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Witness 'saw Murat at resort'

HOMEPAGE NEWS REPORTS INDEX NEWS DECEMBER 2007
Original Source: MIRROR: 03 DECEMBER 2007
Victoria Ward in Praia Da Luz 03/12/2007
 
A key witness has told police she spotted suspect Robert Murat at the scene the night Madeleine McCann vanished.

British nanny Charlotte Pennington, 20, claims she saw Murat at the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz on the evening of May 3.

She told the private detective agency hired by the McCanns that when she confronted the expat property developer the following day he denied having ever been there.

She said he tried to shrug it off and instead gave his mobile number to one of her colleagues in case she saw "anything suspicious".


And she recalled that Murat told them: "When you see something strange contact me."

The details emerged after Charlotte, from Leatherhead, Surrey, was questioned again about the evening four-year-old Maddy vanished.

She was one of the first on the scene and has already given a haunting account of Kate McCann's horror - describing her as "a broken woman" who was shuddering and unable to move.

She is adamant that she saw Murat at the scene at around midnight. She says he was standing at the club's reception as the massive search swung into action.

But she told detectives that when she saw him working as a translator for police the following afternoon, he said: "No, I wasn't there" - and indicated that she shouldn't pursue the subject.

She said in her statement to Barcelona-based agency Metodo 3: "When I went in, he was in the kitchen with several detectives. He didn't want to talk any more."

Charlotte admitted that she thought his answer "very strange" because she was "certain" she saw him that night.

She said he hung around helping to translate the statements of other babysitters, including her friends Kirsty Mayran and Lianne Wagstaff. And she told detectives he gave his mobile number to Kirsty, asking her to contact him if any of them saw anything suspicious.

She said: "In the end we didn't know who he worked for." She added that over the next few days Murat was "constantly" at the resort.

The nanny said she saw him again sitting outside the local supermarket with a man aged between 27 and 35, of medium build with very dark eyes and "a Portuguese or Spanish look".

And she claimed she saw the same man at Faro airport on May 13, when she returned to England.

Charlotte told detectives she was struck by his similarity to an e-fit of a Maddy suspect - though it was unclear which one.

She reported the sighting to police on her return to the UK. Murat, 34, was made arguido - an official suspect - on May 14.

He insists he was having dinner at home with his mum Jenny, 71, throughout the evening of Madeleine's disappearance.

But several people have placed him at the Ocean Club that night, including three of the McCanns' friends and a couple who contacted Metodo 3 to say they saw him walking along a road outside the family's apartment.

Meanwhile, police are investigating a disused barn in Praia da Luz where a towel was found that could have traces of Madeleine's blood.

Fibres were said to have a strong match to those found in the hire car rented by Kate and Gerry McCann 25 days after the tot disappeared.

Forensic experts used a substance called luminol to search for blood - and found three potential samples, according to Portuguese sources.

They showed a "moderate" match but were not strong enough to be presented as evidence.

Portuguese plan to return to the UK to re-interview the so-called Tapas Seven. They also want British experts to carry out new DNA tests after the initial batch proved inconclusive.

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