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I saw 'Maddie' too

Original Source:  SUN  THURSDAY 07 AUGUST 2008
in Praia da Luz Published: 07 Aug 2008

I saw her ... Hannie Wiechmann

Pensioner Hannie Wiechmann said she saw a little girl with an anxious woman near her home in the Dutch city days after Maddie vanished from her family's holiday apartment in Portugal.

Hannie, 71, believed a crude attempt had been made to disguise the child by cutting and dyeing her hair, giving her a badly-trimmed fringe and some red locks. But she said: 'Those eyes . . . I knew it was her.'


Hannie spoke 24 hours after released police files revealed Amsterdam party shop worker Anna Stam spoke to an English girl who called herself Maddie.


She was with an odd couple and told 41-year-old Anna: 'They took me from my holiday.' She said of the woman with her: 'She is not my mummy.'

Hannie's sighting was in the centre of the canal city near Weteringsplantsoen at around the same time in May last year.


She said: 'I saw a woman aged 30 to 35 continuously walking up and down the waterside. You could see by the way she handled the kid that she was not used to children. The woman had brown curly hair. She spoke English with the girl.


'Maddie wore a pink woollen coat that reached her calfs. I know because she reminded me of my own daughter when she was that young. Maddie was delighted by my dog diving into the water.'


The lost girl was in pink pyjamas when she was snatched in Praia da Luz just before her fourth birthday. And pink was her favourite colour.

Gerry and Kate ... will follow up new clues

Hannie said she called cops, who arrived to challenge the woman. The pensioner said: 'She told the police she was a tourist and was babysitting the little girl. That was it. They didn't ask for any name ' not mine nor hers.'


Hannie claimed she saw the girl again the following week. She said: 'She came to me to pat the dog. Then I let her go. It was stupid of me but I thought that since the police were so convinced it wasn't Maddie, it didn't matter.'


Dutch police refused to comment on Hannie's story last night, referring all queries to Portuguese cops. But it WILL be followed up by private detectives acting for Maddie's parents Kate and Gerry.


They will also talk to Anna, who yesterday revealed a string of further clues that could boost the hunt for the child.


The Sun took Anna back to the shop where she saw the Maddie lookalike.


She told how the child was wearing a distinctive PINK top bearing the English wording 'Little Beavers'.

Anna said the child was never called by name by the couple with her.


They said they had a small circus in France and addressed her as La Petite ' French for Little One.


The assistant added she had green eyes and an expressionless face identical to a picture of Maddie she saw after the girl's disappearance became news in Holland.


Anna reported her sighting to Dutch police, who passed the information to Portuguese detectives. But she never heard from them ' and they never informed the McCanns of her story.


Anna said: 'The Portuguese certainly could have done more, which I think everyone believes. Now I just want to do anything I can to help. I want to speak to British detectives and to Kate and Gerry McCann.'


More details from the released Portuguese police files emerged yesterday.

First sighting ... Anna Stam in shop where she saw girl

They revealed Kate and Gerry slept in separate beds after having a row the night before Maddie vanished.


A file written by three inspectors said of Kate: 'When asked if she ever slept in Madeleine's room, she said that happened on Wednesday because she had fallen out with Gerry after he ignored her after dinner when they went to the tapas bar.


'She decided to retaliate by sleeping in another room.'

The files also show a table plan drawn by Kate, showing she was not sitting next to Gerry at dinner on the night Maddie went missing. She was between pals Rachel Oldfield and Fiona Payne, while Gerry was on the other side of Fiona.


Another document revealed expat Robert Murat was made a suspect because he showed an 'unusual curiosity' in the case while acting as an interpreter.


Property developer Mr Murat, 34 ' cleared last month of any involvement ' was also said to have had 'enormous knowledge' of the McCanns' holiday complex and their routine. The report added: 'He also tried constantly to influence the direction of the investigation.'


  • THE McCanns are planning a Crimewatch reconstruction on TV to revitalise the search for Maddie. They are in talks with the BBC to see if a re-enactment can be carried out including the swathes of new information emerging from the released files.

    Additional reporting: ANTONELLA LAZZERI


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