The lover of Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner today refused to answer questions about her involvement in the youngster’s disappearance, when challenged to tell the truth by MailOnline.
Nicole Fehlinger was last night revealed as the German drifter’s accomplice who could hold the key to unlocking the mystery of what happened to the missing three-year-old.
She was accused on Portuguese TV of working the German drifter to carry out a burglary in the Algarve that bore a chilling similarity to the break-in at the McCann’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, in May 2007.
But pictured today outside her home in Bavaria, Germany, the 43-year-old refused to deny any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance or to clarify her relationship with Brueckner – after her claims she hardly knew him were exposed as a lie.
Nicole Fehlinger, 43, pictured outside her home in Bavaria, Germany. She refused to deny any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance or to clarify her relationship with Brueckner
Court documents in Portugal have revealed that had regular phone conversations with Brueckner and enjoyed a romantic weekend break in Lisbon together – just months after Madeleine disappeared in May 2007.
Nicole Fehlinger was accused of tipping off the German drifter so he could steal a family’s life-savings from a house along the coast from Praia da Luz in November 2007.
Portuguese TV crime show Friday at Nine reported: ‘As in the Maddie case, the phone call took place just before the crime, signalling that the house was free.
‘A man who neighbours have described as being Christian Brueckner made a phone call and left with a ruck sack from which hung a heavy tool.’
The family contacted the police and accused Fehlinger of being involved in the burglary but the case was never solved.
When asked under interrogation who she had called on a disposable mobile phone just before the Euro 100,000 burglary in Albufeira, Fehlinger replied: ‘Christian Brueckner.’
However the mother-of-three has always maintained she hardly knew the German serial sex offender.
Nicole Fehlinger told a friend: ‘I only met Christian Brueckner six or seven times. We knew each other but I was not his girlfriend.
Fehlinger, pictured in Germany, was last night revealed as the German drifter’s accomplice who could hold the key to unlocking the mystery of what happened to the three-year-old
Fehlinger outside her home in Germany. She is alleged to have enjoyed a passionate nine-month relationship with Brueckner in 2007 while her long-term boyfriend was in Germany
‘One day I came home and he was in my neighbour’s garden and they were talking about cars.
‘My neighbour told me he was German and he introduced me. Because we are both German we started talking.
‘Sometime later he asked if he could park his campervan outside my house. He asked if he could take water and some electricity. I said why not.’
Fehlinger, who was looking after troubled children as part of a German fostering programme, added: ‘He came into the house sometimes – for something to eat and to watch over the children.
‘I was not interested in him. I had my own boyfriend at the time. But I cannot say that he was not interested in me.’
Fehlinger has twice been interviewed by the German Federal BKA police who are in leading the probing the Madeleine McCann case about her relationship with Christian Brueckner.
The hotel receptionist has repeatedly maintained she had nothing to do with the youngster’s disappearance.
Detectives in northern Germany have spent six weeks making desperate appeals for information to link Brueckner, left, to Madeleine’s, right, abduction
But her father – who was shocked when Brueckner revealed he could smuggle drugs and children in his campervan – does not believe she has told everything she knows.
Dieter Fehlinger told a friend: ‘Nicole does not tell me everything about her life in Portugal.
‘I don’t know what I can believe about what she has told me.’
Nicole is alleged to have enjoyed a passionate nine-month relationship with Brueckner in 2007 while her long-term boyfriend was back in Germany.
Her father added: ‘Nicole went to Portugal with a boyfriend. But he was not there when I went to visit. She told me he was back in Germany.
‘Later I found out that when the boyfriend came back he told Brueckner to get out.’
Herr Fehlinger was interviewed by German Federal BKA police last month after he revealed that Brueckner had bragged that he was a drug smuggler and could hide children in his motorhome.
He revealed: ‘There were two plain-clothed officers. They interviewed me for about two hours.
‘I told them everything – about the motorhome, the drugs and the children.’
The 65-year-old former ambulance driver father was visiting his daughter Nicole at the villa where she helped to rehabilitate troubled German teenagers in the early part of 2007 when Brueckner arrived in a large cream-coloured Winnebago campervan with Hanover licence plates.
Dieter explained: ‘As I looked inside, I asked him: “Herr Brueckner, what do you do in Portugal? What is your job?”
‘He told me: “I work, I get money, because I have a special business. I transport grass [cannabis] in my van.” I was surprised, I did not believe it exactly.
‘Brueckner told me again: “I have 50kg of grass, and I transport it around Europe.” I thought he was joking at the time. He said: “In my van, I can take 50kg of grass, nobody can see it.”
‘He told me: “I can transport children, kids, in this space. Drugs and children, you can transport them in this van, it’s a safe space in the van, nobody can find them. Nobody can catch you.” ’
Last month German police named Brueckner as their prime suspect in the kidnap and murder of three-year-old Madeleine who vanished on May 3rd 2007 while on holiday in Praia da Luz with parents Kate and Gerry McCann.
Detectives in northern Germany have spent six weeks making desperate appeals for information to link Brueckner to the youngster’s abduction but have not so far secured the vital evidence they need.
Prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters, who is leading the investigation, has told the McCanns they have concrete evidence that Madeleine is dead, in the biggest break-through in the 13-year-old case.
He said he hoped to be able to charge Brueckner within the next two months – but has added that their investigation will not drag on forever.