Detectives investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have ruled out a key sighting by an Exeter woman on the day she vanished and are trying to identify a number of mysterious men seen lurking around the apartment where it is believed she was abducted.
Officers from Scotland Yard now say that a man seen carrying a child by the McCanns’ friend Jane Tanner was an innocent British holiday maker, and are instead focusing on another man with dark hair who was also seen with a little girl in his arms around 45 minutes later.
Ms Tanner from Exeter and Dr Russell O'Brien from the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital were with the couple at the time.
Investigators are looking at a spate of break-ins in the area, one of which happened a year before Madeleine went missing, where a man got into a flat where young children were sleeping.
Madeleine vanished on May 3, 2007, from a holiday apartment in Praia de Luz, Portugal, as her parents dined at a nearby tapas restaurant with friends.
Speaking after a new appeal aired on BBC Crimewatch, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said: “Our focus in terms of understanding what happened on the night of May 3 has now given us a shift of emphasis. We are almost certain that the man seen by Jane Tanner is not Madeleine’s abductor.
“It takes us through to a position at 10pm when we see another man who is walking towards the ocean, close by to the apartment, with a young child in his arms. This child is described as being about three to four years of age with blonde hair, possibly wearing pyjamas, and the man is a white man with dark hair.”
Investigators are also trying to identify fair-haired men seen near the apartment.