Paul Byrne, Martin Fricker — Mirror.co.uk March 26, 2017
Someone is protecting Madeleine McCann ’s kidnappers, says a detective who hunted for her for three years.
As Kate McCann faced her 10th Mother’s Day without Maddie, retired Det Insp Dave Edgar broke his silence for the first time to open his files.
Revealing findings, that a child-sex gang most likely took the three-year-old, he said: “Someone knows what happened and it’s time they came forward.”
Mr Edgar believes an abductor has secretly confessed to the crime and, speaking for the first time since his three-year private investigation into the 2007 disappearance, he said one of those involved will have opened-up to a friend or relative.
Calling for an end to the agony of Maddie’s parents Kate and Gerry, he pleaded: “If anyone confided in you, now is the time to come forward.”
One of the top experts on the case, he also believes:
- There is no evidence to suggest Kate and Gerry were involved.
- It was a well planned abduction.
- There was no evidence against two prime suspects of abducting her from Praia Da Luz in May.
- The motive for taking three-year-old Madeleine was sexual.
- There is still hope she is alive.
When the Metropolitan Police took over the search in 2011, Mr Edgar handed his files to the force.
But he has kept in contact with the probe and believes a new appeal could finally solve it.
He said: “Someone knows, it must be on someone’s conscience, please come forward.”
After Madeleine vanished from the McCanns’ Warner Ocean Club holiday flat, while her parents were dining with friends, Portuguese police named Kate and Gerry as “arguidos” or suspects.
But Mr Edgar dismisses that, flying in the face of last week’s Lisbon court decision to uphold the right of Portuguese detective Goncalo Amaral to publish his book alleging Madeleine had died and the McCanns covered it up.
“I was looking at everything and that would include them,” he said.
“If I found any evidence against Kate and Gerry I would have given it to the police immediately. Kate and Gerry would expect no less. But I found no shred of evidence.
“We obviously look at all factors – motive, preparation, opportunity – and there was absolutely nothing.”
During his probe, paid for by the Find Madeleine Fund, Mr Edgar’s small team of investigators examined a number of potential suspects, including two of the most high profile names on the list, Raymond Hewlett and Euclides Monteiro.
Convicted UK paedophile Hewlett was living near the resort in 2007. He died, aged 64, of cancer in Germany in 2010.
Mr Edgar, 60, said: “He was high on the person of interest list as far as the press were concerned but he was someone who we just wanted to speak to and look at. In terms of fitting the profile, Hewlett would probably come as close as you would get to a main suspect.
But he added: “There was no hard and fast evidence because, if there had been, he would have been arrested.”
Monteiro, 40, a drug addict and ex Ocean Club worker, who died in a tractor accident in 2009, was also ruled out.
“Yes, he was a suspect but on the files that I saw there was no evidence that he was involved to the level that the Portuguese police thought” said Mr Edgar.
“My understanding is that they were convinced he had done it. They decided it was him. On what basis?”
So what did happen to Madeleine? Mr Edgar had a 30-year career with the RUC and Cheshire police and worked on high profile murder cases, including Shafilea Ahmed and Garry Newlove.
He has heard dozens of theories about Madeleine – that she had wandered off, and been run over, become the victim of a random burglar or taken by someone wanting to raise a child for themselves.
He believes it was a planned operation by a lone kidnapper or a gang.
He said: “There was a very narrow window of opportunity for them to get away with Madeleine. So it does point to it being planned and some level of surveillance, perhaps of the apartment.”
He added: “If the motive was gang-related child prostitution, there might have been more than one involved.”
And that’s where a breakthrough may come. He said: “They can’t keep it to themselves and research has shown they always confide in someone else.
“I think that someone else apart from the perpetrator knows and that is one of the best hopes of getting to the truth, that someone comes forward and says what they know.”
He says a cash reward, like those offered in the past, is unlikely to yield results, but an appeal to the heart might. Instead, he wants a police-backed European campaign.
“I’m talking about TV, posters, letters, text messages, new technology. We’re talking Europe. Get the message out there.”
He fears whoever was responsible will have struck again. He said: “It’s the type of crime they cannot help themselves, certainly if it was sexually motivated.”
Like millions of others, the retired detective clings to the hope that Madeleine is still alive, possibly being held prisoner and potentially still in Portugal.
There have been a number of cases where victims have emerged after being held in captivity for years.
“Until such time that a body is found it is a live investigation and there is always hope,” he said.