Police in Portugal have reopened their investigation into an Irish woman’s five-hour rape ordeal after it was linked to the Madeleine McCann kidnap suspect.
Hazel Behan, 37, who was raped in an apartment in Praia da Rocha in 2004, believes her attacker may have been German drifter Christian Brueckner.
Brueckner, who is the main suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, was convicted of a similar rape a year after Ms Behan was attacked.
Portuguese detectives arrived at the court in Portiamo earlier this week to retrieve their own archived case files as they attempt to build a case against Brueckner.
Hazel Behan, 37, (pictured) who was raped in apartment in Praia da Rocha in 2004, believes her attacker may have been German drifter Christian Brueckner
‘Detectives are looking again for new evidence and the investigation is reopened,’ a source told Sky News.
Ms Behan, who waived her right to anonymity last month, was working as a holiday rep, aged 20, in Praia da Rocha on the Algarve coast in April 2004.
She recently revealed details of the attack which saw a masked man climb over the balcony to her apartment in the early hours of the morning.
He is said to have held a knife to her throat, tied and gagged her before raping her repeatedly.
Ms Behan contacted Scotland Yard after Brueckner was named as the main suspect in the Madeleine case with details emerging about his conviction for raping an American woman in similar circumstances.
Christian Brueckner (pictured left) left Portugal after Madeline McCann (pictured right) disappeared on May 3 2007
She told the Guardian at the time: ‘My mind was blown when I read how he had attacked a woman in 2005, both the tactics and the methods he used, the tools he had with him, how well he had planned it out.
‘I puked, to be honest with you, as reading about it took me right back to my experience.’
Mother-of-two Ms Behan said at the time that the Met Police had told her they were taking her case very seriously and would be contacting Portuguese counterparts after taking a statement.
And it appears the case in Portugal has now been re-opened.
Ms Behan has previously said that she was treated badly by the Portuguese detectives as they abandoned their investigation after eight months without identifying a suspect.
But it is thought that even if police find enough evidence against Brueckner for Ms Behan’s attack he is unlikely to be charged due to the 15-year statute of limitations on rape investigations.
Ms Behan was working as a holiday rep and was living in the resort town of Praia da Rocha, which is around 20 miles away from Praia da Luz – where Madeleine was abducted in 2007
The re-opening of the case comes after DNA from the attack was destroyed on the orders of Portuguese prosecutors.
Ms Behan originally went public with the details of her horrific ordeal after discovering Bruecker had been convicted late last year of the September 2005 rape of an American in Praia da Luz where Madeleine vanished in May 2007.
But last month it emerged that the DNA evidence collected from the crime scene was destroyed around two months before Madeleine’s disappearance.
It means the chance of making any solid link between the two cases if the same offender was responsible could prove impossible.
The extraordinary decision was laid bare in court papers relating to Ms Behan’s rape in Praia da Rocha a half-hour drive east of Praia da Luz.
Christian Brueckner (pictured with a friend in 2011) was convicted of a similar rape of an American woman a year after Ms Behan was attacked
It followed the March 2007 mothballing of the court probe to try to catch the beast who raped the former holiday rep in a sustained five-hour attack after threatening her with a machete.
The decision to shelve the investigation was linked to the fact identifying possible suspects was complicated by the fact the rape occurred during Euro 2004 when more people were in the area and it appeared to be a ‘one-off’ attack.
The case files state the victim described her rapist as an English speaker who could be ‘German, Belgian or Dutch.’
Ms Behan’s underwear was among clothes passed on to a lab for expert analysis along with a broken nail.
The documents make it clear DNA was obtained but no match. They do not specify the exact nature of the material recovered.
Confirming the destruction of the DNA evidence, they say: ‘On March 15 2007 when the judge decides to archive the investigation, the Public Ministry decide any biological material should be destroyed.’
They add: ‘As they are in a bad condition it is improbable that if this re-investigation was reopened the material could be subjected to counterproof analysis.’
The astonishing DNA decision emerged just days after the former head of Portugal’s National Forensic Medicine Institute said the evidence collected from the McCanns’ holiday apartment could still prove valuable in unlocking the 13-year mystery.
Duarte Nuno Vieira, President President of Portugal’s National Forensic Medicine Institute when the youngster vanished, said all the samples taken were kept under lock and key at a lab in the northern city of Coimbra and could be used for re-testing with today’s modern technology whenever needed.
He told Portuguese broadcaster CMTV: ‘The samples are still being kept in optimum conditions and despite the fact 13 years have gone by, it’s still possible today to repeat tests.’
Recent unconfirmed Portuguese reports claimed convicted rapist Brueckner had been ruled out as a suspect in the Hazel Behan case but gave no indication why.
Dubliner Ms Behan, who has now returned to Ireland, also told the Guardian in an interview last week she recalled a distinctive mark on the top of Bruecker’s right thigh which could have been a birthmark or a tattoo.
The German is said to have birthmarks on his upper right thigh.
The new gaffe by Portuguese authorities comes on the back of revelations yesterday that Brueckner admitted to an Algarve judge after he was caught for stealing diesel in April 2006 that he had a teenage sex conviction.
The 43-year-old German admitted his sordid past in his initial court quiz following his detention, court papers from the time show.
The revelation put Portuguese police under the spotlight over their initial failure to link Brueckner to the Maddie inquiry.
The information that showed he was a sex offender and not just a petty thief was a matter of public record in Portugal.
The German molested a six-year-old girl in a playground in his home town of Wurzburg, Bavaria, in 1994 when he was just 17.
Brueckner left his homeland for the Algarve after serving part of a two-year youth sentence for the crime.
Portuguese police chief Carlos Farinha had recently tried to pass the blame for Brueckner slipping through the net 13 years ago by revealing his name was among hundreds passed on to Scotland Yard Grange detectives investigating Maddie’s disappearance in 2011.
He insisted Scotland Yard detectives had never asked the PJ to take a closer look at him.
Brueckner only came back on the police radar in 2017, after confessing to a bar room pal in Germany on the 10th anniversary of Maddie’s disappearance that he knew what had happened to her.