Maddie hunt for woman

Maddie hunt for woman
7 August 2009
The Daily Express
Nick Fagge

Are you here to deliver my new daughter?

Detectives searching for Madeleine McCann are hunting for an Australian woman who asked a British tourist if he was about to deliver her "new daughter".

The woman, described as a glamorous Victoria Beckham lookalike, spoke to the businessman in Spain just 72 hours after Madeleine dis appeared from her family holiday in Portugal.

Investigators yesterday issued an urgent appeal for information about the well-dressed woman, who was seen acting in an "agitated" manner at the waterfront in Barcelona on May 7, 2007. She was pacing up and down outside a popular restaurant at the city's Olympic Marina at 2am. When approached, she asked the British man in an Australian accent: "Are you here to deliver my new daughter?"

The stunned tourist, who was chaperoning his brother on a stag party, did not reply and the woman repeated the question two more times. A second member of the British party spoke to the woman before she left and went to another restaurant on the marina. He confi med she was Australian.

It is believed the woman mistook the witness for a man she had arranged to meet.

Private detectives working for Kate and Gerry McCann believe the woman, described as white, aged between 30 and 35, 5ft 2ins tall, of slim build and expensively dressed, is a "signifi cant" lead in their hunt for Madeleine, who was snatched from the family's apartment in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz.

Investigators believe Madeleine may have been smuggled on to a y acht. It is possible the girl, who would now be six, could have been taken on the orders of a childless couple desperate to have a family.

The breakthrough came six weeks ago after the new witness, a 41-yearold married man with no children, contacted the Find Madeleine investigation team.

Lead investigator Dave Edgar, a former detective inspector, said: "We are satisfi ed that he is a very credible witness and the account he's given is clear and concise." He added that the man, who asked not to be identifi ed, did not come forward earlier for "personal reasons".

The private detectives spent two days in Barcelona investigating the new lead but found all CCTV footage had been wiped a long time ago and most of the bar staff had moved on. But Mr Edgar said the witness had described the e-fi t of the woman produced by a British police artist as 80 per cent accurate.

A statement read by the McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "A witness has come forward to give the investigators currently searching for Madeleine McCann new information about a suspicious incident that took place in Barcelona in the early hours of May 7, 2007 - just over 72 hours after Madeleine was abducted whilst on holiday in Praia da Luz in

Mr Mitchell told how the witness had been visiting a number of bars and restaurants in the marina area when he became aware of a welldressed woman walking outside the El Rey De La Gamba restaurant.

"The witness got up and walked towards the woman and had a short conversation with her. The conversation was potentially significant to the investigation."

Mr Mitchell said neither he nor the private investigators would reveal details of the conversation "for strict operational reasons".

But a source close to the investigation in Portugal told the Daily Express: "The new witness is a senior bank manager. He was in Barcelona for his brother's stag do.

"He was not drinking because he was keeping an eye on his brother.

He saw a woman standing by the waterfront of the marina looking out to sea. She looked anxious. She was expecting to meet someone at the marina.

"The man approached her and she said to him, 'Are you here to deliver my new daughter?'

"She asked this question three times before she went to another restaurant along the marina."

The investigators now hope that a public appeal will flush out the woman, who is believed to have returned to her native Australia.

The Portuguese source said: "Investigators want people who have contacted them in Australia to get back in touch with them again."

Less than 1,000 miles as the crow flies, the journey from the Algarve to Barcelona is easily achieved in less than 36 hours by sea in a high-powered cruiser or less than 14 hours by car. Mr Edgar said: "Madeleine most defi nitely could have got from the area to Barcelona by yacht."

The Portuguese source said: "Boats have been recorded leaving Albufeira and arriving in Barcelona one day later."

Kate and Gerry McCann are aware of the new lead, Mr Mitchell said.

Details of the new witness have been passed to Portuguese authorities. But the Portuguese police investigation into Madeleine's disappearance was closed a year ago.

Anyone who knows the woman is asked to call the McCanns' investigators on 0044845 8384699 or email them at investigation@find

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