Madeleine McCann police find prime suspect’s ‘secret cellar’ in dig at allotment

Police have found a ‘secret cellar’ which belonged to Madeleine McCann’s prime suspect where he lived the year she vanished, it has been reported.

Christian Brueckner lived “off-grid” at the vegetable garden near Hanover, Germany in 2007, locals have claimed.

The convicted sex offender reportedly had no interest in growing vegetables but lounged around drinking beer and told people he was a car mechanic while living in a van.

The gazebo has since been destroyed but German media reports today that police digging up the site have found the cellar and are searching it for evidence about Madeleine’s disappearance.

Wolfgang Kossak, who lives in a neighbouring property, said the search was “ominous”.

He said many of the plots were sub-let and he recalled a stranger who “caused a lot of trouble” visiting the site around 2006 and 2007.

According to local newspaper HAZ, detectives discovered and searched the cellar of a gazebo which had once stood at the garden.

Speaking to MailOnline, Mr Kossak said: “Christian Brueckner had the garden next to mine. He arrived in 2007 and left within a year.

“He told me that he living off the grid, that he had not registered with the authorities – no one knew he was there.

“The building was not really a house, you might call it a shed. But it had a cellar and underneath there would be foundations.”

He said the buildings on Brueckner’s plot of land were demolished in 2008.

 

He added that Brueckner would talk of his preference for southern Europe due to the climate and that the rapist had a VW Transporter van and “parked it next to the allotment and lived in the vehicle”.

Police have said a camper van that was spotted in the Praia da Luz area in early 2007 is vital to their investigation.

Mobile phone records proved Brueckner was in Praia da Luz on the night she disappeared.

German detectives have not said if they are looking for Madeleine’s remains or simply evidence against Brueckner.

German prosecutors have said they believe the missing youngster, who vanished from her Portuguese hotel room in 2007, is dead.

Police in Portugal have also renewed search efforts based on reports that the German suspect stayed in the area in a beat-up RV at the time Madeleine went missing. They have unsuccessfully searched around 30 wells for human remains.

Mr Kossak said that Brueckner disappeared in 2008 and he never saw him again.

German media says he received at least two criminal convictions from a Hanover court, one for forging documents in 2010 and another for theft in 2013.

He split his time between Germany and Portugal from 2013 to 2015, prosecutors in Hanover have said.

Asked by Bild about Brueckner’s connection to the allotment, the suspect’s lawyer Friedrich Fuelscher said he could not comment on the police operation.

Pressed on why the allotment was being searched, Fuelscher told the newspaper that “I think we’ll find out the reason soon”.

Through his lawyer Brueckner, currently imprisoned in Germany for drugs offences, has denied any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance or death.

He has also been convicted of the rape of a 72-year-old woman in Praia da Luz in 2007. He is trying to appeal.

The drugs conviction is due to keep him behind bars until shortly before the end of January next year and, after that, a seven-year jail term for the rape will kick in unless he wins his appeal.