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Last Updated: Friday, 8 June 2007, 19:38 GMT 20:38 UK
Father offers support to McCanns
Katrice Lee
Katrice vanished after running out of sight for a moment
A Hartlepool man whose young daughter vanished almost 26 years ago has offered his support to the parents of missing girl Madeleine McCann.

Richard Lee's daughter Katrice disappeared from a supermarket in Germany on her second birthday in 1981.

He said he has "walked down a very dark tunnel" ever since, and believes he can offer the McCanns some comfort.

On Friday, Madeleine's parents launched an appeal in Amsterdam, 35 days after she went missing from the Algarve.

Katrice's father was posted to Germany while serving in the Army, and was shopping with his wife and daughter when she vanished.

'Open wound'

They had taken her to the Naafi shop on an Army base at Paderborn, near Hanover, to buy food for her birthday party. She ran out of sight for a moment and was never seen again.

Mr Lee said: "It's an open wound. Every time a child goes missing I feel as if someone's throwing a little bit of salt into that wound, but more so with the McCanns because it reminds me so much of Katrice.

"All I can say is that for 26 years I've been walking down a very dark tunnel and I hope their walk isn't as long as mine has been."

Gerry and Kate McCann held a press conference in Amsterdam on the final leg of a two-day trip in Europe raising awareness of Madeleine's disappearance.

They are expected to fly back to the Algarve in time for a jazz concert in their daughter's name in Lagos.

It is thought Madeleine was snatched from the family's apartment at the resort on 3 May while her parents were at a nearby restaurant.


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