CONVICTED paedophile Raymond Hewlett has told detectives that he saw missing Madeleine McCann twice before she disappeared.
Hewlett (64) had previously denied being near the resort of Praia da Luz in Portugal, from where Madeleine was snatched.
It has been reported that Hewlett told detectives he was so close to the little girl, he was able to see the distinctive marking in her right eye.
Hewlett, who has a string of convictions for sexually assaulting young girls, changed his story while police were questioning him about a 1975 attack on an eight-year-old girl.
His lawyer in Germany now claims Hewlett, who has throat cancer, only has weeks to live.
Police had been trying to interview him about the 1975 assault but could not trace him as he travelled around Europe and Morocco. The paedophile, from Todmorden in England, is known to have hidden in Ireland after assaulting a 14-year-old girl in the 1980s, but was brought back to Britain to face trial.
After his release in 1993, he returned to live in a commune in Donegal but was asked to leave by worried parents.
Now, Hewlett has claimed he was near the Ocean Club holiday complex in Portugal's Praia da Luz while the McCann family was there days before Madeleine disappeared in 2007. Two senior officers from West Yorkshire Police travelled to Germany to interview Hewlett.
"Hewlett said he had seen Madeleine at least twice, and that he had wandered around the complex several times," said one source. He didn't say why he had previously denied ever being near the complex. It is a disturbing development."
Hewlett has refused to speak to Madelaine's family's investigators unless he is paid.