Madeleine McCann disappearance: suspect Christian Brueckner charged over sexual offences in Portugal

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Investigators believe Christian Brueckner killed Madeleine McCann, then three, after abducting her from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in 2007.

The prime suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann has been charged with several sex offences allegedly committed in Portugal, German prosecutors said.

Convicted sex offender Christian Brueckner is accused of committing five offences between 2000 and 2017, the public prosecutor’s office in Braunschweig said. However they said these do no relate to the McCann case. Investigators believe the 45-year-old killed Madeleine, then three, after abducting her from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3 2007.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Brueckner, who has reportedly denied any involvement in the case, was identified as a suspect in the McCann case by Portuguese officials in June 2020.

 Madeleine McCann (left) went missing in 2007. Christian Brueckner (right) is the prime suspect in the case. Madeleine McCann (left) went missing in 2007. Christian Brueckner (right) is the prime suspect in the case.
Madeleine McCann (left) went missing in 2007. Christian Brueckner (right) is the prime suspect in the case. | Getty/PA

What are the new charges against Christian Brueckner?

The convicted sex offender has been charged with the alleged rape of a woman in her 70s in her holiday apartment in Portugal at an unknown date between 2000 and 2006, and the alleged rape of a 20-year-old Irish woman in Praia da Rocha - around 20 miles away from Praia da Luz - in 2004.

Brueckner is also alleged to have orally raped a teenage girl in her home in Praia da Luz after tying her up and whipping her on an unknown date between 2000 and 2006. He is claimed to have filmed the incidents.

He allegedly exposed himself to a 10-year-old German girl in Faro in 2007 and to a 11-year old Portuguese girl in Bartolomeu de Messines in 2017.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
German investigators have found new evidence against the prime suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, a prosecutor has revealed in an interview on Portuguese television.German investigators have found new evidence against the prime suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, a prosecutor has revealed in an interview on Portuguese television.
German investigators have found new evidence against the prime suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, a prosecutor has revealed in an interview on Portuguese television.

When did Madeleine McCann go missing?

Madeleine went missing on 3 May, 2007, from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal. The McCanns were enjoying a tapas dinner in the holiday resort with friends now dubbed the “tapas seven”.

They left their children alone in their apartment, which was located 50 metres away. The parents and friends took turns to check on each other’s children.

  • 8.35pm: Kate and Gerry McCann arrive for dinner at a tapas restaurant in the resort.
  • 9.05pm: Gerry checks on his children, and sees Madeleine.
  • 9.30pm: Friend, Matthew Oldfield checks the McCann’s apartment, he hears no noise, does not check the children’s bedroom and leaves without seeing Madeleine.
  • 10.00pm: Kate McCann checks on her children, Madeleine is discovered missing and the alert is raised.

According to the Daily Mail, Madeleine’s parents said that they left the children alone as they didn’t want to disturb their sleep routine and didn’t feel comfortable leaving them alone with a stranger.

Timeline of events in the Madeleine McCann case.Timeline of events in the Madeleine McCann case.
Timeline of events in the Madeleine McCann case. | NationalWorld graphic.

Who is suspect Christian Brueckner?

In 2020, German police named Brueckner as an official suspect and the person they think is responsible for abducting and killing her, even though he has never been charged. German investigators believe he killed Madeleine soon after abducting her from the McCann’s holiday apartment

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He is serving a 15-month prison sentence in Germany for drug dealing, and is appealing a conviction for the 2005 rape of a 72-year-old American woman, also at Praia da Luz, for which he was sentenced to seven years in jail. And he has now been charged with these five additional sexually offences, allegedly committed in Portugal between 2000 and 2017.

Brueckner was living in the camper van at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance near Praia da Luz. He claimed he was miles from the scene having sex with a woman in his camper van. He said he drove her to Faro Airport the next morning for her flight home and they were stopped at a police roadblock.

General view shows the apartment hotel building where Madelaine McCann disappeared in Praia da Luz, southern Portugal.General view shows the apartment hotel building where Madelaine McCann disappeared in Praia da Luz, southern Portugal.
General view shows the apartment hotel building where Madelaine McCann disappeared in Praia da Luz, southern Portugal. | AFP via Getty Images

He said the woman was arrested at airport security for carrying an illegal pepper spray and later appeared in court.

In an exchange with German TV channel SAT.1, he protested his innocence. Brueckner told them in 2007 he worked as a drug dealer in the Algarve, but: “I was never caught by the police because I stuck to a few principles.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“If possible, only drive during the day so that my battered ‘hippie bus’ doesn’t attract attention, only drive necessary routes and most importantly, by no means provoke the police. So don’t commit crimes, certainly not steal people. At the time, the latter was just as absurd to me as starting a nuclear war or slaughtering a chicken.”

What is the evidence against Christian Brueckner?

A team working on a documentary for German TV channel SAT.1 said it has made new findings in case. The channel says its team has found evidence which reveals suspect Brueckner was near the holiday resort shortly before three-year-old Madeleine went missing.

It claims he “repeatedly worked” at the holiday apartments where the McCanns were staying. Quoting a “reliable witness”, documentary makers SAT.1 allege he carried out “repair work” at the resort and was “very familiar” with the area, the Telegraph reports.

Madeleine McCann’s parents have lost the latest stage in their legal battle against a former Portuguese detective. Credit: Getty ImagesMadeleine McCann’s parents have lost the latest stage in their legal battle against a former Portuguese detective. Credit: Getty Images
Madeleine McCann’s parents have lost the latest stage in their legal battle against a former Portuguese detective. Credit: Getty Images | AFP via Getty Images

The TV crew claimed “on-site analysis of phone records showed Brueckner and his cell phone must have been no more than five minutes away from the Ocean Club [apartments] on the night of the disappearance”. SAT.1 previously said its reporting team has made its research on the case available to the Braunschweig public prosecutor.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The channel’s editor-in-chief Juliane Eßling: “The sad story of Madeleine McCann is a story that has many German facets.

Speaking of Brueckner, she said: “There are many around him, German women and men, who can describe individual details about the crime. For our documentary, SAT.1 investigative journalist Jutta Rabe has researched shocking material in Germany, Portugal and England over the past few months, which Christian Brueckner is heavily incriminated in.”