POTENTIAL DNA evidence from a rape linked to Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner was destroyed on the orders of Portuguese prosecutors.
Irish rape victim Hazel Behan waived her right to anonymity this month to say the masked man who targeted her in her Algarve apartment could have been the German sex offender.
She went public about the horrific 2004 attack after discovering Bruecker was convicted last year of the 2005 rape of an American OAP in Praia da Luz, where Madeleine disappeared in May 2007.
Mum-of-two Ms Behan said the Met Police told her they were taking her case very seriously and would be contacting their Portuguese counterparts after taking a statement.
However, it has now emerged that biological material from the crime scene was destroyed around two months before Madeleine's disappearance, meaning the chance of making any solid link between the two cases could be impossible.
The decision is laid bare in court papers relating to Ms Behan's rape in Praia da Rocha, a half-hour drive from Praia da Luz.
It followed the March 2007 mothballing of the court probe to try to catch the man who raped the former holiday rep in a five-hour attack after threatening her with a machete.
The decision to shelve the investigation was linked to the fact that identifying possible suspects was complicated by the rape happening during Euro 2004, when more people were in the area and it appeared to be a "one-off" attack.
Case files state Ms Behan described the rapist as an English speaker who could be "German, Belgian or Dutch".
Ms Behan's underwear was among clothes passed to experts for lab analysis, along with a broken nail.
Documents make it clear the biological material was obtained, but no DNA profile comparisons could be made because no suspects were identified.
Confirming the destruction of the potential evidence, the authorities said: "On March 15, 2007, when the judge decides to archive the investigation, the Public Ministry decide any biological material should be destroyed.
"As they are in a bad condition it is improbable that if this re-investigation was reopened the material could be subjected to counter-proof analysis."
The decision emerged days after the former head of Portugal's National Forensic Medicine Institute said evidence collected from the McCanns' holiday apartment and "kept in optimum conditions" could still prove valuable in unlocking the 13-year mystery.
Irish News Premium
Investigators are being urged to take "all the appropriate steps" to review the case of an Irish woman who was raped in Portugal in 2004 after she said she believes the new suspect linked to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann could be her attacker.