Portuguese police prepare to search wells at Christian B's villa

Portuguese police prepare to search wells at prime suspect Christian Brueckner’s Praia da Luz villa in hunt for Maddie McCann’s body

  • A farmhouse Brueckner rented is less than half an hour away from Maddie resort
  • The building has wells on its land and a path leading to beach Madeleine went to
  • The Judicial Police were yesterday considering searching the abandoned shafts

Portuguese police are preparing to search wells at Christian Brueckner’s Praia da Luz villa in the hunt for Madeleine McCann’s body.

A single-storey farmhouse the prime suspect rented is less than half an hour away from where the three-year-old disappeared in 2007 and has become a focus point.

The building has a number of old wells on its land and a path leading to a beach Madeleine went to.

The Judicial Police was yesterday considering searching the abandoned shafts for the child’s body, according to Portuguese newspaper Sol.

Officers earlier this month were understood to be looking to dig up land around two houses the German lived in while in Praia da Luz.

The other building sits on a hill above the resort, about 11 minutes away from the Ocean Club the McCanns were staying.

A single-storey farmhouse the prime suspect rented is less than half an hour away from where the three-year-old disappeared in 2007 and has become a focus point

A Portuguese source told the Sun: ‘Judicial Police have confirmed they have been approached by German authorities in connection with the case and they will undoubtedly be prepared to carry out fresh searches in the hope of giving the McCanns closure.

‘The obvious focus would be around the hillside former farm building and another property nearby with links to him.’

Brueckner’s rented home has a number of old wells on its land and a path leading to a beach Madeleine went to

Brueckner’s lawyers have said he will not answer questions on Madeleine until he sees proof he was involved.

Friedrich Fulscher told the Times: ‘Mr B is remaining silent on the allegation at this time on the advice of his defence counsel. This is quite common in criminal proceedings.

‘It is the duty of the state to prove that a suspect committed a crime. No accused person has to prove his innocence to the investigating authorities.’

It emerged yesterday an attack on a 10-year-old British girl in Praia da Luz two years before Madeleine disappeared has formed part of German inquiries.

Portuguese police have been asked to send on details of the 2005 assault, Hans Christian Wolters, the prosecutor heading the investigation, confirmed.

The request from German authorities follows their suspicions Christian Bruckner could be responsible for other assaults.

The previous attack on a British holidaymaker was revealed by Met Police officers in 2014 after they joined the worldwide search for the youngster.

In the attack – which took place in 2005 – it is thought the person slipped into the girl’s holiday apartment while her parents were out.

Police said there were 18 similar cases along the Algarve coast over a six-year period that could possibly be linked.

An attack on a 10-year-old British girl in Praia da Luz two years before Madeleine McCann disappeared has formed part of German inquiries into the prime suspect Christian Bruckner

In the attack – which took place in 2005 – it is thought the person slipped into the girl’s holiday apartment while her parents were out. Pictured is the apartment block Maddie went missing from in 2007

Many were classified as ‘near misses’ after parents returned home to disturb the intruder.

The attacker was said to have a deep tan and stale smell, leading investigator to believe he could be a bin man.

Many of the incidents took place early in the morning after refuse collections had been completed.

The attack on the 10-year-old was not widely publicised and only came to light after an appeal by Met Police officers.

It comes after German prosecutors admitted last week that Madeleine could still be alive.

In comments which could ignite fresh hopes for her parents Kate and Gerry, prosecutor Hans Wolters said there was no forensic evidence to say she is dead.

This was despite officials saying they were convinced she is no longer alive after news emerged earlier this month of new prime suspect Brueckner.

German prosecutors had also said they knew how the little girl was killed but had no idea where her body is.


Madeleine McCann could still be alive, according to the German prosecutor Hans Wolters (left) who previously suggested she was likely to be dead. Pictured right: Paedophile Christian Brueckner, who is suspected of kidnapping Madeleine

But speaking to the Mirror, Mr Wolters said: ‘Because there is no forensic evidence there may be a little bit of hope.

‘We don’t want to kill the hope and because there is no forensic evidence it may be possible. 

‘I am surprised the fact we say or I say Madeleine is dead is so important for the British people.’

The prosecutor added in Germany it is ‘normal’ to assume a murder has taken place in similar cases.

Brueckner is currently in prison in Kiel, northern Germany, for drugs offences and is appealing a conviction for rape from last year over a 2005 attack.

Mr Wolters also admitted his previous assertion Madeleine may have been ‘killed quickly’ was only ‘personal opinion and speculation’. 

In comments which could ignite fresh hopes for Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry that their daughter may be alive, Mr Wolters said there was no forensic evidence to say she is dead

This was despite officials repeatedly saying that they were convinced she is no longer alive after news emerged earlier this month of new prime suspect Brueckner

He said he came to the opinion ‘without facts’ based on experience of previous kidnapping cases.

Portuguese police reportedly did not interview Brueckner in the weeks after the three-year-old’s disappearance as they did not know he was a sex offender.

At the time of Madeline’s disappearance, the German was living in the Praia da Luz area.

But his criminal past in Germany was not known to detectives searching for Madeleine.

While all sex offenders in the Algarve region came under suspicion and were interviewed, 43-year-old Brueckner was not among them.

German prosectuors, who are investigating Brueckner for links to Madeleine’s 2007 disappearance, had also said they knew how the little girl was killed but had no idea where her body is. Pictured: Portuguese police at the the Praia da Luz resort from where Maddie disappeared

It comes after news emerged that Portuguese police reportedly did not interview Brueckner in the weeks after the three-year-old’s disappearance as they did not know that he was a convicted sex offender. 

Though Brueckner had two convictions for theft and disobedience since arriving in Portugal in 1998, he was not on the radar of those searching for the youngster.

His name was included in a file sent to British police in 2011 – but only because he was a foreigner who had been jailed and not because he was linked to a sex crime.

It was not until Brueckner ‘confessed’ to a friend in a bar in Germany that he knew about Madeleine’s disappearance that he became the prime suspect.

German prosecutors are convinced he killed the child but admitted they do not have enough evidence to charge him with murder.

Kate and Gerry McCann continue to hope that their daughter is alive

Portuguese media said EU countries did not routinely share information on all criminals in the 1990s.

Brueckner was convicted of molesting a six-year-old girl in a playground in his home town of Wurzburg, Bavaria, in 1994 when he was just 17.

He left Germany for the Algarve after serving part of a two-year youth sentence for the crime. But that conviction was unknown to police on the McCann case in 2007.

What do we know about Maddie murder suspect Christian Brueckner and his criminal past?

1976: Christian Brueckner is born in Würzburg under a different name, believed to be Fischer. He was adopted by the Brueckner family and took their surname.

1992: Christian Brueckner is arrested on suspicion of burglary in his hometown of Wurzburg, Bavaria.

1994: He is given a two-year sentence for ‘abusing a child’ and ‘performing sex acts in front of a child’.

1995: Brueckner arrives in Portugal as an 18-year-old backpacker and begins working in catering in the seaside resorts of Lagos and Praia da Luz. 

But friends say he became involved with a criminal syndicate trafficking drugs into the Algarve.

September 2005:  He dons a mask and breaks into an apartment where a 72-year-old American tourist.

The victim was bound, gagged, blindfolded and whipped with a metal cane before being raped for 15 minutes. She said afterwards that he had clearly enjoyed ‘torturing’ her before the rape.

April 2007: He moves out of a farmhouse and into a campervan linked to the crime. The farmhouse is cleaned and a bag of wigs is found.

May 3, 2007: Madeleine McCann is snatched at around 10pm from her bed as her parents eat tapas with friends yards away.

Brueckner’s mobile phone places him in the area that night.   He returns to his native Germany shortly after that. 

October 2011: He is sentenced to 21 months for ‘dealing narcotics’ in Niebüll, in northern Germany. 

2014: He moves to Braunschweig where he starts running a town-centre kiosk. He then goes back to Portugal with a girlfriend.

2016: He is back in Germany. He is given 15 months in prison for ‘sexual abuse of a child in the act of creating and possessing child pornographic material’. 

May 3, 2017: Brueckner is said to be in a bar with a friend when a ten-year anniversary appeal following Madeleine’s disappearance is shown on German television. He is said to have told him in a bar that he ‘knew all about’ what happened to her. He then showed his friend a video of him raping a woman.

MailOnline understands the friend went to police shortly afterwards.

June 2017: He heads back to Portugal and extradited again to Germany. The reason was a sentencing of the Braunschweig district court to 15 months’ imprisonment for the sexual abuse of a child. 

August 2018: After his release from prison he lives on the streets. But he was jailed again for drug offences. 

First Prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters addresses the media during a press conference on the Madeleine McCann case at the public prosecutor’s office in Braunschweig

September 2018: Brueckner is arrested in Italy and extradited to Germany and put on trial for raping an American in 2007 after a DNA match was found at the crime scene.

July 2019: He is jailed for 21 months for drug dealing in the northern German resort of Sylt.

August 2019: Brueckner  is charged with the rape of the American tourist in Praia da Luz in 2005.

December 2019: He is convicted of rape of extortion of the tourist based on DNA evidence. He is given a seven year sentence, but this has not been imposed pending an appeal. 

June 3, 2020: Scotland Yard and the German police reveal that that they have identified a suspect in the Maddie McCann case

June 4, 2020: Prosecutors in Braunschweig, where he lives, say they believe Madeleine McCann has been murdered, says spokesman Hans Christian Wolters. He is named in the German press as the prime suspect.

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