Daily Mail

Our road trip in Maddie suspect’s van

Drifter gave travellers a lift in old VW that may have been used in abduction

- From Andy Dolan in Hanover

THE drifter at the centre of the Madeleine McCann investigat­ion was filmed at the wheel of a campervan which police believe could have been used to kidnap the threeyear-old a few weeks later.

In the footage, Brueckner is seen laughing and joking during a threehour road trip across Spain in his rusting VW Westfalia.

Brueckner, now 43, had volunteere­d to drive three young German travellers and appeared happy to pose for the group.

One of his passengers, called Tomas, said he was horrified when he realised the man who had given him a lift 13 years ago was the main suspect in the disappeara­nce of Madeleine.

‘It makes me sick to think that the little girl could have been taken away in the same van a month later,’ he said.

The footage emerged as Brueckner’s lawyer yesterday described a two-day allotment dig this week by German police investigat­ing Madeleine’s murder as a ‘desperate act’.

The campervan video was shot on March 30, 2007, five weeks before Madeleine was taken from her Portuguese holiday home in Praia da Luz.

British detectives believe that at the time of her disappeara­nce on May 3 that year, Brueckner was living out of the campervan in the resort town.

He was publicly linked to the case after police said their prime suspect had been using a VW T3 Westfalia and also a dark red Jaguar XJR 6 in 2007, either of which could have been used in the abduction.

In the video, exclusivel­y obtained by Mail Online, Brueckner can be seen studying a map in the rear of the campervan and giving a ‘peace’ sign.

He also posed for pictures. Tomas added: ‘He seemed like any other ordinary young man. He joked a lot and was happy to give us a ride. He didn’t mind us filming him and taking his pictures.’

Describing his shock at learning he had once enjoyed a road trip with a man he called a ‘monster’, Tomas added: ‘Of course, we don’t know if he took Maddie.

‘That is all up to the detectives to prove. But they are serious about him.’ The suspect drove the group 175 miles to Vera, Almeria.

In 2007 he returned to live in Germany but regularly went back to the Algarve.

Police in Germany this week dug up an allotment just outside Hanover, cellar beneath where the they foundation­s found a small of a demolished summer house used by Brueckner. A second secret cellar 40 miles away is also being investigat­ed. Neighbours said he leased the plot 2007 and for around 2011. Brueckner’s a year between lawyer, Friedrich Fulscher, dismissed the search as a ‘pure desperate act’. His client is in jail in the city of Kiel for drugs offences – a sentence due to expire in January.

 ??  ?? Along for the ride: Brueckner with the Germans, whose identities have been obscured
Along for the ride: Brueckner with the Germans, whose identities have been obscured
 ??  ?? Spanish journey: The battered VW
Spanish journey: The battered VW

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