Sight­ing stirs me­mory

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - By BROOKE GAR­DINER

A Wanaka res­i­dent who re­ported a pos­si­ble sight­ing of miss­ing Bri­tish child Madeleine McCann to po­lice sev­eral years ago said she wasn’t sur­prised to hear an­other sight­ing had been re­ported. Queen­stown hit in­ter­na­tional head­lines when a re­tailer sparked a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion on New Year’s Eve af­ter serv­ing a man and a young girl who bore a strik­ing re­sem­blance to the miss­ing young­ster. Madeleine went miss­ing from the Ocean Club com­plex in Praia da Luz, Por­tu­gal, in 2007 just be­fore her fourth birth­day. She was on hol­i­day with her par­ents, Kate and Gerry, and sib­lings Sean and Amelie. De­tec­tive Sergeant Brian Cameron said po­lice had iden­ti­fied the young girl seen in the re­sort and were ‘‘ab­so­lutely sat­is­fied’’ she was not Madeleine. He would not give any de­tails on the child ex­cept to say it was not the first time po­lice had been con­tacted re­gard­ing the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the two girls. Mr Cameron would not dis­close the meth­ods used by po­lice to iden­tify the child. It is not known whether po­lice con­ducted a DNA test. A Wanaka res­i­dent who re­ported a pos­si­ble sight­ing to po­lice about four years ago told The Mir­ror she still be­lieves the young girl she

saw could have been Madeleine. ‘‘It’s brought it all back to me,’’ she said. She con­tacted Wanaka po­lice af­ter be­com­ing sus­pi­cious about the ‘‘weird’’ be­hav­iour of a cou­ple who had a young child with them who bore a strik­ing re­sem­blance to Madeleine. The cou­ple told the woman they had sold up all of their pos­ses­sions and were driv­ing around the coun­try­side stay­ing at out of the way places be­cause they had de­cided to have a change. They came into the woman’s work­place to lodge a claim af­ter dam­ag­ing a ve­hi­cle. ‘‘It was really weird. It was just the three of them but they were trav­el­ling in two dif­fer­ent cars.’’ In or­der to com­plete the claim, the woman had to go out and look at the car and was sur­prised to see a lit­tle girl sit­ting in the back seat. ‘‘She was look­ing down and she didn’t look up at me . . . when I got one of my col­leagues to go out and have a look the man wouldn’t let her any­where near the car.’’ Quite sure the child could be Madeleine, the woman con­tacted po­lice im­me­di­ately. Un­til now, the Wanaka sight­ing has not been re­ported in the me­dia. The woman said she has fol­lowed the case and con­tacted po­lice again two years ago when po­lice ruled out a Dunedin sight­ing. The woman who re­ported the Queen­stown sight­ing said she im­me­di­ately thought of Madeleine when the blonde girl came into her store with a man on New Year’s Eve.

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