Portuguese police search for Madeleine McCann suspect's former girlfriends

Jamie Johnson
Christian Bruckner lived in Praia da Luz with a string of girlfriends

Portuguese police are trying to trace a string of Christian Bruckner’s former girlfriends, including a British woman he was in a relationship with before the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

The 43-year-old was involved with a number women during his 12 years living on the Algarve and detectives are appealing for them to come forward in the hope they will be able to help with the investigation.

Bruckner moved to Portugal in 1995 with his German girlfriend at the time and the pair settled in Lagos, around five miles east of Praia da Luz.

The relationship ended when Bruckner was extradited back to Germany to serve a prison sentence for juvenile offences, but he later returned with another girlfriend and they moved into a secluded rented property in the hamlet of Mount Judeu overlooking the resort from where later Madeleine disappeared.

In 2005 he began a relationship with a British woman who was living in the area and the pair moved in with one another for around a year before breaking up.

Christian Bruckner is currently serving a prison sentence in Germany

The Portuguese police are not sure whether the woman, who has not been named, remained on the Algarve or if she returned to the UK.

In 2006 after splitting with his British girlfriend he moved out of his rented house and began living in a Volkswagen camper van, which he would park at locations up and down the rugged coastline.

It is thought he was living in the camper van in May 2007 when Madeleine was abducted from her parents’ holiday apartment.

Bruckner later returned to Germany and in 2014, while working at a kiosk in Braunschweig, allegedly began a relationship with an “underage Kosovan girl”.

The pair relocated to Praia da Luz and police are keen to trace the girl to check if Bruckner ever mentioned Madeleine during their relationship.

A former neighbour of his in Germany claimed Bruckner was "often very aggressive” towards his girlfriends.

He said: "He was very bad with women. He had a minor friend who came from Kosovo. He always beat them. Once she even had strangle [marks] on her neck.”

According to former acquaintances in Portugal, Bruckner was boastful about his criminal exploits and was also aggressive.

One former girlfriend regularly called police over allegations of domestic violence and police also found indecent images of children on his mobile phone after searching his flat.

Yesterday more details emerged about Bruckner’s time on the Algarve both before and after Madeleine’s disappearance.

Portuguese TV station, SIC, reported that Bruckner sold his camper van for 5,000 Euros in 2015 to a scrapyard in Silves around an hour from Praia da Luz.

Last year detectives working on the Madeleine McCann investigation traced the vehicle to the yard, where it had been stored.

The camper van and Bruckner’s distinctive 1993 British Jaguar, model XJR 6, were later seized and shipped to Germany for analysis.

It is understood both vehicles underwent extensive forensic examination, but have failed to yield any significant clues.

As well as wanting to speak to his various girlfriends, police are also trying to identify the owners of two mobile phone numbers who Bruckner spoke to on the night of Madeleine’s disappearance.

Yesterday Portuguese media reported that one of the numbers was linked to a local bar manager who had worked in the area in the catering business back in 2007.

But the Telegraph contacted the family of the man, who denied ever knowing Bruckner and insisted he did not recognise the mobile phone number.

Last night, it also emerged that the house where Bruckner raped a 72-year-old American woman is a luxury beachfront villa in Praia da Luz.

Breuckner attacked the tourist in 2005, but was only charged and convicted in 2019.

The villa, which has a large pool, a roof terrace and multiple CCTV cameras is available to rent for nearly £800 a night.

Last night, Portuguese police sought to deflect criticism of their original investigation amid allegations Brueckner had slipped through their net. 

Carlos Farinha, the deputy director of the Portuguese Policia Judiciaria, told the Lusa news agency that the German's names had been passed to British investigators in a 2012 case file, adding: “If the suspicions about this man were so obvious, he would have been the subject of requests made by the British."