Madeleine McCann chief suspect 'plotted to abduct and sell' a child while working in Algarve resort, it is claimed

29 February 2024, 13:16

Christian Brueckner (l) and Madeleine McCann (r)
Christian Brueckner (l) and Madeleine McCann (r). Picture: alamy

By StephenRigley

The chief suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann worked at the same Algarve resort that she vanished from in 2007, it has been claimed.

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British expat Ken Ralphs - who knew Christian Brueckner at the time through acquaintances - told MailOnline that the German criminal was working cash-in-hand at the Ocean Club tapas bar frequented by Kate and Gerry McCann, Madeleine's parents.

Mr Ralphs, 47, claims that Brueckner plotted with another man to abduct a young girl to then sell her to a couple unable to have children of their own.

Apartment of The Ocean Club resort where Madeleine McCann disappeared PRAIA DA LUZ Portugal
Apartment of The Ocean Club resort where Madeleine McCann disappeared PRAIA DA LUZ Portugal. Picture: Alamy

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The 59-year-old believes the pair went through with their plan and kidnapped Madeleine from her family's hotel room on that night in May 2007, while Kate and Gerry were in the Ocean Club restaurant with their group of friends who later became known as 'The Tapas Seven'.

Mr Ralphs told MailOnline he thinks Brueckner and his co-conspirators lost their nerve when they saw the extensive media coverage of the case and made her impossible to sell.

Brueckner tried to recruit a mutual friend to help find a youngster to sell to a childless couple, Mr Ralphs said.

Mr Ralphs, 59, said: "We were sitting around the fire one night after a meal, we had a few beers and during the early hours of the morning my friend began to cry.

"I asked him what the matter was and, eventually, he confessed to me he was getting involved with Christian to steal a child from Praia da Luz from a rich family."

Mr Ralphs, Christian and their mutual friend, a foreigner who cannot be named for legal reasons, were all part of a nomadic, bohemian community living - for different reasons - off-grid in isolated spots in southwest Portugal.

The Brit - who left the UK in 2004, returning intermittently - says he went to police in both the UK and in Portugal in the immediate aftermath of Madeleine's disappearance, and again when Brueckner was officially named a suspect in 2020.

General view of the Ocean Club in Praia de Luz, Portugal, where Madeleine McCann dissapeared.
General view of the Ocean Club in Praia de Luz, Portugal, where Madeleine McCann dissapeared. Picture: Alamy

Read More: What happened to Madeleine McCann? Timeline of events and developments in the 16 years since her abduction

In both countries, he says he told police about Brueckner's alleged plot, and that the drifter had been working at the Ocean Club restaurant - something that was also reported in the past by a German documentary in 2020.

Since then, Mr Ralphs says, he has received conflicting accounts from police in both countries over whether the information he provided was passed on or investigated.

Brueckner was named by German prosecutors in 2020 as the chief suspect in the notorious case of the missing girl.

Although he has been convicted and charged with a string of other sex crimes, the 47-year-old has never been charged in connection with Madeleine's case and has denied having any involvement in her disappearance.

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