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'British car' clue to missing Madeleine

Original Source: TELEGRAPH: 11 MAY 2007
By Richard Edwards and Fiona Govan in Praia da Luz
Detectives investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann are hunting three prime suspects seen in a car with British numberplates.

Officers have obtained CCTV images of a blonde woman and two men seen with a girl matching Madeleine's description at a petrol station near Praia da Luz on the night she was abducted.

One of the male suspects seen on camera is said to have been positively identified by another witness, who spotted him a week before taking photographs of young blonde girls on a beach.

Portuguese witness Nuno Lourenco told police he saw a "foreign man" take a photo of his daughter - who looks "strikingly similar" to Madeleine - in the town of Sagres, 19 miles west of Praia da Luz. Mr Lourenco challenged the stranger who fled in a car.

Police are investigating the theory that Madeleine was kidnapped by one man with the complicity of a couple.

Detectives have called pharmacies in the area to ask if they had seen anyone suspicious buying medicines for children, baby bottles and tablets for travel sickness.

Chief Inspector Oligaro Sousa admitted last night that the intensive search operation for Madeleine was "coming to an end".

A 125-square-mile area of the Algarve had been searched by rescue teams he said, and "the results are zero". Police are convinced that the abduction was planned carefully, probably by more than one person.

Madeleine disappeared a week ago.

Police are investigating reports of a blonde woman seen acting suspiciously near Madeleine's bedroom on the night of her abduction.

The Crimestoppers confidential telephone line also said that it has passed on several fresh leads to police yesterday.

Around 35 tip-offs from callers in Portugal and the UK to a hotline have been passed on to Leicester police, who lead the UK side of the inquiry.

David Beckham is to make a television appeal for the safe return of the missing toddler before her fourth birthday tomorrow. The former England football captain and Real Madrid star will ask the public in Spain to call detectives if they have any information that can help.


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