An Express View of British & Portuguese Police Fallout
Scotland Yard and Portuguese police fall out over identity of key Madeleine McCann suspect
SCOTLAND Yard’s hunt for Madeleine McCann is in jeopardy because of foot-dragging by Portuguese police who think they know who was responsible for her disappearance.
High-ranking officers in Portugal are convinced African thief Euclides Monteiro took Madeleine and was responsible for sex attacks on five other British girls before being killed in a tractor accident in 2009.
However, the frustrated Yard team believes there is insufficient evidence. One attack believed to be significant to the Madeleine inquiry took place the year after Monteiro died. The clash is threatening to stall the Yard probe at a crucial time, with detectives here having made 287 requests for leads to be pursued in Portugal.
The Sunday Express understands they have asked for forensic work at holiday apartments where sex attacks took place, in their hunt for a breakthrough clue, a fingerprint or hair.
Yet delays by Portuguese officials are slowing progress and increasing tensions between the two forces.
Last week Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt admitted he was “frustrated” with the pace of the investigation.
The Yard is interested in Monteiro but pointedly declined to name him during a briefing for journalists last week when it made a fresh appeal for help from the public. The ex-junkie was sacked as a waiter at an Ocean Club restaurant in Praia da Luz for stealing a year before Madeleine vanished from a holiday apartment there in May 2007.
Portuguese police have been interested in the volume of calls on his mobile phone on the night she vanished, which indicate he was near the scene.
Yard officers want to know if he acted alone as a thief or was part of a wider, more sinister paedophile ring which could still pose a risk to British children holidaying on the Algarve.
They also want to investigate possible links with burglars operating in Praia da Luz whom he was known to associate with.
Last week the Yard revealed it was focusing on 12 “potentially” linked break-ins between 2004 and 2010 on the western Algarve. In four cases between 2004 and 2006 a man sexually assaulted five white girls aged between seven and 10 in their beds. Two were assaulted in one villa.
The man remained calm throughout all the attacks and even when disturbed by waking parents or children he made no attempt to run away, leaving villas slowly, apparently unconcerned about being caught.
Two break-ins occurred in Praia da Luz in 2006 and 2010 but children were not assaulted in those incidents. As Monteiro died in 2009 he could not have been responsible for the last break-in in 2010.
In most of the 12 cases nothing was taken and there was no sign of forced entry, suggesting access to holiday apartment keys. All were within about an hour’s drive.
The Yard said: “Witnesses describe the man as having dark, as in tanned, skin with short dark unkempt hair. He spoke English with a foreign accent. His voice was described as slow or possibly slurred.”
Witnesses describe the man as having dark, as in tanned, skin with short dark unkempt hair. He spoke English with a foreign accent. His voice was described as slow or possibly slurred
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said: “We need to establish the identity of this man. These offences are very serious and no one has been charged. We also need to eliminate this man from our inquiries and ascertain whether these offences are linked to Madeleine’s disappearance.”
Portuguese police later leaked that the person being sought was identified by their officers as Monteiro, although he was never formally charged with any of the offences because of insufficient evidence.
However, the information offered by the Yard suggests it is far from convinced by the evidence uncovered by Portuguese detectives. They have Monteiro’s DNA as the Cape Verde immigrant had served time for theft.
British officers have pointed out to the Portuguese that a key sighting of a man holding a child in Luz at 10pm, shortly after Madeleine was taken, was not of a black man. Irishman Martin Smith and family saw him.
Former Portuguese inspector Goncalo Amaral was about to fly Mr Smith to Portugal when he was removed from the case. DCI Redwood said last week: “We still need to establish the identity of a man seen by three witnesses, carrying a child fitting Madeleine’s description towards the beach or town at about 22.00 on the night Madeleine disappeared.
“The witnesses have described the man in the e-fits as being white, aged in his 30s, with short brown hair of medium build, medium height and clean shaven.”
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