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Six cracks in Murat's alibi as witnesses line up to cast doubt on original Madeleine suspect

Original Source: THIS IS LONDON: 03 DECEMBER 2007

Robert Murat: Detectives searching for Madeleine McCann have 'serious doubts' about his alibi

Detectives searching for Madeleine McCann raised "serious questions" about suspect Robert Murat's alibi yesterday after two new witnesses came forward.

Six people now claim to have seen the British expat outside Kate and Gerry McCann's holiday apartment on the night the girl vanished.

The two new witnesses, who were tourists, have just made contact with the private detective agency Metodo 3.

Their accounts directly contradict Mr Murat's alibi that he was inside the villa he shares with his mother on the night of May 3 and that he did not learn of the disappearance until the next morning.

Metodo 3 have also spoken to a nanny at the resort in Praia da Luz, Charlotte Pennington, who says she saw Mr Murat hanging around reception shortly after Mrs McCann raised the alarm.

In a statement to the agency Miss Pennington, 20, said she saw him at midnight. But he denied this when she confronted him the next day, as he was translating her statement to police.

Miss Pennington, of Leatherhead, Surrey, told police she had seen him at the Ocean Club complex the night before, and said he replied: "No, I wasn't here."

In her written statement to Metodo 3 the nanny said she thought his answer was strange because she was "certain" she had seen him.

Miss Pennington said Mr Murat, 34, also translated the statements given to police by her two friends and gave one of them his mobile number, telling her:

"When you see something strange, contact me."

She said he was "constantly in the resort" in the days after the disappearance.

Mr Murat was reported to police by journalists who found his behaviour and extreme interest in the case bizarre. He was named as an official suspect on May 14.

He has always denied any involvement and told detectives he had spent the night in with his mother Jenny in their villa, Casa Liliana - an alibi his elderly mother has supported.
Six people now claim to have seen the British expat outside Kate and Gerry McCann's holiday apartment after Madeleine McCann (pictured) vanished

The latest witnesses told Metodo 3 they had seen him walking along a road outside the McCanns' apartment that night.

Three of the couple's friends, Fiona Payne, Rachael Oldfield and Russell O'Brien, also claim to have seen him in the hours after the four-year-old vanished.

A Metodo 3 source told the Sunday Mirror: "There are serious questions around Murat's alibi. He says he was at his mum's house and did not learn of Madeleine's disappearance until the following morning.

"But his claims have now been challenged by eyewitnesses. Three of the McCanns' friends have always insisted they saw him that night. They say they are sure it was him.

"Now two new people have contacted us saying they are certain they also saw him. They do not know each other and called our hotline independently."

Miss Pennington said she saw the suspect again days after the disappearance.

He was having coffee at a supermarket in Praia da Luz with a man she did not recognise, but she saw the stranger again in Faro Airport on May 13 as she prepared to fly home to Britain.

She told Metodo 3 she thought the man looked "similar" to the description given of a man seen carrying a child away from the McCanns' apartment at 9.15pm on May 3.

Officers have not given up on their theory that Madeleine died in an accident in her parents' care and that they covered up her death, possibly with help from their friends or even from Mr Murat.

They were said to be puzzled by possible links between him and Dr O'Brien, 36, and his partner Jane Tanner.

Mr Murat, a property consultant, was visiting his sister in Exeter in April a few days before the disappearance, and Dr O'Brien and Miss Tanner, 37, live there.

A source said: "It needs to be established if Murat knew families with children would be staying 100 metres from where he lived."

Mr Murat was unavailable for comment.



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