Appeal response thrills McCanns

By Martin Evans in London

Nearly 1000 people contact police with information including name of man in pictures and possible leads

Members of the public were shown computer generated images of a man police believe may have been the abductor.
Members of the public were shown computer generated images of a man police believe may have been the abductor.

Kate and Gerry McCann have said they are absolutely delighted after a Crimewatch appeal to find their missing daughter generated almost 1000 calls, including from several people who gave the same name for a suspect whose picture was shown.

Detectives from Scotland Yard's Operation Grange investigating Madeleine's disappearance welcomed the "overwhelming" response from viewers of the televised appeal and said they were trawling through several potential leads.

The programme featured a new reconstruction of the hours leading up to the 3-year-old's abduction from the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007.

For the first time, members of the public were shown two computer generated images of a man police believe may have been the abductor. He was seen by an Irish family walking towards the beach carrying a child around Madeleine's age.

Within minutes of the appeal going out on the BBC, several viewers contacted the studio giving the same name for the potential suspect.

The McCanns said: "We are absolutely delighted with the overwhelming public response to Crimewatch. We know that the public desperately want to help the search for Madeleine. We are genuinely hopeful that one or more of these responses will lead to a major breakthrough in the investigation."

They added: "If anyone was in Praia da Luz around the time of Madeleine's abduction and has not spoken to the Metropolitan Police, or if they know who any of the [pictures] might be, please have the courage to come forward and speak to the police in confidence."

Joe Mather, the editor of Crimewatch, said that the response was unprecedented and that there were lots of calls from British people who were in Praia da Luz at the time but had not previously contacted police.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, the Metropolitan Police officer who is leading the investigation, said: "We have now had over 730 calls and 212 emails as a direct result of the specific lines of inquiry we issued yesterday concerning events in the lead-up to, and on the night of, Thursday, May 3, 2007 when Madeleine was abducted."

He added: "The Metropolitan Police Service is offering a reward of up to 20,000 ($38,000) for information leading to the identification, arrest and prosecution of the person or persons responsible for the abduction of Madeleine McCann."

A similar television appeal was shown in Holland yesterday and will be broadcast in Germany today in the hope of generating a response from European holidaymakers in the Algarve six years ago.

Detectives from Scotland Yard earlier said they had a "revelation moment" after establishing that Madeleine could have been abducted up to 45 minutes later than previously thought.

Having begun a fresh investigation into her disappearance a few months ago, they established that a previous suspect was innocent.

Jane Tanner, a friend of the McCanns who was dining with them on the night Madeleine disappeared, described seeing a man carrying a child close to the couple's apartment at 9.15pm.

But police managed to find the man and establish that he was a British father who had been carrying his daughter home from a night-time creche.

This has led to the focus on the man seen by the Irish family near the centre of Praia da Luz around 10pm. The Met team has also identified a number of sightings of men acting suspiciously.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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