UK & World News

  • 31 January 2014, 13:27

Madeleine McCann Cops Hunt Resort Workers

British police investigating Madeleine McCann's disappearance have asked their Portuguese counterparts to search the homes and bank accounts of three suspects.

A Scotland Yard team led by Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood made the request during meetings about new leads in the case with senior members of Portugal's Policia Judiciaria earlier this week.

Investigators believe the trio were workers at the Ocean Club complex in Praia da Luz, where the McCann family were staying in 2007 and were behind a string of burglaries in the weeks before Madeleine, then three, went missing.

Former Ocean Club worker Nelson Rodrigues, told Sky News Crime Correspondent Martin Brunt that employees at the complex would have had the perfect opportunity to snatch a child.

He said: "Yes, you could suspect (them). The workers there know the shifts and the hours when people are at home or not at home.

"It's waiters, barmen, people from maintenance, reception, the cleaners - it's a lot of staff."

In May 2007, when the McCanns were holidaying in the Algarve, there were some 160 people working at the family resort.

One expat apartment owner told Sky News that he had property stolen about a month before Madeleine disappeared and that others had been targeted.

He said there was no sign of forced entry at his property and he suspected that the thieves might have had access to a key.

The man spoke to British police 18 months ago - suggesting that their renewed probe has been focused on Ocean Club employees almost since it began.

Paul Luckman, editor of the expat Portugal News, has been following the latest developments in  the case.

He told Sky News: "It's alleged that they could be employees of Ocean Club, which puts a whole new light on it and that they're not, as we've supposed until now, a little group of opportunist burglars going round stealing passports and wallets whenever there was a window open.

"There are suggestions that this is slightly different."

Earlier this month, Sky News reported that police were hunting the three men whose phones were "red hot" after Madeleine vanished.

Mobile phone records show that the men made numerous calls to each other in the hours after Kate and Gerry McCann discovered their daughter had disappeared from her room.

Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry are said to be "buoyed" by signs of progress in the effort to find out what happened to their daughter.

But it is unclear whether Portuguese authorities will respond positively to the latest request for help from the British investigation team.

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