A BLONDE Madeleine McCann suspect could be the man spotted lurking near her holiday apartment just hours before she was snatched from her bed.
On the day the three-year-old vanished, a witness claimed they saw a man skulking around the Ocean Club apartment where Madeleine and her family were staying.
The suspect was seen at 4pm - around six hours before the youngster was discovered missing from her bed and the alarm raised.
He was described as white, aged 30 to 35, thin with shirt, light-coloured hair.
In 2013, an e-fit was released of the man - with detectives from Scotland Yard now saying this has "not been ruled out" after it was revealed they had a prime suspect living in Germany.
The chief suspect, named today as paedo Christian B, lived in Praia da Luz between 1995 and 2007 and has been described as blonde - matching the mystery man spotted lurking near the McCann's apartment.
It was originally believed the e-fit could have been notorious child killer Martin Ney but this has since been ruled out.
Speaking about the sighting in her bestselling 2011 book Madeleine, her mum Kate said: "His behaviour struck the witness as suspicious.
"He appeared to be trying to close the gate quietly, using both hands, and very slowly and deliberately checking in both directions before walking to the end of the pathway and on to Rua Dr Gentil Martins."
The gate he walked through is understood to be to apartment 5B, next to the McCann’s 5A, where Kate and Gerry's friends Matt and Rachael Oldfield and their young daughter Grace were staying.
The suspect at the heart of the probe has today been revealed as Christian B - a paedo caged for “multiple” child sex attacks.
He was born in Germany in 1976 but moved to Portugal in his late teens.
While living in the country between 1995 and 2007, he rented two homes while selling drugs and burgling homes to top up his income from working part-time in the food industry.
One of the homes he rented is just five miles from the Ocean Club apartment where Madeleine is feared to have been snatched from her bed on May 3, 2007.
The white house with a typical Portuguese orange roof is up in the hills above Praia da Luz on a secluded road surrounded by just a few other houses.
A drive from the home to the holiday club where Madeleine and her family were staying takes just 11 minutes through rolling countryside.
The paedo, who was convicted of sexual assault against two young girls, also had a "vile and disgusting" lair - again just a few miles from the apartment.
The farmhouse he rented was said to be on a footpath leading to the beach where the little girl played while on holiday with her mum, dad Gerry and twin siblings Sean and Amelie.
Christian B was jailed in Germany last year for seven years for the rape of a 72-year-old American woman in Portugal two years before Madeleine went missing, Braunschweiger Zeitung reports.
He broke into the victim's house armed with “a curved sabre” and a rope to tie her to a wooden beam.
She was blindfolded, gagged and whipped with a piece of metal before being raped and robbed.
The victim told the police: “He enjoyed torturing me.”
He also has a long rapsheet for drug offences and sex attacks on kids, sexual coercion, theft and breaking and entering, reports Bild.
It has also been reported the prolific burglar first broke into a house in 1992 when he was aged around 15.
Hans Christian Wolters, a spokesman for the Braunschweig Public Prosecutor's Office, said today: "With the suspect, we are talking about a sexual predator who has already been convicted of crimes against little girls and he's already serving a long sentence."
Police in Germany fear the fiend may have been working with an accomplice when he broke into the McCann apartment, who may know where Madeleine's body is.
They revealed today they are investigating the convicted rapist "on suspicion of murder" and say they believe Madeleine is dead.
A number of potential links between Christian B and the disappearance have arisen - including an alleged conversation about Madeleine in a chatroom before police began honing in on him.
The paedo was first thrust into the frame in 2017 after allegedly confessing to abducting Madeleine in a bar.
He was reportedly chatting to the friend in Germany when a TV report came on about the tenth anniversary of the girl's disappearance and he suggested he knew what had happened to her.
German sources claim he boasted he had "snatched her" but didn’t say he had killed her.
The 43-year-old prisoner was revealed to be living in a campervan in Praia da Luz in Portugal around the time the youngster vanished on May 3, 2007.
Cops say he was driving the vehicle in the same town just days before Madeleine vanished and is believed to have been living in it for days or weeks before and after the date of her disappearance.
The paedo has also been linked to a 1993 Jaguar XJR6 with a German number plate seen in Praia da Luz and surrounding areas in 2006 and 2007.
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German police believe one of the two vehicles were used in the disappearance of Madeleine.
On May 4, 2007 - the day after Madeleine vanished - the man got the Jaguar re-registered in Germany under someone else's name although it is believed the vehicle remained in Portugal.
He also took a mysterious 30-minute phonecall just one hour before the disappearance and had also rented two homes in Portugal just miles from the Ocean Club where Madeleine was staying.