I saw lurker

31 October 2007
The Sun
Clodagh Hartley in Praia Da Luz and Antonella Lazzeri

Nanny tells of man in bushes outside Maddie flat

A nanny has told investigators she saw a man lurking in bushes outside the holiday apartment where Madeleine McCann disappeared.

The woman was babysitting a boy of six in apartment 5A of the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz MONTHS before the McCanns stayed there.

But her description appears to MATCH that given by a friend holidaying with the family who is convinced she saw sleeping Madeleine being carried away.

The childminder also said she spotted the man "hiding in shadows" on a Thursday - the same day Madeleine, four, vanished.

Last night a spokesman for Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry, both 39, said they were "grateful" for the testimony. Clarence Mitchell added: "This evidence backs up what we have always said, that Maddie was taken from her bed by an abductor."

The nanny -identified only as M.H. -reported the chilling incident to police in England shortly after the hunt for Madeleine began, but did not speak to cops in Portugal. Last week she repeated her story on a hotline set up in Spain by investigators hired by the McCanns.

Citing sources close to the couple, Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo said the nanny was asked to look after the boy while his parents played tennis.

It reported: "During the night she received a call from her bosses warning her there was a problem with rats in the apartments."

She briefly checked outside and thought she saw one -but it was a man's shoe.

It went on: "She shouted and the man ran from the shadows."

The nanny said the dark-haired man, aged 25 to 35, "looked like a local" and wore light-coloured trousers and a blue check shirt.

El Mundo said she reported the sighting to her boss -but he "seemed more worried about the rats".

Meanwhile, a furious insider at Portugal's forensic labs said ALL their evidence was contaminated -and admitted: "It's a total mess. It is unbelievable that in Portugal a technical team which preserves evidence has not yet been created."

A friend of the McCanns added: "On the night Madeleine was taken there were loads of people in and out. Once it was obvious she had not wandered off it should have been immediately sealed.

"Then there were police officers smoking and dropping ash and butt ends, while vehicles were driven by other police officers to test sites instead of going on a low-loader.

"It is a disgrace, and Kate and Gerry are very upset. They feel the chances of catching Madeleine's abductor may well have been affected by the slapdash way the forensics and police have behaved."

Yesterday Kate looked tired and tense as she drove from the family home in Rothley, Leics.

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