Paedophile to be quizzed in Maddy case

23 May 2009
The Irish Examiner

BRITISH police were yesterday preparing to interview a convicted paedophile in Germany who is being investigated over Madeleine McCann’s disappearance. 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 is wanted for questioning by West Yorkshire police in connection with a case dating back more than 30 years. The 64-year-old is 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 is my understanding if you are on the sexual offenders register you are supposed to alert the authorities to your movements. I understand 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 is up to the individual police forces as to what they do."

He said Madeleine’s parents were "fully aware" of the development and he added that the couple’s investigators had been in Portugal for the last week. Mr Mitchell also said there had been a number of "encouraging calls" since the publicity surrounding the second anniversary.

A spokeswoman for West Yorkshire Police confirmed they want to speak to Hewlett regarding an indecent assault in 1975. "We have made contact with the German authorities. We are just waiting for clearance," she said.

The alarm was raised about Hewlett by a couple who met him while on holiday in Portugal, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported. 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 paper that Hewlett said he was approached by some "gipsy tourists" who offered to buy his daughter just before Madeleine went missing.

Ms 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.

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

Hewlett told the Thompsons he was at a market in the Portuguese town of Fuseta, 48 kilometres 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... As I drove out there I saw police going the other way. So it’s all very clear for me... I wasn’t anywhere near there."  (Blogger note:  Sole source of this allegation - Thompsons)

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: "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."

Hewlett was convicted of abducting a 12-year-old in September 1972 and jailed for a year. He took her on to moors near his home in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, and incapacitated her with a rag soaked in paint thinners. She only escaped being raped after he ejaculated prematurely.

In 1978, Hewlett attacked another girl, putting a gun to her back. He was jailed for four years. Hewlett 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 murder.

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... Doesn’t make him guilty. I’ve done nothing wrong...."

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