Madeleine McCann investigation: detectives release two e-fit images of new suspect on BBC’s Crimewatch
The man who may hold vital clues to what happened to missing Madeleine McCann
Detectives investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann are asking for the public's help to identify a man in an appeal they say is of “vital importance”.
Two e-fit images, believed to be of the same man, have been drawn up based on statements and descriptions from two different witnesses who saw this man in the Praia da Luz town area.
The sightings are from the evening of Thursday, May 3, 2007 — the night Madeleine went missing.
The images will feature on the BBC’s Crimewatch tonight at 9pm.
Work by detectives has given them a far greater understanding of the times when the abduction could have taken place and this has made the statements from the two witnesses far more significant, Scotland Yard said.
One of the main priorities for the investigation is being able to identify the man who is being described, police added.
The witnesses have described the man in the e-fit as being white, aged between 20-40 years old, with short brown hair, of medium build, medium height and clean shaven.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, the senior investigating officer, said that while this is far from being the only line of inquiry, it is critical.
“Whilst this man may or may not be the key to unlocking this investigation, tracing and speaking to him is of vital importance to us.
“We have witnesses placing him in the resort area around the time of Madeleine's disappearance.
“This is far from our only line of inquiry and there will be e-fits released of other sightings as well, who we are equally keen to trace. These people were seen on the day of Madeleine's disappearance and the days leading up to it,” he said.
He added that detectives have been able to “make massive steps forward” by drawing together all the material gathered to date and reviewing it as a whole.
“We continue to put Madeleine at the heart of our investigation and I would urge people to watch Crimewatch tonight and if you can help identify this man or have any information about our new appeal points please contact us.
“Praia da Luz is a popular holiday destination for many nationalities so our requests for help need to be repeated in many different countries. I will be travelling to Holland, Germany and Ireland.
“If you were in and around the Praia da Luz resort on Thursday, 3 May 2007, but you have not yet spoken to police, and you think you may have information, please pass it on.
“I would also like to ask for the help of the local community in Praia da Luz. Portugal is a key country for us to trace any outstanding witnesses and our appeals will be repeated there.
“We still have a lot of material to investigate and much work to do.
"I hope that when the public see our investigative strands drawn together within the overall context of that appeal, it will bring in new information that moves our investigation forward."
The full reconstruction lasts 25 minutes. A short clip has been released ahead of the broadcast showing a reconstructed scene of Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry playing tennis.
Madeleine, dressed in pink shorts, a light pink T-shirt and pink hat, then runs across the court, clutching a batch of tennis balls.
In another clip, the McCanns are asked how often they think of their daughter, who went missing when she was three years old on May 3 2007 from a holiday apartment as her parents dined at a nearby tapas restaurant with friends.
Gerry McCann says: "When it's a special occasion, when you should be your happiest and Madeleine's not there, that's when it really hits home.
"Obviously, Madeleine's birthday goes without saying."
Mrs McCann adds: "It's when you have big family occasions really. That's it isn't it? 'Family occasion' and you haven't got your complete family."
In the programme the McCanns speak to presenter Kirsty Young live in the studio while presenter Matthew Amroliwala has been to Praia da Luz to explore the new focus of the police investigation.
DCI Andy Redwood, discusses how the police have approached the inquiry, saying: "Primarily what we sought to do from the beginning is try and draw everything back to zero if you like. Try and take everything back to the beginning and re-analyse and reassess everything, accepting nothing."
He adds: "The careful and critical analysis of the timeline has been absolutely key.
"Primarily, we're focused on the area between 8.30 and 10.
"We know at 8.30 that was the time Mr and Mrs McCann went down to the tapas area for their dinner and we know that around at 10pm that was when Mrs McCann found that Madeleine was missing."
An incident room will be staffed during tomorrow's appeal and the days that follow, when the appeal moves to Holland and Germany.
Scotland Yard detectives, who have interviewed 442 people as part of their review-turned-investigation, hope to track down as many people present in the Portuguese town at the time.
Since launching its own investigation, 41 people of interest have been identified by the Metropolitan Police, including 15 UK nationals.
Detectives have issued 31 international letters of request (ILOR) to mostly European countries in relation to some of the persons of interest as well as accessing phone records.
A large but "manageable" list of phone numbers identified as being present in Praia da Luz - though not necessarily used to make phone calls - has been drawn up by detectives with a "significant" number unattributed to any named person.