Madeleine McCann suspect ‘bragged to friends he snatched her’

A German man identified as the main suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann reportedly told a friend in the pub: ‘I snatched her’.

German national Christian Brueckner, 43, is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence for raping an American woman, 72, in Portugal. He is known to have lived on the Algarve coast, and his Portuguese mobile received a half-hour phone call in Praia da Luz around an hour before Madeleine, three, went missing from the area on May 3 2007.

Officers were tipped off about his possible involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance following a 2017 appeal. Brueckner watched the appeal on TV and allegedly told a friend that he knew what had happened to her, The Sun reports.

The publication says he then showed a witness a video of himself raping a woman, which later led to him being jailed. He is currently serving his jail sentence in Kiel and has a criminal record of 17 entries, including child abuse while he was still a teenager.

He was previously investigated by Portuguese cops in 2008 over Madeleine’s disappearance but later ruled out. He was then named again in 2013 after an appeal for info by the Met Police’s Operation Grange team.

The Met said they received ‘significant’ new information about his potential involvement from a witness in 2017 following a 10th-anniversary appeal. It is not known why Brueckner was ruled out in investigations before.

Last night, German prosecutors said in their appeal that they believe Madeleine is dead and are investigating Brueckner on suspicion of her murder. According to The Sun, German officers believe they know the method used to kill her.

Hans Christian Wolters, a spokesman for the Braunschweig public prosecutor’s office, said: ‘We are assuming that the girl is dead.

German prosecutor: We are assuming that Madeleine McCann is dead

‘With the suspect, we are talking about a sexual predator who has already been convicted of crimes against little girls and he’s already serving a long sentence.’

The Met Police’s Operation Grange, which has so-far received more than £12,000,000 in funding since its launch, say there is no ‘definitive evidence whether Madeleine is alive or dead’. They are still treating Madeleine’s disappearance as a missing persons case.

Brueckner is believed to have been living in a distinctive early 1980s VW T3 Westfalia camper van at the time and re-registered a 1993 Jaguar XJR6 in someone else’s name the day after her disappearance.

Both vehicles linked to the suspect have been seized by German police, who said there is information to suggest the suspect may have used one of them in the alleged offence.