The new suspect in the Madeleine McCann case was given up by his mother at birth and began abusing children as a teenager when he molested a six-year-old in a public playground, it was revealed today.
Christian Brueckner was 17 in 1994 when he attacked the little girl in his home town of Wurzburg, Bavaria – and he only stopped groping her when she started screaming and crying.
But he is also said to have ‘dropped his trousers’ at a nine-year-old boy before fleeing the scene, according to German tabloid Bild.
Born in Bavaria in 1976, he was born Christian Fischer but was given up by his birth mother and placed in a children’s home in Wuerzburg and was adopted by the Brueckner family as a baby, taking their name.
But he descended into a life of crime as a young teenager, and was convicted of his first burglary in his home town of Wurzburg in 1992, when he was 15.
Within two years, the warped teenager had progressed to sexually abusing a child, with the playground attack earning him a two-year youth sentence, of which he served only a part.
Christian Brueckner, pictured with a friend in 2011, was adopted as a baby after being given up by his birth mother and began abusing children as a teenager
As a young man, Brueckner had dreamed of emigrating with his girlfriend of the time, and when he turned 18 – with a fresh driver’s license, and a series of court hearings still pending – he took off to Portugal with his German girlfriend, and the Algarve town of Lagos, said Germany’s Bild newspaper, which quoted him as having said: ‘We didn’t know anything about Portugal. We went to Lagos because we liked the name so much. We had a tent with us and camped in the wild.’
What do we know about Maddie murder suspect Christian Brueckner and his criminal past?
1976: Christian Brueckner is born in Würzburg under a different name, believed to be Fischer. He was adopted by the Brueckner family and took their surname.
1992: Christian Brueckner is arrested on suspicion of burglary in his hometown of Wurzburg, Bavaria.
1994: He is given a two-year youth jail sentence for ‘abusing a child’ and ‘performing sex acts in front of a child’.
1995: Brueckner arrives in Portugal as an 18-year-old backpacker and begins working in catering in the seaside resorts of Lagos and Praia da Luz.
But friends say he became involved with a criminal syndicate trafficking drugs into the Algarve.
September 2005: He dons a mask and breaks into an apartment where a 72-year-old American tourist.
The victim was bound, gagged, blindfolded and whipped with a metal cane before being raped for 15 minutes. She said afterwards that he had clearly enjoyed ‘torturing’ her before the rape.
April 2007: He moves out of a farmhouse and into a campervan now linked to the crime. The farmhouse is cleaned and a bag of wigs and ‘exotic clothes’ is found.
May 3, 2007: Madeleine McCann is snatched at around 10pm from her bed as her parents eat tapas with friends yards away.
Brueckner’s mobile phone places him in the area that night. He returns to his native Germany shortly after that.
October 2011: He is sentenced to 21 months for ‘dealing narcotics’ in Niebüll, in northern Germany.
In 2013 police released a photofit of a man seen lurking near the McCann apartment and Scotland Yard said that suspect last night had not yet been ruled out of the probe
2014: He moves to Braunschweig where he starts running a town-centre kiosk. He then goes back to Portugal with a girlfriend.
2016: He is back in Germany. He is given 15 months in prison for ‘sexual abuse of a child in the act of creating and possessing child pornographic material’.
May 3, 2017: Brueckner is said to be in a bar with a friend when a ten-year anniversary appeal following Madeleine’s disappearance is shown on German television.
He is said to have told him in a bar that he ‘knew all about’ what happened to her. He then showed his friend a video of him raping a woman.
MailOnline understands the friend went to police shortly afterwards.
June 2017: He heads back to Portugal and extradited again to Germany. The reason was a sentencing of the Braunschweig district court to 15 months’ imprisonment for the sexual abuse of a child.
August 2018: After his release from prison he lives on the streets. But he was jailed again for drug offences.
First Prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters addresses the media during a press conference on the Madeleine McCann case at the public prosecutor’s office in Braunschweig
September 2018: Brueckner is arrested in Milan, Italy and extradited to Germany and put on trial for raping the American tourist in 2007 after a DNA match to hair found at the crime scene.
July 2019: He is jailed for 21 months for drug dealing in the northern German resort of Sylt.
August 2019: Brueckner is charged with the rape of the American tourist in Praia da Luz in 2005.
December 2019: He is convicted of rape of extortion of the tourist based on DNA evidence. He is given a seven year sentence, but this has not been imposed pending an appeal.
June 3, 2020: Scotland Yard and the German police reveal that that they have identified a suspect in the Maddie McCann case
June 4, 2020: Prosecutors in Braunschweig, where he lives, say they believe Madeleine McCann has been murdered, says spokesman Hans Christian Wolters. He is named in the German press as the prime suspect.
He eventually settled in Praia da Luz, the picturesque resort where the McCanns chose to take their three children on holiday.
For 12 years he lived there, telling family he was working as a caterer and odd-job man, when in fact he was dealing cannabis, trafficking drugs and burgling holiday homes and hotel rooms.
He was briefly locked up for diesel theft, and is also said to have traded passports and stolen goods.
He lived in Praia da Luz in a somewhat dilapidated and remote house accessed by a dirt road. ‘In terms of furnishings, it was a typical bachelor’s apartment,’ said one acquaintance.
After a decade on the Algarve, perverted 6-foot Brueckner burgled a 72-year-old American widow – and subjected her to a hideous sexual assault.
He broke into her villa near Praia da Luz brandishing a 30cm ‘sabre’, according to evidence at a court that eventually convicted him.
He beat her, tied her up, gagged and blindfolded her, before carrying out a degrading rape which he videotaped, the court in Braunschweig, Germany, heard. On the video, he finished by ripping off his own mask, a witness told the court.
His victim told investigators: ‘I felt that he enjoyed torturing me.’ At the time, Brueckner lived in a rented whitewashed villa on a remote hillside along a footpath that runs from above the beach where Madeleine and her family played during their week’s holiday.
Neighbours described him as an ‘angry’ car dealer, who sped along country roads, and saying that when he vanished he left a collection of wigs, fancy dress and exotic clothing.
Brueckner left Portugal after Madeline disappeared on May 3, 2007. The previous month, he had moved out of the villa and into a VW Westfalia campervan which police have now linked to Madeleine’s disappearance.
He also kept his prized 1993 Jaguar XJR6 with its German number plate. Yet the day after she vanished, he re-registered the classic British car to another person, although he was still driving it, Scotland Yard has said.
Back in Germany, rather than keeping his head down, Brueckner continued stealing and drug dealing. By October 2011, the district court in Niebüll, Schleswig-Holstein, in northern Germany, had sentenced him to ‘imprisonment of narcotics in large quantities’ for one year and nine months. The sentence was initially suspended.
By 2014, Brueckner was living in Braunschweig, near Hanover, where he boasted to friends he had opened a local shop. He claimed he worked from seven in the morning until midnight but the business, along with his relationship, failed and he began to hit the bottle and live on benefits.
German TV station RTL.DE interviewed a friend of Bruekner’s who met him in Braunschweig, and is believed to have lived above his shop.
Norbert M, whose name was changed by the TV station, said: ‘You couldn’t tell what made him tick.’
Norbert claimed his former friend was in debt to many people and was running a kiosk in the town.
The witness claimed Bruekner had an underage Kosovan girlfriend, though he had never seen the suspect with young children.
He said: ‘I heard that he left the kiosk and then went to Portugal or Spain with a girl. He then left dogs in his kiosk for weeks.
‘I can imagine that he is behind the disappearance of Maddie.’
His twisted obsession with child pornography caught up with him and, in 2016, he was sentenced by a district court there to one year and three months’ imprisonment for ‘sexually abusing a child in the act of procuring himself and possessing child pornography.’
After his bar-room claims to a friend about Madeleine, on the tenth anniversary in May 2017, Brueckner appears to have returned to the Algarve, but within a month he was arrested there under a European Arrest Warrant and extradited back to Germany.
Brueckner is currently behind bars in Germany serving 21 months for dealing drugs. While he was in prison last December he was also found guilty of raping a 72-year-old American tourist in Praia da Luz just 18 months before Madeleine disappeared.
The seven-year jail term for this conviction will not start until his appeal has been heard.
His legal battle with the German authorities over the rape case means he could walk free within days having served two-thirds of his drugs sentence in Kiel prison, Schleswig-Holstein, according to the German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau.
The paedophile was arrested while living on the streets of Milan in late 2018 on a European Arrest Warrant over the Algarve rape of the 72-year-old American. He was brought back to Germany and charged in August 2019. A month earlier he was convicted of drug dealing in the German resort of Sylt and handed the 21-month term he is currently serving.
This is Christian Brueckner’s home in Braunschweig near Hanover, where he had lived before he fled to Italy and was arrested over the rape of an American in Praia da Luz
He also ran this corner shop in Braunschweig, where the tenant living above it described him as violent at revealed that he had an underage Kosovan girlfriend
In December 2019 a court in Braunschweig, where he had lived before fleeing to Italy, convicted him of the rape because DNA from his hair was found in the woman’s holiday home – making it a 244billion to one chance it was not him, the judge was told.
But he is appealing the rape verdict on the grounds his extradition from Italy was illegal with Germany’s Federal High Court due to rule on the case, and if they find against him he will then start his seven-year sentence. German legal experts said last night that his appeal means he is on the verge of getting parole and could get his freedom as early as Sunday.