EXCLUSIVE by James Bryce
A BRITISH expat based in Spain is ‘100 per cent sure’ she saw missing Madeleine McCann in a supermarket on the Costa del Sol.
The former M&S sales assistant, 63, is adamant the young girl is the missing Briton after seeing her with a man she describes as looking like ‘a gypsy’.
Yvonne Tunnicliffe, who has lived in Spain for six years, made the sighting while shopping at a Mercadona store in Alhaurin el Grande in 2009.
The grandmother has only now come forward, after reading about increasing suggestions that the toddler might have been snatched by a gypsy gang while on holiday in Portugal in 2007.
“My whole body shook when I saw her, she looked just like her daddy (Gerry),” Tunnicliffe told the Olive Press newspaper.
“I’m certain it was Madeleine, I wouldn’t even say I’m 99 per cent sure, I’m 100 per cent sure.
“She had mousy blonde hair in scruffy plaits, very fair skin and looked about seven or eight, which is how old she would have been now.”
Tunnicliffe contacted police a week after the sighting and was visited by detectives who immediately took her back to the store to view CCTV footage.
But police were informed by the store’s manager that footage was only stored for one week and had subsequently been destroyed.
So convinced was she of the sighting, she was unable to sleep for much of the week and finally drew a number of sketches of both the girl and man for police.
Fighting back tears, she told the Olive Press: “It really upset me and I couldn’t stop thinking about it and why I hadn’t gone to the police straight away.
“It was Christmas and we had friends over. I kept getting sidetracked.”
On the sighting she said: “The girl’s demeanour bothered me. I don’t think she belonged to the man because she didn’t look anything like him.
“He had dark, curly hair down to his neck and was wearing a distinctive bullring-type earring.
“He sounded Portuguese and was certainly not from Alhaurin.”
Tunnicliffe claims the girl – who was wearing a pale blue top and trousers – did not look Spanish.
“It disturbed me for a long time and still upsets me thinking about it now,” an emotional Tunnicliffe added.
When contacted by the Olive Press, a Scotland Yard spokesman confirmed: “It’s an open investigation and any information received will be reviewed and considered by detectives.”
The McCanns’ spokesman was unavailable for comment as we went to press.