Police blunder left Maddie suspect free
The prime suspect in the Madeleine McCann case could have been captured two years before she disappeared if it was not for a Portuguese police blunder over evidence in a rape case.
Clothes and rope from a villa where Christian Brueckner raped a US woman in 2005 were not DNA tested, so he was not caught until 2017,The Sun reports.
The villa, called Casa Jacaranda, was only a 10-minute stroll from the apartment in Praia da Luz where Madeleine, three, was snatched in May 2007.
The case was mothballed amid a catalogue of errors by Portuguese police with the attacker still at large.
Brueckner, 43, was finally arrested over the rape in 2017 and convicted in December after German police reinvestigated and did DNA tests on a sample of body hair from the villa.
After her disappearance Portuguese police failed to seal off the McCann family holiday apartment for almost 24 hours.
It led to a crime scene contamination by up to 50 people. Cleaners washed bed sheets and ash from officers' cigarettes was found in evidence samples. The 2005 rape inquiry was abandoned after just five months.
A red T-shirt which was ripped up by the attacker and stuffed in his victim's mouth was not DNA tested. Neither was nylon rope used to tie her hands.
Official documents show Carlos Farinha, then Director of the Judicial Police's Forensic Science Laboratory, wrote in a letter dated November 28, 2009: "We have learned by telephone that the examination is no longer necessary.
"We are therefore cancelling the tests and returning the material sent to us for analysis."
Three weeks ago German police said they have evidence Madeleine is dead and identified Brueckner as the prime suspect in her abduction.
Kate and Gerry McCann said they have not been officially told there is evidence their daughter is dead.
German prosecutors are now convinced the mistakes made by Portuguese police in the 2005 rape case left child sex offender Brueckner free to snatch Madeleine.
Drug dealer Brueckner emerged as a possible suspect in the rape after a former friend told German police he had shown off a video of a sex attack.
Earlier this month it was revealed evidence linking Christian B to a 2005 sex attack on a 10-year-old British girl could also be gathering dust in Portuguese police stores.
Originally published as Police blunder left Maddie suspect free