The main suspect in the Madeleine McCann case twice slipped through the net of Portuguese investigators, court documents and witness testimony suggest.
Christian B, as the German drifter is known, has been revealed as the prime suspect being investigated by a German prosecutor who believes Madeleine is dead.
Court documents from the suspect’s conviction for fuel theft in the Algarve in 2006, a year before Madeleine vanished, reveal that he hid his paedophile past.
Asked by a judge to list his previous crimes, he admitted to a conviction for sex abuse in Germany when he was a juvenile, but didn’t reveal his victim was a young girl.
The court stenographer recorded: “When he was 17 years old he was convicted in Germany for burglaries and sex crimes.”
Serafim Vieira, the Portuguese lawyer who defended him in a Portimao court, said: “He didn’t tell the judge it was a paedophile crime and the judge was not obliged to ask for the German police files or investigate it.
“The crime was more than ten years earlier and had no bearing on the theft crime he had just admitted.”
It meant that Christian B wasn’t registered in Portuguese police files as a paedophile and was not among the dozens of known paedophiles who were questioned as potential suspects when Madeleine vanished.
Mr Vieira said: “Everyone is blaming the Portuguese police, but you should ask the German authorities if they sent a list of all the German paedophiles living in Portugal.”
Christian B was kept in jail on remand for eight months before he was fined with a friend for stealing 300 litres of diesel fuel from two trucks.
A social worker’s assessment of him in the court documents reads: “He has an unstable past with no family roots and he is a loner. He has an errant past.”
Five months after he was freed, Madeleine vanished from her family’s rented apartment in Praia da Luz, in the Algarve, in May 2007.
Ten years later, Christian B is suggested to have slipped through the net again after he allegedly spent his last day of freedom in Portugal exposing himself to two young girls in a children’s playground.
He was caught squatting under a slide with his trousers down, a mother revealed.
She said he spoke to one of the girls, who was aged eight at the time, and said: “Hey, you, what’s your name?”
Young mother Nelia Bras, who had organised a fashion festival in the village of Sao Bartolomeu de Messines, said: “To think that a man with such a dangerous history was here in this quiet familiar town. He could have grabbed one of the girls.
“There were hundreds of people around and we were sitting near the playground having dinner when the girls ran over said there was a man exposing himself.
“We went running to see what was happening, but other parents had already grabbed the man and pushed him up against a wall.
“He claimed he was just having a pee.”
Police were called and arrested the man in June 2017 because he was drunk and refused to identify himself, said Mrs Bras.
She was later told he wasn’t charged but instead was deported to Germany where he served an outstanding jail sentence for child sex crimes.
Mrs Bras said she and other parents never knew the flasher’s identity until last month when Christian B was revealed as the new suspect for the abduction of Madeleine, who had disappeared 30 miles away.
She said: “We just thought this was a drunk man acting the fool, but then he appeared on television recently and one parent recognised him and it was confirmed it was the same man.
“For a long time the girls had forgotten about it, but some days after he was on television they realised it was Christian and some of them have been crying because of the thought they could have been taken away.
“It is very worrying.”
The fact that Christian B was deported meant Portuguese police did not identify him as a potential suspect for the abduction of Madeleine ten years earlier.
It was only this year that he was revealed as the prime suspect being investigated by a German prosecutor over Madeleine’s disappearance.
The prosecutor has said there is a strong circumstantial case against Christian B, but not enough vital evidence to charge him.
Christian B is currently in a German jail serving the last few months of a drugs sentence and a seven-year sentence for rape.
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