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Childless couple took Maddie, says top cop

MISSING Madeleine McCann was most likely abducted by a childless couple rather than a paedophile ring, according to a former top kidnap investigator.

Ian Horrocks, a former Scotland Yard officer, believes that Maddie, who disappeared from her parents' holiday home in Portugal five years ago, was targeted as soon as she arrived in Praia da Luz with her parents.

Mr Horrocks added that Maddie's abductors are unlikely to have remained in the Algarve, although they could still be in Portugal.

The kidnap specialist, who worked for London's Metropolitan Police for three decades, gave his views on the case as he visited apartment 5a at the Ocean Club where the McCanns were staying in 2007.

"Madeleine was most likely abducted by a couple," he said.



Rehearsed

"It is clear the plan and the escape route were planned and probably rehearsed. It was not impulsive.

"The people who took Madeleine most likely don't have children of their own, or a close, extended family.

"I do not believe Madeleine was targeted by a paedophile ring.

"Madeleine was taken by someone who wanted her as part of their family.

"I believe they saw her earlier in the week and developed their plan to abduct her."

Mr Horrocks, who led one of Scotland Yard's Kidnap and Special Investigations teams for five years, said that Maddie's abductor would have waited for nightfall to act.

"The abductor could have made good his escape in less than two minutes.

"By turning right from the apartment he could have been totally out of sight within 30 seconds of taking Madeleine."



Suspicious

"This involved observing the McCanns for some time. There were six sightings of a suspicious male in the days prior to Madeleine's abduction.

"On that night, Gerry would have been seen checking on his children at 9.05pm, then returning to the tapas bar. It was the ideal time.

Maddie's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, were dining at a restaurant near their apartment with friends when Maddie vanished from the room she shared with her twin siblings.

Mr Horrocks' conclusions come as Portuguese officials rejected a call to reopen the case last week.

British police said that a review of the case, which was ordered last year, had revealed 195 new leads.

"There are no reliable forensics, there are no apparent suspects," Mr Horrocks said.

"All that is left are witnesses. This is where the focus should be. It is almost five years since this terrible offence. But it is not too late," Mr Horrocks said.

hnews@herald.ie