German police probing convicted paedophile Christian Brueckner, who was officially named as a suspect in the three-year-old’s disappearance in April 2022, reportedly have until the new year to find a new lead before their investigation falls through.
A source close to the investigation told The Sun: ‘The next few weeks are make or break for the detectives investigating Christian B.
‘Publicly they are saying they remain convinced he is linked to Maddie’s disappearance… but, privately, the case is close to collapsing.’
Brueckner is yet to be formally charged by police but was named as a suspect after his campervan was reportedly spotted near the Praia da Luz resort in Portugal where Maddie vanished from in May 2007.
Madeleine McCann vanished from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on Portugal’s Algarve coast in May 2007
Christian Brueckner was named last year by prosecutors as the key suspect in the disappearance and murder of the three-year-old
The police’s case is largely centred around his former friend Helge Busching’s testimony that Brueckner chillingly told him when they were discussing Madeleine’s disappearance that ‘she didn’t scream’.
The source told The Sun that the case is now in jeopardy as there are ‘no new leads’ and their primary witness Busching ‘has totally gone offside’.
The source said: ‘Helge B hasn’t been supporting detectives for a long time, and there is a huge black shadow over everything he’s told them up until this point.
‘The reality is that without a fresh lead or a change in the direction of the investigation the probe into Christian B will be dead in the water by the New Year.
‘The clock is ticking and what makes things even harder is the fact that relations between the German cops and Portuguese officers are at an all time low.’
In September it was reported that Busching was ‘wobbling’ and was on the verge of withdrawing his evidence in the investigation.
Sources claimed German officers were warned of Mr Busching’s ‘flakiness’, with one revealing he had even earned the nickname ‘Helge Bulls***ter’ amongst Portuguese officers, according to The Sun.
Mr Busching gave Brueckner’s name to British police in 2017, around the 10th anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance.
Busching claims that Brueckner told him at a Spanish kite festival in 2008 that he was involved in Madeleine’s abduction from Praia da Luz a year earlier.
When asked in 2020 what he thought of Brueckner, Busching said: ‘One word. Guilty.’
Busching, who now lives on the French island of Corsica, added: ‘He is in the right place at the moment and hopefully he will stay there a long time’.
A map shows the movements of Brueckner around the Algarve at the time Madeleine disappeared while on a family holiday
A police search team walk on the shore of the Arade dam near Silves, Portugal, in May 2023
Authorities gather at a makeshift base camp in the Arade dam area, Faro district, during the search operation in Silves, Portugal, 25 May 2023
The operation, which began on 23 May, stemmed from a European Investigation Order addressed by the German authorities to Portugal and focused on the Arade dam
Convicted rapist and paedophile Brueckner, 46, is currently serving a seven-year jail sentence in Germany for raping a 72-year-old woman in Praia da Luz, Portugal in 2005.
According to the Spain-based Olive Press newspaper, he is now likely to appear next February at Braunschweig High Court for his involvement in multiple – separate -crimes.
The trial, expected to span over a month, could spell a lifetime behind bars for the German due to the severity of the charges against him.
Christian Brueckner was officially named as a suspect in April 2022 after his yellow and white VW T3 Westfalia campervan was reportedly spotted near the Praia da Luz resort in Portugal where Maddie vanished.
Brueckner has denied he was in the area at the time and distanced himself from the allegations against him.
But German prosecutors say phone logs show he received a call on May 3 2007 near the Ocean Club. Brueckner maintains that he was miles away with a young woman.
Earlier this week it was revealed that Brueckner may have taken photos of Madeleine McCann and buried them in an underground hideaway in the Algarve, near the town of Silves.
Police scoured the location near Silves that Brueckner reportedly called his ‘little paradise’ in May this year in the hope of finding clues that would bring them closer to finding Madeleine.
A source told The Sun last month: ‘[Authorities investigating] now know Christian B buried data carriers like hard drives and USB sticks at any of the places where he’s stayed so that was their real hope at the lake.’
‘They really thought they might find pictures there, but they are not giving up hope. They believe he made duplicates because he loved to keep them like trophies.’
Madeleine was snatched just nine days before her fourth birthday while she was left sleeping alone with her younger twin siblings
It was the first major operation of its kind since June 2014 when British police were given permission to dig in Praia da Luz using sniffer dogs trained in detecting bodies and ground-penetrating radar.
Portuguese broadcaster SIC reported that German police sought permission to search the dam in an official judicial request to Portugal after concluding it was ‘an area of interest’. The prompt for the search was not initially given.
Brueckner remains the sole significant suspect in the case since 2007.
Madeleine’s family kept the investigation open with private detectives until Scotland Yard opened its own enquiry in 2011.
Nine years later, police in Braunschweig, northern Germany, identified a convicted paedophile and German national as a new suspect.
In 2021, prosecutors said they were ‘100% sure’ that they had the right man.
German prosecutor Hans Wolters said evidence included phone analysis placing him at the Ocean Club resort the family was staying at when Madeleine went missing and an alleged confession Brueckner made to a friend.
In April, it was reported Christian Brueckner may not face charges in Germany over Madeleine’s disappearance after a court ruled prosecutors had no jurisdiction to pursue a case against him, however.