Madeleine McCann suspect 'could have snatched another child', say parents of young girl he allegedly exposed himself to

Jamie Johnson
·3-min read
Christian Brückner  - David Rose
Christian Brückner - David Rose

The German paedophile suspected of abducting Madeleine McCann “could have snatched another child”, say the parents of a young girl he allegedly exposed himself to in 2017.

Christian Brückner was arrested in Portugal for exposing himself at a playground, leaving parents terrified that the convicted sex offender could have gone further and taken their children away in his van. 

The new details of Brückner’s twisted behaviour in the Algarve have once again put the spotlight on Portuguese authorities as to why they did not link the career criminal to the country’s biggest ever missing persons case.

Instead of facing trial in Portugal, he was extradited to Germany on an outstanding arrest warrant for separate child sex abuse charges.

The German drifter, who spent two decades living on and off in Portugal was arrested in 2017 after four children told their parents he had flashed them at a playground in Sao Bartomoleu de Messines, a town less than an hour away from Praia da Luz, where Madeleine went missing ten years before.

Brückner's Winnebago camper van - Collect
Brückner's Winnebago camper van - Collect

Speaking on Portuguese broadcaster RTP’s show ‘Friday at Nine’ one of the parents said: “If he had snatched one of the children and put them in his van, we might never have seen them again.

“He could have gone anywhere. It’s still something that haunts me. I was left feeling very frightened. I think we were very lucky.”

The mother of one of the youngsters in the playground added: “My daughter was eight at the time. He spoke to her in English and asked her, ‘What’s your name?’

“It’s very traumatic knowing that someone who’s been linked to so many cases and is perhaps a very dangerous man was so close to my little girl and spoke to her and could have snatched her or any other child who was there.”

The investigation into the incident was reportedly never followed through because Portuguese officials discovered Brückner was wanted by German police on more serious charges, and he ended up being extradited.

The German was convicted of sexually abusing a child and possession of child pornography and served a 15-month prison sentence in his homeland.

Brückner in the early 1990s, when he fled Germany for Portugal after being convicted of molesting a six-year-old girl at a playground - David Rose
Brückner in the early 1990s, when he fled Germany for Portugal after being convicted of molesting a six-year-old girl at a playground - David Rose

It is the second time that Brückner was extradited for child sex offences, after he fled to Portugal in 1996 following a conviction in Germany for molesting a six-year-old girl when he was just 18.

But in 2007, when Madeleine went missing, Portuguese police insiste they did not know he was a convicted sex offender, only that he had stolen fuel from parked lorries in a nearby town.

Police even knocked on his door in the wake of Madeleine’s disappearance, but Brückner was not at home and they never called again.

Now, some 13 years on, German police have identified Brückner, now 43, as the prime suspect in the McCann case and say that they have evidence that the young girl is dead, and that the convicted paedophile “did the deed”.

He has so far denied these claims, but it is understood that he has not been formally interviewed in connection with the case.

Brückner is currently in prison on drugs charges, and is appealing against a rape conviction for an attack on a 72-year-old American tourist in Praia da Luz in 2005. His hearing is expected in the coming weeks.