The man who ran off with Maddy?

The man who ran off with Maddy?
20 January 2008
The Sunday Mirror
Nick Owens and Grant Hodgson

Hunt for Madeleine: Day 262 First image of suspect

This is the face of a stalker now believed to have snatched Madeleine McCann. The image is a former FBI artist's impression based on a detailed description given by a key British witness.

It clearly reveals the features of a moustachioed man - who was carrying a little girl in pink pyjamas, believed to be four-year-old Maddie.

The original photofit issued by Portuguese police showed only a round egg-shaped head and blank face and was widely criticised as being useless.

The new picture, which was last night welcomed by the McCanns, is seen as a breakthrough.

It was carefully put together after interviews with 50-year-old holidaymaker Gail Cooper - viewed as a credible witness by key figures in the inquiry.

The healthcare worker was staying just 600 yard from the McCanns' apartments and claims to have seen the mystery stalker in the picture on three occasions.

He is thought to be aged between 38 and 45. He has sallow skin, lank dark hair, large teeth and a distinctive droopy moustache.

The suspect, who is said to have spoken in broken English, knocked on the door of Mrs Cooper's apartment claiming to be collecting for charity.

Mrs Cooper, from Newark, Notts, said: "He made my blood run cold - he gave me the creeps "My judgment is that this man was very suspicious and could have been the kidnapper."

A few days later Mrs Cooper and her husband saw the same man lurking near a group of youngsters from the Mark Warner Ocean Club on the beach. "He looked odd and out of place," said Mrs Cooper, who told police of her concerns days after Maddie vanished.

Last night the McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "We urgently need to know who this man is and where he is."

But the two 39-year-old doctors from Rothley, Leics, have been dealt a blow by police chiefs in the resort of Praia da Luz who are bringing back the disgraced cop sacked from the inquiry to return to work on the case.

Lazy Goncalo Amaral - fired from the investigation after the Sunday Mirror exposed his long, boozy lunches - has held a string of meetings with new chief detective Paulo Rebelo.

And in a secret summit the pair have agreed he would be welcomed back on to the team responsible for finding out what happened to Madeleine, who vanished 262 days ago.

Amaral, 47, was leading the team when the investigation dramatically switched to put the couple in the frame.

A source said: "This will feel like a step back for Kate and Gerry.

"Amaral and Rebelo have been meeting regularly after he was kicked off the case and they are constantly talking on the phone.

"They have swapped notes and discussed various leads at length.

At times Amaral has been Rebelo's right-hand man. A lot of things that Rebelo has done since then has been on the advice of Amaral.

"The pair have become close and Rebelo thinks it will help having Amaral back as part of his team."

The source said Amaral, who has been working in Lisbon since his removal from the team, is desperate to return to Praia da Luz, the resort where Madeleine was taken.

The source added: "He really wants to work on the case again and has insisted he will be on his best behaviour and work hard."

Amaral was the main reason Kate and Gerry were named as suspects, despite there not being a shred of evidence that the couple were involved. He was eventually fired after launching a scathing attack on them in a Portuguese newspaper.

'He made my blood run cold'


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