McCanns want paedophile interview

25 May 2009
The Herald
Carolyn Churchill
Madeleine's parents hope new lead can help search

A convicted paedophile who is being investigated over Madeleine McCann's disappearance said he was familiar with the layout of the Portuguese holiday complex where she went missing, it has been reported. Raymond Hewlett is alleged to have been staying around an hour's drive from the McCanns' holiday flat in Praia da Luz when she vanished on May 3, 2007. The McCanns' investigation team wants to interview the 64-year-old in the next few days in the hope he can shed some light on the little girl's disappearance.

A former soldier who met Hewlett at a campsite in Morocco in May 2007 told a Sunday news paper he admitted parking a van close to the McCann's complex on several occasions.

Peter Verran, 46, said: "He brought Madeleine up straight away. He said his three-yearold daughter looked like her.

"He was worried that because there had been reports that Madeleine may have been spirited away to Morocco, people might think his child was her. Then he suddenly said, 'Madeleine's not in Morocco'.

"I asked him what he meant and he said he knew Praia Da Luz really well. He knew the Ocean Club complex where the McCanns had been staying. He said he'd been there many times and had often parked his van close to the apartment.

"He said he knew the layout of the place, the flat and the restaurant where the McCanns and their friends had been eating when Maddie disappeared.

"He had a lot of detail about the layout. He said there was no way that the child could be taken without the parents seeing. He said they were lying."

UK-born Hewlett, a former Scots Guardsman who previously lived in Blackpool and Telford, is reportedly being treated for throat cancer in hospital in the German city Aachen.

He was jailed several times for sexually assaulting young girls and is now wanted for questioning by British detectives in connection with a separate indecent assault.

The McCanns hope that once officers from West Yorkshire Police have questioned Hewlett, their investigators will speak to him, despite reports he is seriously ill in intensive care.

Clarence Mitchell, Kate and Gerry McCann's spokesman, said:
"Mr Hewlett has denied any involvement in Madeleine's abduction. "Our investigators hope he will see sense and co-operate by giving them whatever information needed so they can eliminate him from the investigation. "It's clear the man is ill and it is clear he has information that our investigators need. It is also clear that our investigators will be speaking to him in the near future."

It is understood that before the McCanns' team can speak to Hewlett, British officers will interview him in connection with an indecent assault in 1975. Sources close to the investigation say they think both interviews will take place in "a matter of days, not weeks".

The McCanns currently have two retired detectives searching for their daughter. They hope British police will help facilitate an interview with Hewlett. But a source with knowledge of the investigation admitted Hewlett was a "private individual" who could "in theory say no" to an interview with the McCanns' detectives.

A spokeswoman for West Yorkshire Police said the force could not go in to details about why British officers wanted to speak to the convicted paedophile. The spokeswoman added: "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."

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