Lair of a monster

31 May 2009
The Sunday Life
Rodney Edwards
This is the Ulster flat where Maddie suspect and convicted paedophile Raymond Hewlett lived in the ’90s 

A convicted paedophile who is a suspect in the disappearance of Madeline McCann previously lived in this Fermanagh block of flats. Raymond Hewlett (62) resided in a small apartment above a chip shop on Enniskillen’s Belmore Street and made several friends in the town. Hewlett is now the main suspect in the Maddie case after it emerged he lived near Praia da Luz at the time Maddie went missing from the Portuguese resort in May 2007, days before her fourth birthday.

While in Enniskillen during the 1990s he also caused alarm, with local schools sending letters home to parents. The warning letter circulated by school principals described the man as “a high risk offender with every likelihood that he will reoffend”.

In response Hewlett gave an anonymous interview to a local newspaper in which he claimed he was not a threat to local children. The pervert said: “I have put it all behind me. I am living my life. I am not a danger to anybody. I am doing nothing wrong. “I have a lot of good friends in town. A lot of them know about my past. They have not held it against me. Quite a few believe I have got a rather raw deal. “Whether I committed the offence or not, I paid for it. I say I was innocent. “People have to judge me as they find me.”

None of the current or former tenants of the apartment block in Belmore Street had any knowledge of or connection with Hewlett whatsoever.

During his time in the border county Hewlett, originally from Blackpool, was investigated for the attempted rape of a nine-year-old girl in Fermanagh.

He was part of a network of paedophiles that would hide out throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic when they came to the attention of cops in England. Hewlett took particular interest in Fermanagh because of its close proximity with the Irish border and kept on the move from Cork, Donegal, Cavan, Sligo, Louth and Fermanagh between 1991 and 1997.

As well as the Fermanagh sex assault, Hewlett was also chief suspect in two other attempted rapes in both County Down and County Cavan — where he was questioned over the rape of another nine-year-old girl after his then wife told the Gardai that she suspected her husband was the rapist.

And while living in County Louth, he was suspected of attempting to abduct and sexually assault a young girl across the border in County Down.

Hewlett was considered by gardaí to be a “sexual predator” but was never charged with any offence.

In 2002, he went on the run in the province after detectives wanted to question him in connection with the multiple stabbing, assault and murder of 11-year-old Lesley Molseed whose body was dumped on the Yorkshire Moors in 1975. At the time of her murder, Hewlett was living in Scotland, just 10 miles from where the child disappeared.

Even though police considered him a key suspect, he was later cleared.

Hewlett, a former trawlerman and fairground worker, has a horrific catalogue of crimes against young girls:

In 1972, he was jailed for a year after raping a 12-year-old girl he had lured into his car and knocked out with paint stripper.

In 1978, he attempted to rape a 14-year-old after holding a gun to her head and was jailed for four years.

In 1988, he kidnapped another 14-year-old girl at knifepoint and indecently assaulted her. He was jailed for six years.

Now the pervert is being investigated in connection with the kidnapping of Madeleine McCann two years ago.

Hewlett has admitted being familiar with the layout of the holiday complex in Portugal where the McCann’s were staying in 2007 and is said to be “obsessed” with the investigation.

He was also living in an area, about an hour's drive away at the time. An artist’s drawing released by the Portuguese police and investigations by Gerry and Kate McCann’s private investigators have led to the sex offender being suspected.

Currently in Germany being treated for throat cancer, Hewlett has denied involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance and says he will talk to cops. Speaking outside a hospital in Aachen, Germany, he said: “I have nothing to hide. I am willing to talk with them.”

A spokesperson for the McCann family said: “The investigators are pleased to hear that Mr Hewlett has agreed to speak to them. An interview with him will be arranged and will take place in due course. We will not be going into public detail about where or when that interview will take place.

“Mr Hewlett has again denied any involvement in Madeleine's abduction, and if it helps to eliminate him from the private investigation, then he has done the right thing by indicating that he will speak to the investigators currently helping Kate and Gerry McCann.”

Did you ever meet Hewlett in Fermanagh during the 1990s?

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