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Maddie lookalike quizzed by cops

Original Source: SUN: SATURDAY 04 SEPTEMBER 2009
Published: 04 Sep 2009

Mistaken ... Jon Hazelhurst with his stepdaughter Lauren

STUNNED Jon Hazlehurst and his eight-year-old stepdaughter were quizzed by cops after she was mistaken for Madeleine McCann.

A member of the public raised the alarm when she spotted them at a petrol station and thought blonde Lauren was missing Maddie.

She jotted down Jon's car details and dialled 999 and officers went straight to his home nearby in Kingsbridge, Devon.

There they found his stepson Jack, 15, who gave them Jon's mobile number and police told him to immediately report to the local nick.

Jon, a fire protection officer, said: "They said someone had seen me with a girl who looked like Madeleine McCann.

"I couldn't believe what I was hearing - I thought it was a prank before I realised that they were quite serious.

"But they told me to come to the police station with Lauren, so I went and picked her up from her friend's house and we drove there straight away."

Jon, who is married to Lauren's mum Claire, 40, showed officers his business card and driving licence and Lauren's birth certificate and the pair were then allowed home.

He admitted that Lauren does look like Maddie, who disappeared on holiday in the Algarve in May 2007.

He said: "A lot of people have said she does look like her, I can see it, she does have a similar frame and hair, but her eyes are different.

"But I was just really surprised throughout the whole thing - I felt a bit uncomfortable because I hadn't done anything wrong."

He added: "The police were very polite and I understood that they had to follow up the lead, even if it didn't come to anything.

"There's always a chance a tip-off like that might lead them to Madeleine."

Jon suspects the "sighting" could have been triggered by the story of Jaycee Lee Dugard, the American girl found last week after vanishing 18 years ago.

He said: "In a way it proves people are still vigilant about Maddie - people should still be on the lookout for her.

"People do turn up years later. It happened last week when Jaycee Lee Dugard turned-up in the States. It can happen.

"As a parent it doesn't bear thinking about one of your children going missing, I just can't imagine how awful that out of control, powerless feeling must be.

"This is reassuring in a way that people are still looking for Madeleine."

Sgt Paul O'Neill, of Kingsbridge Police, said Lauren did bear a resemblance to Madeleine McCann except for a different eye colour.

He added: "I thank the lady for bringing it to our attention. She did well to spot the little girl and inform us. Fortunately, the parent was more than willing to help."

Maddie went missing a few days before her fourth birthday and would be six-years-old now.


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