Portuguese police ‘have already ruled out McCann suspect in rape of Irish woman’ – World News
Portuguese police have ruled out paedophile Christian Brueckner as a suspect in the violent rape of an Irish woman in the Algarve more than 15 years ago, it is claimed.
Brueckner, now 43, is suspected of abducting and murdering Madeleine McCann in Praia da Luz about three years after Hazel Behan was attacked in her apartment in 2004.
Ms Behan told this week how she became physically sick when she read disturbing details of how masked Brueckner raped and battered a 72-year-old American woman on camera in Praia da Luz in 2005.
She said that incident was similar to the attack on her when a masked and machete-wielding intruder bound and gagged her, and then filmed himself raping and beating her for up to five hours before fleeing.
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Her assailant was never caught and she believes the Portuguese police investigation was flawed with officers failing to carry out a thorough investigation and search.
She believes that if Portuguese police had thoroughly investigated her case they might have caught the assailant.
When Brueckner emerged as the prime suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance, detectives took another look at the attack on Ms Behan to find out if he was the assailant, the Portuguese newspaper Jornal de Noticas reported.
However, they came to the conclusion that he was not responsible and ruled him out as a suspect, the report added.
The newspaper reported: “Jornal de Noticias has learnt that the idea it was Brueckner was considered when he became a suspect in the Maddie case.
“Unsolved crimes, like those of Hazel’s, were revisited and the investigators concluded he was not the author.”
Police revisited a number of unsolved crimes to see if Brueckner might have been responsible, the newspaper said.
Ms Behan has spoken to British police and asked Portuguese officers to review her case after learning about Brueckner last week.
She told how she was attacked in her flat in Praia da Rocha, about 15 miles from the resort where Madeleine disappeared, when she was working as a 20-year-old holiday rep in the Algarve.
Waiving her right to anonymity, she told the Guardian that her rapist was a man who spoke English with a German accent, and was about 6ft 1in.
The intruder set up a video camera to film the attack and told her not to scream.
He dragged her and tied her to the countertop of a breakfast bar, brought out a bag of whips and chains, cut off her clothes and gagged her with a cloth.
He then beat and raped her in what seemed like a carefully planned attack.
Ms Behan said: “I had gone to bed around 1am, and was awoken by someone calling my name. I turned on to my back and standing there was a masked man dressed in tights and what resembled a leotard, a machete around 12in long in his hand.”
She added: “He consistently cleaned his hands, and repeatedly changed condoms. He wanted me to perform a certain act on him which I just couldn’t, I was gagging.
“He got angry and ordered me into the bathroom and he picked up the machete. I was convinced he was going to kill me, and I threatened to scream and said I would not go in there.”
Ms Behan’s hands were still bound behind her back when her assailant leaned her over a small bench and put a sheet over her head.
She feared she was about to be killed, but he then backed out of the door, put his shoes back on and ran off.
Through the holes in his mask she said she could see his blond eyebrows and blue eyes.
There was a distinctive mark on the top of his right thigh, which was either a pull in the tights, a tattoo or a birthmark, she added.
German media have described Brueckner, now 43, as having birthmarks on his upper right thigh.
Former neighbours in Praia da Luz said he abruptly moved out of his ramshackle home in 2006, leaving behind a collection of wigs, fancy dress and exotic clothing.
Ms Behan has been left deeply traumatised and told how she “puked” when she read about the attack on the American woman because it took her back to the night she was raped.
The Irish woman said she was “humiliated” by police who took her back to her room and asked her to remove her clothes and stand in a “star jump-like” position while they photographed her.
She was then taken to a hospital for a physical examination, but she doesn’t know if any forensic evidence was collected.
Ms Behan believes police did not carry out a thorough investigation or search because there was no attempt to examine her wounds for evidence, and one of her fingernails was discovered by her mum in her room several days later.
She said she had been told to stay quiet about the attack so it wouldn’t bring bad publicity to the resort.
She suspects she was being stalked and the suspect had been in her room in the weeks before the rape because money was missing and belongings had been moved.
Ms Behan, who lives in Ireland with her husband and two children, had been losing hope that her attacker would be brought to justice until she learned of the past crimes of the new suspect in the McCann case.
When she gave a statement to Met Police she was told they were taking her case seriously and they would contact Portuguese police.
She said the Met told her that other people had contacted them independently about her attack.
The American pensioner who was attacked in a luxury villa in Praia da Luz, the same resort where Maddie would vanish about 18 months later, told Portuguese police that an intruder grabbed her and dragged her into a bedroom, where she was tied up, raped and tortured.
Brueckner filmed the 2005 attack and wasn’t caught for 14 years until a friend came forward with information and DNA evidence linked him to the crime.
The friend told police he broke into Brueckner’s home near Praia da Luz in 2006 when the suspect was in custody for allegedly stealing diesel fuel.
During the burglary, the friend found a video camera and footage showing separate attacks on an “older” woman and a “younger” woman.
But the friend stayed silent for years before going to police with the information and Brueckner’s name.
Hair recovered from the woman’s bed was a match with Brueckner’s DNA, his trial was told.
Brueckner lived about half a mile from the flat where he raped the US woman.
He was jailed last December for seven years and is currently in prison in Kiel in northern Germany.
Meanwhile, prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters, who is leading the German investigation into Brueckner, said Madeleine was possibly abused and then killed shortly after she was kidnapped.
He revealed the information as he issued a fresh appeal for tips amid fears the prime suspect could be freed from prison.
Brueckner is suspected of kidnapping the youngster from her family’s holiday flat in Praia da Luz on the night of May 3, 2007, and murdering her.
German prosecutors have already said they believe Madeleine is dead and they know how she was killed, but they lack the “crucial evidence” of her body and are not prepared to charge the 43-year-old suspect.
Mr Wolters told the Times: “My private opinion is that he relatively quickly killed the girl, possibly abused her and then killed her.
“We believe our suspect committed further crimes, especially sexual crimes, in Portugal possibly but also elsewhere like Germany.”
Mr Wolters declined to say whether it is suspected Brueckner had filmed abuse of Madeleine.
The prosecutor said Brueckner could be freed today if a court in Kiel, in northern Germany, granted him parole because he has served two thirds of his sentence.
Brueckner is serving 21 months in a Kiel prison for drug trafficking and seven years for raping the American woman. He is appealing against the latter sentence, which was handed out by a court in Braunschweig, where he once lived.
German authorities fear he will be released from prison before they have enough evidence to charge him in the McCann case, and then leave the country.
Mr Wolters added: “The sooner we get evidence, the better for us to avoid the risk of him ever being released.
“If we find nothing new against him it could be that in seven years at the latest he may be released and leaves Germany for a country that doesn’t extradite.”
Police across Europe are also looking into whether he had any involvement in unsolved disappearances or murders of children, or rapes of women.
Brueckner dated at least two British women when he lived in the Algarve, and one of the ex-girlfriends claims she had a chilling conversation with him over dinner the night before Madeleine was abducted, the Sun reported.
The woman claims Brueckner, then 30, told her while they were dating: “I have a job to do in Praia da Luz tomorrow. It’s a horrible job but it’s something I have to do and it will change my life. You won’t be seeing me for a while.”
It is claimed Brueckner disappeared from the Algarve at the same time as Madeleine and resurfaced three years later working in a bar in Lagos, about six miles from Praia da Luz.
In 2010, a British woman who had dated him suggested he looked like some of the e-fits of the McCann suspects and jokingly asked him if he abducted the girl.
A friend of both women told the Sun: “He blanked the question and shrugged – then added, ‘Just don’t go there’.”
The friend said Brueckner’s cryptic comments about having a “horrible job” to do weren’t taken seriously by his girlfriend on the night of May 2, 2007, because she didn’t think he was capable of doing something terrible.
The friend added: “But we also can’t help feeling guilty thinking we should have pulled together all the clues years ago and gone to the police.”
Brueckner beat up the two British women – one now a mum-of-two living in Berkshire – when he was dating them, the friend claims.
Both are living in fear of Brueckner and desperate to ensure he remains locked up, the friend said.
Neither woman is a suspect and there is no suggestion either had any knowledge of any involvement Brueckner might have had in the disappearance of Madeleine.
Maddie, from Rothley, Leicestershire, was just days away from her fourth birthday when she vanished from her family’s holiday apartment at the Ocean Club complex in Praia da Luz.
Her parents had left her and her 18-month-old twin siblings, Sean and Amelie, sleeping alone while they had dinner with friends at a tapas restaurant nearby.