NZ Madeleine 'sighting' ignored

A reported sighting of missing British girl Madeleine McCann in Dunedin was disregarded by Portuguese police, it emerged yesterday.

The CCTV footage was taken at The Warehouse in South Dunedin in December 2007, seven months after her disappearance.

But files released by Portuguese courts revealed the potential sighting was among a number of reports that were ignored.

The 4-year-old disappeared from her hotel in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in May 2007, during a family holiday.

The file on the Dunedin sighting was forwarded to Interpol, with the lead jurisdiction given to Portuguese authorities.

However, no request for follow-ups had been made to New Zealand police, acting Southern District commander Inspector Dave Campbell said.

Madeleine's parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, were at a restaurant less than 74m away.

Police confirmed last night the footage was taken at the store on December 5, 2007, about 9pm.

A Warehouse spokeswoman confirmed a staff member had reported a sighting of a girl believed to be Madeleine, but declined to comment further.

Mr Campbell said police had spoken to the female security officer, who had become suspicious of a customer accompanying the young girl.

The overweight man was joined by a woman and older boy, he said.

Police had worked with the retailer on the case, and the file "has remained open ever since".

According to the file, released to several British newspapers, the security officer approached the girl and asked if she was British.

The girl replied her name was "Hailey" but, unconvinced, the guard contacted police, who launched an inquiry.

Mr Campbell said the informant told them the woman and girl spoke with a British accent.

He confirmed police had several photos, but declined to release them to the media. The photos are believed to include a clear picture of the man.

The formal case is now closed as far as Portuguese authorities are concerned. The McCanns have hired private investigators to continue investigating their daughter's disappearance.

- OTAGO DAILY TIMES

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a4 at 02 Aug 2014 01:14:42 Processing Time: 496ms