luz when Maddie vanished. Suspicion that he might have knowledge of her whereabouts was rekindled this week when it emerged he had misled police about the make of vehicle he was driving at the time of her disappearance.

The paedophile claimed he had a single vehicle – a distinctive blue Dodge truck – and that it would have been noticed if he had driven into the resort. In a dramatic twist, however, a former acquaintance of Hewlett has told investigators that Hewlett actually owned a white Mercedes van at the time, similar to one seen parked near the McCann’s holiday flat before Maddie disappeared.

Former Scots Guard Peter Verran, 46, who befriended Hewlett at a Moroccan campsite in June 2007, said: “He told me he owned a white Transit-type before his blue truck, but swapped it for the Dodge when he left Portugal for Morocco.”

Protesting his innocence to police, and insisting that he had only the Dodge truck, Hewlett said: “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.”

Adding substance to the theory that Hewlett may have abducted Maddie is his seeming obsession with the case after she disappeared. Verran told police that when he met Hewlett in Morocco, Hewlett confessed that he was fixated by the case, and had been outside the Praia da Luz holiday flat “many times,” and parked his van close to the complex.

A source close to the investigation into Maddie’s disappearance said: “Hewlett has repeatedly said he could not have been at the scene without someone remembering his distinctive truck. But if he was driving a Mercedes van at the time, his reasoning is shot to pieces. It would also raise the question of why he lied about the truck in the first place.”

Hewlett has admitted he was in the Algarve, and left five weeks after Maddie was last seen. This week’s doubts emerged, though, over his assertion that he caught a ferry from Faro to Morocco.

“I knew people on the docks at Faro and I got the captain of a ferry to take us over for free,” he said. In fact, there is no public ferry between Faro and Morocco.

The paedophile also claimed he stayed at a Moroccan campsite for two months and earned e300 (R3 000) selling car parts. However, this assertion, too, does not tally. The campsite cost e10 a night, and he would also have had to provide food for his wife and seven children, and put petrol in his vehicle.

In an apparent about-turn on Thursday, Hewlett, who refuses to give an alibi for the night Maddie disappeared, but has consistently maintained his innocence, told a German newspaper: “Yes, I saw Maddie.”

He allegedly admitted seeing Maddie twice, and described a distinctive mark in her right eye. However, he later recanted the statement.

While Hewlett allowed a blood sample to be drawn for DNA profiling, this might be yet another crafty ploy.

He is undoubtedly well aware that Portuguese police did not find any DNA evidence from the missing child against which a suspect’s DNA could be compared.

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