Cold - case quiz for pervert linked to Maddie

22 May 2009
Yorkshire Post
Rob Preece

Police from Yorkshire are preparing to fly to Germany to question a convicted paedophile who is being investigated over the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Former soldier Raymond Hewlett, who has been jailed for sex attacks on young girls in the Yorkshire region, is said to have been staying near the McCanns' holiday flat in Portugal when Madeleine went missing in May 2007.

He is undergoing treatment for throat cancer in a German hospital, but police want to interview him about an indecent assault which occurred in West Yorkshire 34 years ago. Detectives in West Yorkshire are understood to have been monitoring Hewlett's movements in Europe for "some time" and have asked German authorities for permission to question him.

A West Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: "We wish to interview Hewlett in connection with an indecent assault which occurred in 1975. "We are unable to provide any more details about the incident because it is an ongoing investigation. "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."

Hewlett, 64, who was suspected of murdering schoolgirl Lesley Molseed until DNA evidence trapped her killer, formerly lived in Todmorden, where he carried out some of his most serious attacks.

He was sentenced to 18 months in prison for abducting a 12-year-old girl and taking her on to moors near Todmorden in September 1972. He incapacitated her with a rag soaked in paint thinners, but she escaped before he could rape her.

In 1978 Hewlett attacked a 14-year-old girl in her Todmorden home, forcing her to undress while he put a gun to her back. He was convicted of attempted rape and sentenced to four years in prison, but only served 16 months.

After kidnapping another 14-year-old girl in North Wales and sexually assaulting her at knifepoint, he fled to Ireland. He was captured in 1989 and jailed for six years.

He is thought to have moved to the continent after his release, staying at various campsites in the Algarve and southern Spain. Questions were raised about his time in Portugal by a couple who met him on holiday.

Spokesman for Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry McCann, Clarence Mitchell, said Hewlett was being looked at by investigators working for the couple.
"It's my understanding that if you are on the Sex Offenders' Register you are supposed to alert the authorities to your movements," he said. "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."

The McCanns' private investigators yesterday flew back to Britain from Portugal, where they had been verifying information received following a publicity campaign marking the second anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance. They 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."

Meanwhile the disgraced former Portuguese police chief who previously led the inquiry into Madeleine McCann's disappearance was convicted of perjury in a separate case yesterday. Goncalo Amaral was given an 18-month suspended sentence by a court in Portugal.

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