Is this him?

Is this him?
27 January 2008
The News of the World

Chris Tate & Neville Thurlbeck

Astonishing lookalike found in hunt for missing Maddie

A mystery loner who admits he bears an uncanny resemblance to an artist's drawing of a "creepy" suspect in the Maddie McCann kidnap hunt said last night:

"It's not me in the picture."

But last night when eyewitness Gail Coop (spelling in context-s/b "Cooper"), who helped create the sketches, saw the scruffy man's photo she gasped:

"Oh my God, that's so like him.

"He's the spitting image of the man I saw three times at the resort where Madeleine vanished.

"It's deeply shocking to see my drawing come to life. His cold, emotionless eyes sent a chill right through me."

The 50-year-old granny added:

"I thought there'd be no doubt in my mind if I saw him again."

But when we tracked down the mystery man in our photo, Joaquim Agostinho, 42, who lives a 90-minute drive from the resort, said:

"I did not kill Madeleine and I've never been to Praia da Luz.

"I cannot even drive. I accept that the drawing looks like me. All my friends have been laughing about it during the week saying how much it looks like me."

Astonishingly, despite the amazing resemblance, he revealed that police haven't bothered to question him.


He said:

"No, the police haven't spoken to me. But people have been following me and taking pictures of me today and I didn't know what it was all about.

"As I say, I don't drive a car so I couldn't possibly have done what people think.

I did own a motorbike once but I lost it couple of years ago."

Agostinho lives alone in a small flat in Altura, 87 miles east of Praia, where Madeleine was kidnapped on May 3 last year. He added:

"I have no money. I earn a little bit by delivering newspapers to people and for that they pay me with a drink of beer."

As our snap of Agostinho shows, he has a droopy moustache, long, dark hair and prominent teeth, just like the man in the sketch.

Heathcare worker Gail helped an FBI-trained illustrator make a detailed image of the suspicious man she saw in the resort where she was staying-close to the McCanns' holiday apartment and at the time Maddie disappeared.

After the drawings sped around the globe, we photographed a man described as a "weird loner" in his home town, just an hour and a half's drive from Praia da Luz before talking to him.

Yesterday we found Aghostinho touring around the bars of his home town. Unkempt and unshaven in a brown leather jacket and camouflage trousers, the six-footer drank a lunchtime coffee in one bar before moving on to a succession of others.

Later, laughing nervously and looking bewildered in front of Portuguese TV cameras, he held a press conference outside his favourite bar, the Snack Bar Aliha at 5pm.

Our investigations in the small seaside town revealed the man, in his mid fifties, is a college dropout and one-time fisherman who now drifts aimlessly around its narrow streets.

One local told the News of the World:

"He is single and lives alone somewhere in the warren of little streets near the church.


"At one time he was a very bright student, but had emotional problems and dropped out of education.

"Now he just wanders from bar to bar. Most people know him, he's not known as being any trouble."

The town is a popular tourist spot with Brits and Germans, just 20 minutes across an open border to the Spanish town of Heulva, where five-year-old girl Mari Luz Cortes vanished two weeks ago while on her way to buy crisps from a shop.

Although there is no evidence that Aghostinho has any connection with either disappearance, Gail urged Portuguese cops to question him.

Detectives have claimed pig farmer Joaquim Jose Marques, who wears his hair in dreadlocks, is the subject of her drawing and that he has already been eliminated from their search.

But last night Gail insisted:

"I know with all my heart that Marques definitely was NOT the guy I saw three times in Praia de Luz.

"That man was not the guy in my drawing. But this new man is so much like him.
"I'm amazed the man in the photo is so similar to him. I'm sure the one with the dreadlocks is NOT him. This new man must be interviewed, if only because they need to rule him out of inquiries-and he might even be a vital new witness."

Gail saw the suspect she described three times wandering around the resort. He called at the villa where her grandchildren were playing in a pool, visible from the road, claiming he was collecting for an orphanage.

She said:

"He didn't do anything, but I felt intimidated by his manner.

"I didn't give him any money and he went off on foot, but he must have had a vehicle somewhere."

Meanwhile, there was a bizarre new "sighting" of Madeleine reported last night-in Chile, South America.

An air-conditioning technician in Santiago told police he saw two adults with a young child at a museum in Vicuna five days ago.

He told officers:

"I saw a child with a pair of adults, one of whom closely resembles the police portrait of the possible kidnapper recently released by private detectives hired by the McCanns."


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