A huge motor home which Madeleine McCann case suspect Christian Brueckner allegedly bragged was perfect to hide drugs and children has taken centre stage in the police investigation.
He is known to have owned a Tiffin Allegro matching the description of the 30-foot long Winnebago-style vehicle at the time of three-year-old Maddie’s disappearance in 2007.
He will have driven it through Spain as he moved between Germany and Portugal, and police would like to hear of any sightings of the vehicle at the time.
Officers investigating the disappearance of five-year-old Inga Gehricke in Germany in 2015 found the motor home as they searched land bought at auction by Brueckner in 2000. He was under suspicion after she vanished on a family outing. Known as ‘the German Maddie’ she has never been found. Brueckner was charged with child porn offences, but was not over the Gehricke case.
Spiegel TV reported that a search of the site uncovered many pieces of children’s clothing including small swimming costumes.
They also found six memory sticks with more than 8,000 images and videos of children being abused.
There have been several reports of sightings of the vehicle on the Algarve around the time Maddie disappeared in 2007.
Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, a former ambulance driver called Dieter said: “In my van, I can take 50kg of grass – nobody can see it … I can transport children, kids, in this space. Drugs and children, you can transport them in this van – it’s a safe space in the van. Nobody can find them. Nobody can catch you’.”
It is not known where the motor home is now.
Meanwhile, the Olive Press revealed last week how his other VW Westfalia van was spotted by a gardener at the Costa Blanca village of Alcossebre.
The handyman, who worked at the Tunel restaurant, just outside the village, told police he was convinced he had seen Maddie getting out of the vehicle with a German man three weeks after she went missing in May 2007.
We have also managed to trace Brueckner’s movements to a new location, 45 minutes inland from Praia da Luz, where Maddie went missing.
Working alongside the Mail on Sunday, the Olive Press located a house ijn the village of Foral, where the paedophile had spent many months on and off for a few years, prior to her alleged abduction.
Meanwhile, German police have this week asked Portuguese investigators for permission to re-test a saliva sample found in the apartment from which Maddie went missing.
Portuguese scientists were unable to find a DNA match from the sample, found on her bed, and now German authorities want to run their own tests to see if they can link Brueckner to the scene.
However, it is reportedly unlikely that the Portuguese police will release the sample – said to be little more than a trace – due to legal restrictions and after criticism from Hans Christian Wolters, the German prosecutor in Braunschweig.
They previously refused to release a series of hairs found in the apartment to detectives at Scotland Yard.
Wolters, who has been leading the probe, announced last week that the Portuguese police still believe the family of Maddie are involved.
The Olive Press has long campaigned on behalf of widening the search to known paedophiles in the area.
Incredibly, Brueckner was left off a list of the top 600 suspects handed to the UK police, despite his background.
The Olive Press’s editor Jon Clarke was the first journalist on the scene of the crime, the morning after she had gone missing.
He spoke to the ‘clearly distraught’ parents, promising to help as best he could, and recently featured in the Netflix documentary on the mystery.
He said, this week: “There is no doubt there was a fixation on pinning this crime to the parents and this led to many other suspects, such as Brueckner being ignored, perhaps to commit many other crimes since.”
He added: “Having visited Praia da Luz twice in the last fortnight to investigate more, I am convinced that this man is the real culprit.
“Living in the area for so long and with his background and fetish for children, he would know where to find a girl like Maddie and how easy it would be to siphon her away on a dark lane to his nearby house or many of the other nearby empty homes, before maybe taking her on elsewhere.
“I really hope the Portuguese police start to engage with this enquiry wholeheartedly and start to accept that the parents are not guilty,” he added.
If you saw either the Tiffin Allegro motor home or VW Westfalia camper van contact firstname.lastname@example.org.