Police are reportedly investigating a late paedophile who boasted on his deathbed that he knew what happened to missing toddler Madeleine McCann.
Scotland Yard investigators reviewing the case want to speak to a couple who befriended Raymond Hewlett while they were on holiday in Portugal at the time of the little girl's disappearance.
Alan and Cindy Thompson were at the time unaware of Hewlett's past, which includes a string of child sex convictions and three jail terms.
Madeleine McCann vanished in 2007 from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz
They told The Mirror the former soldier, who died of throat cancer in 2010, claimed he had been approached by gypsies who said they wanted to buy one of his six children.
The Thompsons added Hewlett later claimed he had been to Morocco to sell something, but refused to elaborate further than admitting it had been "a good business trip and he made a profit."
When the couple contacted him in 2009 to ask about Madeleine's disappearance and his trip he replied sarcastically: "Yes, so? That makes me guilty then? In Morocco, everything's worth something. You can get 23 euros for an old bike."
There have been numerous reported sightings of Madeleine in the north African country. In 2007 photos of a blonde child being carried in a sling by a woman in Morocco prompted excited speculation she had been found.
Convicted paedophile Raymond Hewlett died of throat cancer in 2010
It quickly emerged the little girl - named Bushra Binhisa - was the daughter of an olive farmer of Berber extraction.
In July a British woman spotted a youngster “bearing a remarkable likeness to Madeleine” at a market in the northern Indian town of Leh.
There have also been reported sightings in Portugal, Belgium and France, but none have produced any firm leads.
The Mirror also quotes Peter Verran, 46, who also stayed on the same campsite as Hewlett between June and November 2007.
He said: "[Hewlett] told me gypsies wanted to pay good money for his daughter and he'd met some who traded in children and sold them to paedophiles."
A Scotland Yard spokesman told the paper: "We are not prepared to discuss any particular lines of enquiry."
In 2009 Hewlett back-tracked on his initial claims that he had never been near the holiday complex Madeleine went missing from, and claimed he had seen her twice before she vanished.
The 64-year-old said he had been so close to her he could see the distinctive flaw in her right eye, The Sun reported.
The paper added Hewlett had refused to speak to private investigators hired by parents Gerry and Kate McCann, but later claimed he would - if he was paid. The request was refused by the family. A source said: "He always wriggled out of it, saying he was too sick to see them. He was never eliminated from the inquiry.”
Upon his death in 2010, he wrote to his estranged son Wayne to deny having anything to do with Madeleine's abduction, but said he knew she had been "stolen to order by a gypsy gang who kidnap children for wealthy couples unable to have kids or adopt."
Madeleine was nearly four-years-old when she vanished in 2007 from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz as her parents dined with friends at a tapas bar nearby.
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