23 May 2009
Daily Mail
Michael Seamark


DETECTIVES are waiting to fly to Germany to question Raymond Hewlett, the predatory paedophile named yesterday as a possible suspect in Madeleine McCann's disappearance. West Yorkshire Police confirmed that they are 'actively seeking' the 64-year-old former soldier - who was in the Algarve when three-year-old Madeleine vanished.

Hewlett, who has a horrifying record of sex attacks on girls, is wanted in connection with an indecent assault on an eight-year-old in 1975.

But private investigators employed by Kate and Gerry McCann, who have recently returned from spending several days in Portugal, are also looking at whether he is linked to their daughter's disappearance.

Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for the McCanns, said Hewlett - currently being treated for cancer in a German clinic - was 'a person of interest' but stressed that he was 'but one lead among a number'. He added: 'It's a name that they (the parents) are aware of. They have been for a little while now.' Last night Hewlett had been transferred to the intensive care ward of the hospital in the town of Achen and was too ill to meet anybody.

His potential link to Madeleine's disappearance in May 2007 was raised by a British couple who met him while on holiday in Portugal.

Alan and Cindy Thompson claim Hewlett told them that some 'gipsy tourists' had approached him offering cash for his daughter who, like Madeleine, had blonde hair and blue eyes.

Mrs Thompson 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.'

The couple say Hewlett also told them how he had gone to Morocco - scene of several reported sightings of Madeleine in the months after her disappearance - with his family to make a sale.

He didn't tell them what he had sold but that it was 'a good business trip and he made a profit'.

The Thompsons met Hewlett, his German partner Marianna and six children as he travelled from campin-site to campsite in Portugal in a converted Dodge truck.

They say they were horrified when, after returning to Britain, they discovered he had been jailed three times for kidnapping and molesting young girls and is still wanted by British and Irish police about sex attacks going back 30 years.

Earlier this week, the Thompsons contacted Hewlett in hospital and asked him 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.'

They also discussed the fact that he was little more than an hour's drive from the McCann apartment at Praia da Luz when Madeleine disappeared.

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: 'I know exactly where I was. I wasn't anywhere near there. Where did you get that I was there?'

But he said he was at Fuseta over a weekend. Madeleine disappeared on a Thursday - May 3.

Hewlett said when he left the market he returned to a campsite in Tavira, where he was staying 'Öa mighty long way from where that kid went missing from.'

Hewlett told the Thompsons 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.

'I've done nothing wrong, nothing, nothing. I don't actually believe that child was actually kidnapped, let alone murdered.'

The Thompsons are believed to have met Hewlett in the months leading up to Madeleine's disappearance in May 2007. He had apparently been receiving treatment for cancer at a hospital in Faro on May 2008 as well as at a hospital just across the Spanish border.

Holidaymakers on the 'wild campsite' where he stayed described him as an 'odd man' who was seen with up to five children in an old delivery van.

French tourist Anne Parisot, 70, said: 'Most of the time he was cooped up in the van and made it clear no one should go over. He seemed quite cold.'

There are unconfirmed reports that Hewlett has been questioned by Portuguese police about Madeleine and was given an alibi by a girl of 15 but other reports suggest officers never interviewed him face to face.

Hewlett and his family apparently left Portugal sometime last year and headed for Germany, his partner's country of birth.

He and his family are apparently living in an apartment overlooking a kindergarten but he is in the Universitatsklinikum Aachen Hospital.

West Yorkshire police want to question him about the indecent assault allegation, which emerged during their investigation into the 1975 murder of 11-year-old Lesley Molseed - which another man was convicted of.

A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said: 'We are currently seeking permission from the German authorities to speak to him.'

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