Madeleine police hunt man seen carrying a small child to the beach

7 August 2007 
The Times
David Brown

* Body is feared to have been thrown into sea

* Search finds nothing at official suspect's home

A man seen taking a small girl towards the beach at Praia da Luz on the night that Madeleine McCann disappeared from her holiday apartment is being sought by detectives in the Algarve.
An oceanographer has also been asked to determine what would have happened to a body thrown into the sea on the night that Madeleine was taken from her bed 95 days ago.

Police failed to find any evidence linking her disappearance to the only official suspect in the case, Robert Murat, after spending the weekend searching his home and garden. The search was abandoned after two British police dogs and sophisticated scanning equipment failed to find any trace of the missing girl. One of the dogs is trained to find bodies and the other traces of blood.

Detectives are now concentrating their efforts on another suspect who was seen carrying a small child past the church in the centre of Praia da Luz.

Martin Smith, from the Irish Republic, told detectives that the man matched the description of a suspect seen close to the holiday apartment where Madeleine had been sleeping with her younger brother and sister.

Mr Smith and his wife and children were leaving the Kelly Bar about 20 minutes after Madeleine is believed to have been taken from her bedroom 500 metres away.

He said that the man was not Mr Murat, whom he had known for a number of years. "If it had been him carrying the child, I guarantee I would have recognised him," Mr Smith said.

The description, a white man 5ft 7in (170cm) to 5ft 9in (175cm), matches that of a suspect seen walking away from the McCanns' apartment about 9.30pm by Jane Tanner, who was on holiday with the family.

A source close to the Portuguese police investigation said: "Murat is not the only person in the frame. Another man has been under surveillance for a period of time but has no idea that he is involved."

The man seen by Mr Smith was walking close to the flat of Sergei Malinka, 22, a Russian web designer who had worked for Mr Murat. Mr Malinka has previously been questioned by the Policia Judiciaria about Madeleine's disappearance but has strenuously denied any involvement.

Tuck Price, a spokesman for the Murat family, said yesterday that the police had not discovered anything of interest while searching the villa. "They haven't officially said anything -they didn't say anything to us -but we were there and I think we would have seen and known if they had found anything," he said. "Robert was there pretty much the whole time."

Mr Murat, 33, has insisted that he was at home, about 100 metres from the McCanns' apartment, with his mother on the night that Madeleine went missing. Mrs Murat, 71, said: "He's going to be cleared -he is innocent."

The British detectives sent to review the Portuguese investigation into Madeleine's disappearance appear to be concentrating on the presumption that she died about the time that she was reported missing on May 3.

Detectives have asked Joao Alveirinho Dias, of the University of the Algarve, to analyse details of currents and tides in the ocean off Praia da Luz in an attempt to discover where a body is likely to have washed up. Portuguese newspapers have reported that possible traces of Madeleine's blood have been detected in her bedroom and that police believe she may have been killed by accident in the apartment.

Return to top of page Copyright © 2010 | Flash News Converted into Blogger Template by HackTutors