Page last updated at 23:29 GMT, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 00:29 UK

'Very ugly' new Madeleine suspect

Artist's impression of Madeleine suspect
An artist's impression of a suspect in Madeleine's case has been released

An artist's impression has been drawn of the latest suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

The image shows a "very ugly" man who appeared to watch the apartment where the three-year-old's family was staying on the day before she vanished.

The McCann family were staying in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz when Madeleine went missing on 3 May, 2007.

Investigators have received hundreds of phone calls since the McCanns appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show in the US.

The latest image is based on the account of a British woman on holiday in Praia da Luz.

She said she saw the man, with pitted skin and a large nose, twice in the days before Madeleine's disappearance and told police he was "very ugly", about 5ft 10ins tall, slim and was wearing casual clothes, probably jeans.

In my experience random just doesn't happen - someone just doesn't go in, a passer-by, and pick up a child and take it.
Dave Edgar, former detective inspector

Another two witnesses - a 12-year-old schoolgirl and a man from Cheshire - also reported seeing a man watching the McCanns' apartment in the days before Madeleine vanished.

They have not yet confirmed whether the person they saw was the same one depicted in the new artist's impression.

Meanwhile, retired British detectives believe five separate sightings of a suspicious man could help solve the mystery of Madeleine's disappearance.

Former detective inspector Dave Edgar, 52, and former detective sergeant Arthur Cowley, 57, are being employed by the McCanns to continue the search for their daughter.

The former policemen have examined thousands of pages from the official Portuguese case files, which were made public last July.

They have formed a theory based on several previously unreported accounts along with two better known sightings of a man carrying a child away from the flat on the night Madeleine vanished.

Pictures of Madeleine McCann
A computer-aged picture (right) shows how Madeleine (left) may look now

Their idea, revealed in a documentary to be broadcast on Channel 4 on Thursday, is that someone watched the McCanns' apartment for up to a week before Madeleine disappeared.

Mr Edgar said: "In my experience random just doesn't happen - someone just doesn't go in, a passer-by, and pick up a child and take it. These things are planned.

"There's three [witness accounts] of exactly the same location.

"I don't know what the Portuguese authorities have done to eliminate these people from the inquiry. So we've got to presume that they haven't done it and go with that.

"This offence happened in Praia da Luz. It's a very self-contained resort, and that's where I think the answer is."

The McCanns, from Rothley, Leicestershire, used their appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show to release a computer-aged picture of how their daughter might look now.

Madeleine's sixth birthday will be on Tuesday.

The recent calls made to the couple's private investigators include details of around 30 possible sightings of the missing girl, mostly in the US and Latin America but a few in Europe.



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