29/09/2008

Maddy 'Spotted' In Majorca

Fresh hopes over the news of a possible sighting of missing child, Madeline McCann on one of the Spanish Balearic islands, have had to be tempered with caution.

The report to police was delayed for three days as the British couple who claim to have seen missing Maddy on a beach first attempted to contact the McCanns through the internet.

They only reported the incident to Spanish police on Wednesday last, so they may have lost important time before commencing a search of the holiday island of Majorca.

Detectives only then began scouring hotels and holiday apartments over the weekend for two dark-haired women seen with a young blonde girl matching Maddy's description.

The holidaying couple were convinced they saw the missing child with the two women at the Cala d'Or, in the south east of the island, last Sunday morning.

A police source said: "The couple's account was detailed and there were no contradictions in their statements.

"However, we are aware of the numerous previous sightings all over the world that have turned out to be false and it could well be that the couple have made an honest mistake."
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The British couple, who are in their 50s, were on a two-week holiday and had arrived on September 11.

They were enjoying a morning at Cala Gran beach when they spotted a pale blonde girl under a parasol.

The couple were suspicious because the two women she was with had dark hair and did not look like they were related to the girl. The toddler was colouring in a book on her own and was wearing sunglasses.

On Wednesday, one of the staff at the couple's hotel took them to the police and acted as a translator while the couple gave their statement, before the couple flew back to Manchester on Thursday.

Police have since been to hotels and holiday apartments in Cala d'Or and nearby Cala Egos and Cala Ferrera.

Madeleine was days short of her fourth birthday when she disappeared from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, in southern Portugal in May 2007.

Private detectives from Spanish firm Metodo 3 may travel to Majorca to investigate the sighting. The Barcelona-based firm was paid £50,000-a-month until their involvement was scaled down late last year.

British firm Oakley International took over the search, funded by the McCanns' millionaire friend Brian Kennedy.

See: Maddie Alive, Says Dad

(BMcC/KMcA)

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