- Police officer owns a house next door to property where suspect worked following Maddie's disappearance
- It was claimed Portuguese police ignored pleas to dig up land around secluded villa
- Revelations about German suspect's past emerged in investigation aired by RTP
A Scotland Yard detective who lived next door to Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner is working with Portuguese police to find the missing three-year-old, it was sensationally claimed today.
The British police officer owns a house next door to a property where the German paedophile worked following the youngster's disappearance, the drifter's former Algarve bosses say.
The revelation emerged as it was claimed Portuguese police ignored pleas to dig up the land around the secluded villa in Foral 30 miles from Praia da Luz.
His former employer said she suspected Brueckner had killed Madeleine and told police he could have buried her body there.
Portuguese officials are also facing fresh questions over their failure to stop the serial offender sooner, after angry parents revealed he had escaped trial in the Algarve despite exposing himself to four young children in a playground while he was on the run from German police for a separate sex crime.
One of the parents fought back tears in an interview last night as she admitted: '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.'
Nelia Bras, mum of one of the youngsters Brueckner allegedly pleasured himself in front of, 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 series of new revelations about the German paedophile and his criminal past emerged in a half-hour investigation aired by Portuguese TV broadcaster RTP.
Presenter Sandra Felgueiras interviewed a couple who spent three months living with Brueckner in Foral in 2016 and gave him work.
She also talked to Portuguese parents whose children were allegedly targeted by the 43-year-old in nearby San Bartolome de Messines three years ago.
Brueckner never stood trial because police called to the park discovered he was wanted by German police for child sex abuse and possession of child pornography and he ended up being extradited.
The villa Oliver and Karin Stenard shared with the man German prosecutors believe abducted and murdered Madeleine McCann was isolated Villa Bianca, the same property he spent time at in 2007 with fellow German Nicole Fehlinger when it was used as a refuge for troubled children.
The couple revealed Brueckner had admitted to being Nicole's boyfriend before she left Portugal to return to Germany in 2009.
Austrian-born Oliver told RTP programme Sexta as 9 he had to call police after 'alcoholic' Brueckner broke his nose in a September 22 2016 assault - but revealed he was allowed to walk away without charge after cops failed to spot a European arrest warrant was already out for his arrest for the German sex crime.
He added in a bombshell revelation about the British detective: 'The next door neighbour is an English policeman from Scotland Yard.
'He's working for Scotland Yard together with the Portuguese police. He was the neighbour at the time.'
Wife Karin, admitting that like her husband she knew he had a criminal past but never suspected he was a paedophile, added: 'Christian Brueckner was living in the house in Foral when Madeleine McCann disappeared.
'Foral is a big area and there was no-one around at the time.
'I say he killed her and there was a lot of space to bury her. I think her body may be buried there and I told the police that.'
She revealed how she asked Oliver to stop Brueckner looking after their sheep as part of the work he did for them at the rented property they shared from July to September 2016.
She sadded: 'When he was working for us as a gardener and handyman he also had to feed the sheep with hay in the morning.
'One morning I saw him chasing the sheep and one in particular called Wolflie.
'I shouted to him and he stopped but when I said I had seen him chasing the animal he claimed he was just trying to stroke it.
'I told him I thought he was giving me bulls##t and I had seen he was chasing behind it with my own eyes. I don't know what he was trying to do. I was thinking he was drunk. I told Oliver afterwards that I didn't want him feeding the sheep anymore because I didn't like what I saw.'
The couple met the new Maddie McCann suspect through fellow German Bernhard Piro, the owner of a breaker's yard where police seized a VW camper van the drifter used who they described as a 'good friend' of Christian.
The failure by GNR cops to check Brueckner out properly after Karin called them following his fight with her husband led to him dodging arrest because they didn't discover a European Arrest Warrant had been logged 10 days earlier for the German sex offence.
He remained a free man, and was still at large nine months earlier when he allegedly exposed himself in front of the group of young children aged eight to 12 in a nearby park.
He claimed after he was caught he was just trying to have a pee, even though he was only a few feet away from a public toilet and had his trousers pulled down under a children's slide.
Police did proper checks that night and discovered he was a wanted man.
The investigation into the flashing incident reportedly ended up being mothballed following Brueckner's extradition.
Carlos Cunha, whose child was among the kids caught up in the disturbing incident, said: 'He didn't really react from the very beginning after he was caught.
'I only found out afterwards who he was or is supposed to be.'
Wife Elsa added: 'He seemed very calm. I can picture his face. He looked very odd.'
Another mum told the Portuguese TV programme: 'My daughter was left feeling very frightened. She knows who this man is now.'