Monster boasted he knew Maddie resort 'very well

25 May 2009
Daily Mail
Sam Greenhill

The wife of paedophile Raymond Hewlett declared him ' innocent' yesterday as it emerged that he was well acquainted with the resort where Madeleine McCann was staying. Marianna Schmuker said her husband had nothing to do with the little girl's disappearance, despite reports he was seen outside the apartment in Praia da Luz 'many times'.

Detectives hunting Madeleine are flying to Germany today, in an effort to question Hewlett, 64, who is recovering from throat surgery in hospital in Aachen. His family live in an apartment in the city.

Yesterday a man who knew Hewlett came forward to reveal he had talked non- stop about the Madeleine case in the weeks after she vanished in May 2007. Hewlett boasted of knowing Praia da Luz 'very well' and being familiar with the Ocean Club complex where Kate and Gerry McCann were staying with their children and friends.

Hewlett was living in the Algarve at the time, but packed up and left for Morocco shortly afterwards, according to Peter Verran, who shared a Morocco campsite with Hewlett and his family for three months. Mr Verran, 46, a former Scots Guardsman who runs an antiques business from his home in Fowey, Cornwall, said: 'We got talking at the toilet block. He brought Madeleine up straight away. He said his three-year-old 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 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.'

Mr Verran claimed Hewlett had made wild and unfounded claims about the McCanns - both doctors, from Rothley, Leicestershire, adding: 'He said it was common knowledge among locals that Praia da Luz in general and the Ocean Club in particular was a magnet for Romanian gipsies who abduct and then traffic children.

'I asked him why he'd left and come to Morocco. He told me he'd had to leave Portugal in a hurry. He said he'd packed his family up in half an hour and just driven out of the area. That was just after Maddie was taken.'

A sketch drawn by a police artist of Madeleine's possible abductor, depicting a straggly-haired man, bears some similarities to pictures of Hewlett, who is wanted for questioning by West Yorkshire police in relation to an alleged sex attack on an eight-year-old in 1975. Although he is 'a person of interest' to the McCanns' investigation, their spokesman has stressed he is only one lead among many.

Hewlett has strenuously denied having anything to do with Madeleine's disappearance. Speaking from his hospital bed last week he insisted: 'I've done nothing wrong - nothing, nothing.'

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