UK couple claim to have seen Maddy McCann
Published 29/09/2008 | 09:18
Police in Spain have been searching the holiday island of Majorca for missing toddler Madeleine McCann, after a British couple claimed to have seen her on a beach.
Detectives were scouring hotels and holiday apartments over the weekend for two dark-haired women seen with a young blonde girl matching Maddy's description.
The holidaying couple were convinced they saw the missing child with the two women at the Cala d'Or, in the south east of the island, last Sunday morning.
But they did not report the possible sighting to police for three days.
A police source said: "The couple's account was detailed and there were no contradictions in their statements.
"However, we are aware of the numerous previous sightings all over the world that have turned out to be false and it could well be that the couple have made an honest mistake.
"The couple believe they saw the girl last Sunday and at first, attempted to contact the McCanns through the internet.
"They reported the incident to us on Wednesday, after seeing a missing persons poster with Madeleine's photograph on it."
The British couple, who are in their 50s, were on a two-week holiday and had arrived on September 11.
They were enjoying a morning at Cala Gran beach when they spotted a pale blonde girl under a parasol.
The couple were suspicious because the two women she was with had dark hair and did not look like they were related to the girl.The toddler was colouring in a book on her own and was wearing sunglasses.
A member of staff at the hotel said: "The couple noticed her similarity to Maddy and tried to get closer, but because of the sunglasses couldn't see if she had Madeleine's distinctive eye.
"The woman is very religious and was praying a lot because she did not know what to do.
"On Wednesday, one of the staff took her to the police and acted as a translator while the couple gave their statement."
The couple flew back to Manchester on Thursday.
Police have been to hotels and holiday apartments in Cala d'Or and nearby Cala Egos and Cala Ferrera.
Madeleine was days short of her fourth birthday when she disappeared from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, in southern Portugal in May 2007.
Private detectives from Spanish firm Metodo 3 may travel to Majorca to investigate the sighting. The Barcelona-based firm was paid£50,000-a-month until their involvement was scaled down late last year.
British firm Oakley International took over the search, funded by the McCanns' millionaire friend Brian Kennedy.