The new suspect in the Madeleine McCann case had a year-long relationship with a British expat while living in Portugal, it emerged yesterday.
German paedophile Christian Brueckner is said to have wooed the woman by taking her on drives along the Algarve in his classic Jaguar.
They also enjoyed romantic dinners at his remote rundown farmhouse on a hill overlooking Praia da Luz in 2004.
Locals in Praia de Luz said German paedophile Christian Brueckner, pictured holding a dog in a bar in Hanover, Germany in 2011, dated a string of women while living in Portugal
Brueckner is believed to have entertained a British woman while living in this house in Praia de Luz, Portugal
But the British expat, whose identity is unknown, is understood to have grown tired of the relationship and ended it.
She is said to be one of a string of young women who Brueckner courted during his 12-year stay in the region.
He disappeared from the seaside resort shortly after Madeleine was snatched as she slept alongside her twin siblings in May 2007. He has emerged this week as a key suspect in her disappearance.
Neighbours living near the farmhouse said his lovers found his ‘odd behaviour’ off-putting.
One said: ‘He had no interest in socialising with any of his neighbours and at times he went out of his way to avoid us.
‘He also kept his girlfriends away from us. I rarely saw this British woman he went out with.’
Police are trying to trace all the woman Brueckner dated to see if they can help with the Madeleine investigation.
The suspect, now 43, first moved to the Algarve in 1995 at the age of 18. He met a young German woman and moved with her into the farmhouse on a hillside above the beach were Madeleine played.
Brueckner used this classic Jaguar to take women he was wooing out for long drives
Neighbours said their relationship was tempestuous and they often saw them arguing. One said: ‘He seemed to be a choleric man.’
The relationship with the British woman came later.
Brueckner moved out of the property in 2006, leaving it a ramshackle mess, neighbours said.
At the time of Madeleine’s disappearance he was understood to have been living in a distinctive camper van which he sold to a breaker’s yard for £4,500 in 2015.
Last night it emerged that police seized the VW T3 Westfalia van from the yard some 25 miles inland from Praia da Luz in 2019.
The owner of the yard, who asked to remain anonymous, said: ‘The police said they needed the van as part of the investigation. It was all very sudden – there had been nothing on the TV or in the papers about the case at that time.
‘I’m not sure I’d ever get it back, but if it turns out Christian had something to do with Madeleine’s disappearance, then I don’t want it back. It wouldn’t be right.’
It has been revealed that Brueckner received a call from a mobile just over an hour before Madeleine vanished. The Portuguese newspaper Jornal de Noticias said the number he was called from was registered to a Diogo Silva, which is a common name in Portugal.
In May 2017, Brueckner was held under a European Arrest Warrant and extradited to Germany. That September, he was sentenced to 15 months in prison for the sexual abuse of a child, according to the Hanover prosecutors.
Yesterday Kate and Gerry McCann’s Portuguese lawyer Rogerio Alves said: ‘A new lead publicised by the police, which is therefore not an anonymous lead or a frivolous one, is obviously going to give the family hope.
‘The family want this investigation to continue because the case is still active. Madeleine’s parents want to know the truth.’