Want to be a reporter or would you like to buy a report for the best price?
Just Sign Up here!
Privacy guidelines License our content Help
A bogus charity collector was suspected of planning to abduct a young British girl hours before Madeleine McCann vanished, a new book reveals.
The intruder fled when he was caught in a villa close to the apartment from where three-year-old Madeleine disappeared in Portugal in 2007.
Author Anthony Summers told Sky News that a British mother answered her door to a stranger asking for donations to an orphanage.
"She soon realised he wasn't really looking at her, but was staring intently at her young daughter of three or four who standing at her side, holding on to her skirt.
"She later saw that man watching her place during the afternoon. The next day she went upstairs to fetch something for a moment and as she started to come downstairs she saw what she thinks was the same man in the room where her child was and as soon as she started to come into the room he scarpered."
The woman was convinced the man intended to take her daughter and has been interviewed by Scotland Yard detectives investigating Madeleine's disappearance, said Mr Summers.
The incident in the Praia da Luz report is recounted in Looking For Madeleine, published next week, by Mr Summers and his co-author Robbyn Swan.
The authors spent two years studying Portuguese police files and British documents for what they claim is the first objective book on the Madeleine case. They did not interview Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry McCann.
The book also reveals how another intruder got into the bed of a young girl in the nearby resort of Carvoeiro three years earlier.
The man fled after the girl and her sister woke up and asked if he was their daddy or uncle, said Ms Swan.
She said: "What they noticed about this man was that he was wearing what seemed to be a surgical mask and he had wound laundry around his feet, seemingly to keep from making prints or leaving marks.
"He disappeared without interfering with the two girls."
A mystery sexual predator and three burglary suspects are the focus of the current Scotland Yard investigation.
The authors claim that the McCanns' holiday apartment, no 5a at the Ocean Club complex, was being watched in the days leading up to Madeleine's disappearance.
Ms Swan said: "Two separate witnesses apparently saw a man, whom both described as very ugly or with a spotty or pimply face, staring fixedly at apartment 5a. They both described him being in the same position in the street.
"That's combined with the fact that on the very day Madeleine disappeared, a lady visiting the apartment upstairs saw from her balcony a man behaving very oddly in the lane between the apartments and the pool.
"The man was going out of an adjacent gate, closing the gate repeatedly to see if it was creaky. He seemed to be looking around and generally acting very peculiarly before leaving."
Madeleine was nearly four when she vanished. She was sleeping in a room with her younger brother and sister in the apartment while her parents were dining with friends in the complex's poolside tapas bar nearby.
The McCanns said they had left the sliding patio door unlocked, while checking on the children every 30 minutes.
The authors say that Mrs McCann has said she was told by the then British consul Bill Henderson that before Madeleine vanished he was aware of a spate of child sex assaults along the Algarve coast and had discussed it with holiday companies.
Mr Summers said: "Had there been a warning note in the apartment, do we think the McCanns would have left the patio door unlocked on the night they went to the other side of the pool to have dinner away from their children?
"One would be tempted to think they would make sure everything was firmly locked up."
The McCanns' tour operators Mark Warner Ltd said its policy was not to comment. The Foreign Office told the authors it had no information to give them.