16 May, 2024 @ 12:01
5 mins read

Irish woman ‘thought she would die’ during ‘rape attack’ by Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner – as she claims Portugal police joked around and called her a ‘slut’ after she reported it

Hazel Behan Christian Brueckner Rte

A FORMER expat holiday rep has told a court she feared she would die while being raped by Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner in Portugal.

Facing her alleged attacker in court for the first time, Hazel Behan said she was sleeping when she was awoken by the convicted paedophile holding a knife and calling out her name in the early hours of June 16, 2004.

Having gone to bed fully clothed and after a row with her boyfriend, Behan, from Dublin, said she awoke to the German criminal dressed in black.

“I was awoken by someone calling my name and, for a short time, thought it was my boyfriend coming to apologise,” she told Braunschweig court in Germany this week, where Brueckner, 47, is being tried over five sex crimes, including three rapes.

READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE: ‘I threw away 80 sex tapes of Christian Brueckner’

Hazel
Hazel Behan is facing her alleged rapist Christian Brueckner in court this week (Copyright Olive Press Spain)

Upon suddenly realising her boyfriend, Jason, did not have a key, the panic set in.

“The fear I felt was like a bloodrush. I’d never felt anything like it before. I turned to see who was calling me and saw a man dressed in black from head to toe with a mask on and with a knife,” she continued as Brueckner looked on impassively.

“He said: ‘Don’t scream or I’ll kill you.”

During an ordeal that lasted hours in Portimao, on the Algarve, Behan said she was tied up and whipped, with the attack said to have been filmed by Brueckner.

Speaking alongside a translator, frequently in tears, Behan, 40, told the court she was repeatedly whipped and dragged around the apartment by her hair – and that at one point she thought she was going to die. 

The brave mother-of-three, wearing a beige jacket and black trousers, told the court she was ‘100%’ certain her rapist was German and was about six foot tall with ‘fair hair’ and ‘piercing blue eyes’.

She also told the court that he had a noticeable mark on his right thigh. 

Christian Brueckner during his ongoing trial in Germany (COPYRIGHT OLIVE PRESS SPAIN)

It led to a dramatic moment when she was handed a piece of paper and a pencil and asked by the judge to draw it.

After pencilling a thin horizontal cross she was summoned to the judge’s table to explain it, as nearly a dozen lawyers gathered around.

When asked quizzically why a photo of an earlier drawing of the mark looked ‘much larger’, she insisted: “I guess I’m not a very good drawer, but it was definitely on the right hand side.”

She then added: “It was a dark mark and it was very visible to me, that’s for sure.”

She also explained that during her first interview with Portuguese police in 2004, she had told them it could be a ‘snag in his tights or a tattoo’.

She denied she had ever told them it was on his buttock. “That is not a word I would ever use,” she insisted.

What she was also certain of was that her attacker used ‘various’ condoms and raped her at least three times in different parts of her apartment.

She said he was wearing dark tights and took his shoes off on her balcony before he broke in.

“The condoms had a fruity smell and I saw the purple packet,” she recalled.

Hazel Behan Rte
Hazel Behan during a previous interview with Irish broadcaster RTE

Behan, who was 20 at the time, was working with the children of holidaymakers at the Praia da Rocha resort.

On the night in question, she had been out for a drink at a bar near her apartment, and came home after having an argument with her boyfriend.

It was only a short walk but she believes she was followed.

She also believed she might have been watched in previous weeks from a ‘wasteland’ opposite her home and she believed someone might have already broken in.

After being woken up, she was firstly stripped of her trousers and then tied to a breakfast bar, where her attacker cut off her top and underwear with a pair of scissors.

She told the court she was tied up so tightly with her own belt and a blue rope that she suffered physical problems for years afterwards.

She added she had tried everything to put off her attacker including telling him she was ‘pregnant’ and he should ‘think again’, but that he said it ‘didn’t matter’.

Later, when she started bleeding with blood clearly running down her leg, he remarked to her callously: “You’re not pregnant anymore.”

She went on to describe in graphic detail how she had been raped on at least three occasions and it was with ‘the force of a train’.

She told the court: “I have had three children and I have never felt pain like it. I felt like it lasted forever and it was clear this person didn’t like me. He was aroused by power and control.”

At one point she was shaking so much, he asked her: “You’re scared aren’t you?” to which she replied ‘no’.

But when he got out a long leather whip with tassels out of his black backpack and started hitting her he said: “You’re definitely scared now.” to which she replied: ‘yes’.

The court was told that after filming the attack for over an hour – in both a fixed position and then holding the camera in his hand – the attacker then dragged her by her hair to the bathroom and made her lean over a wooden bench.

“I thought he’s going to kill me. He made sure my head was down and he took a sheet off my bed and put it over my head. I thought: ‘What is he going to do? Is he going to chop my head off?”

But instead he started packing his bag and she saw he had opened the balcony door.

“He tiptoed backwards to his shoes which were at the door and he slipped back into them and left.”

She went on to describe the appalling treatment she had received at the hands of the Portuguese police.

In particular, they had made her go back to the apartment on the night and even stand naked in front of a series of officers as they took explicit photos.

“They made me stand there in a kind of star jump position in the doorway for ages as they took them,” she recalled.

Then a few days later when they went back to the apartment with some officers of the Portimao Policia Judiciaria (PJ) – the same detectives who mishandled the McCann case – they found evidence uncollected.

“There was still blood on the bed. My mum tried to cover it up by moving the bedding and as she moved it one of my (false) nails fell off the bed.”

In addition they hadn’t asked for the hotel’s CCTV, and when she requested it it was refused.

“I felt really angry about that. I knew I could have recognised his face or his back,” she said.

But worse was to come when she voluntarily went to give a statement to the PJ in Portimao.

Her mother wasn’t allowed in and she was questioned by three male officers who ‘laughed and joked’ as she sat in a chair.

She told the court: “When we got in they had their feet on the table chatting with each other. I remember thinking they seemed totally unaware of what had happened. 

“Then they threw a bag on the table and asked if they were my clothes and when I got out my mother was really shocked I was out so quickly.”

She added that over the following two years two plain clothes officers had effectively ‘followed her around’ the resort, chiding and abusing her.

Behan claimed: “I asked them why they are following me and they said we just want to see if you are a slut.”

Behan says she first recognised her attacker when Brueckner was named as the prime suspect in the missing Maddie case in June 2020.

In particular she recognised him from photos on Google and from his ‘piercing blue eyes’.

Recalling how the attack changed her for good, she said: “I was so carefree before. I was living the dream there (in Portugal). But from that night everything changed.”

Jon Clarke (Publisher & Editor)

Jon Clarke is a Londoner who worked at the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday as an investigative journalist before moving permanently to Spain in 2003 where he helped set up the Olive Press. He is the author of three books; Costa Killer, Dining Secrets of Andalucia and My Search for Madeleine.

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