Madeleine McCann Christian Brueckner
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Channel 5 documentary examines Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner

He's the prime suspect in her disappearance

Christian Brueckner is currently the “prime suspect” in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

But is this because there’s enough evidence against him?

Or is he the only suspect in what remains one of the most distressing crimes in recent history?

A new documentary on Channel 5 aims to find out.

Here’s everything you need to know about Christian Brueckner, and the case against him.

Christian Brueckner
Christian Brueckner is the “prime suspect” in the Portuguese police’s investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann (Credit: Shutterstock)

Read more: Madeleine McCann breakthrough hope as German prosecutor ‘finds new evidence’

Who is Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner?

Christian Brueckner is a named suspect in the Madeleine McCann case.

Portuguese police recently named him as an “arguido” – an official suspect – in the abduction and murder of three-year-old Maddie.

In June 2020, Portuguese police named German-born Christian as the man “responsible” for Maddie’s kidnap and murder.

However, police have so far not bought charges against him.

He is a convicted sex offender, paedophile and burglar.

How old is Christian Brueckner?

Christian Brueckner is currently 44 years of age.

He was born in 1976 as Christian Fischer in Bavaria.

His birth mother gave him up for adoption, and placed him in a children’s home in Würzburg.

The Brueckner family subsequently adopted the German national.

Madeleine McCann as she would have looked at six
Madeleine McCann as she would have looked at six (Credit: Shutterstock)

Read more: Disappearance of Madeleine McCann: Portuguese locals make heartbreaking confession

Christian Brueckner early life

Christian Brueckner sexually abused girls from a young age.

He was first arrested in 1992 on suspicion of a burglary in his hometown of Würzburg.

In 1994, when he was just 18, police sentenced him for the sexual abuse of children when he molested a six-year-old girl in a public playground.

A judge gave him a two-year youth jail sentence for “abusing a child” and “performing sex acts in front of a child”.

In 1995, he travelled to Portugal and began working as a caterer in the seaside resorts of Lagos and Praia da Luz.

Friends, however, say he began to traffic drugs into the Algarve.

Does Christian Breukner have a criminal record?

As well as his two year youth jail sentence (see above) for sexually abusing a child, Christian has a string of other convictions.

Brueckner spent two months in Evora prison in 1999 for a minor offence, and nine months in 2006 after being caught stealing diesel from lorries on a garage forecourt.

In 2011, police sentenced him for “dealing narcotics” in Niebüll, northern Germany.

In 2016, a judge gave him 15 months in prison for “sexual abuse of a child in the act of creating and possessing child pornographic material”.

Police extradited him from Portugal back to Germany in June of 2017, for the Braunschweig district court 15 month sentence for the sexual abuse of a child.

He lived on the streets after being released in August of 2018.

Police jailed him again shortly after for drug offences.

In September of 2018, police arrested him in Milan, Italy, extradited him to Germany, and put him on trial for the rape of an American tourist in 2007.

Police found a DNA match to his hair at the crime scene.

A judge and jury convicted him in Braunschweig in 2017.

That crime went unsolved until 2019, when – following a tip-off from a former friend – Christian Brueckner was arrested and charged.

Where did Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner live?

Christian was living on the Algarve coast at the time of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance.

He lived in a motorhome.

Madeleine McCann's parents
Madeleine McCann’s parents Kate and Gerry were also suspects at one time (Credit: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock)

Why do the police suspect Christian Brueckner?

Christian was in Portugal when Madeleine McCann disappeared from the country while on holiday.

Three-year-old Madeleine – who would now be 18 – vanished from her family’s holiday flat on the Algarve in 2007.

Christian is a known paedophile, and is being investigated over at least five other sex crimes.

In addition to being investigated over the disappearance of Maddie, Christian Brueckner is also being investigated over the disappearance of five-year-old Inga Gehricke.

Inga went missing during a family barbecue by the Wilhelmsholf, an assisted living facility located in the district of Stendal in May 2015.

Christian was living in the same area as the location of the barbecue.

What is the evidence against him?

Christian Brueckner allegedly confessed to a friend that he’d snatched Madeleine.

Mobile phone records also allegedly placed him in Praia da Luz the night she vanished.

Christian received a 30 minute call in Praia da Luz (the area in which the resort McCann was last seen) around an hour before she disappeared.

However, new evidence found by former detective Mark Williams-Thomas finds that the phone evidence linking Christian to Madeleine’s disappearance – the crucial 680 number – could have been up to 35 kilometres away.

In July 2020, it was reported that Christian B modified his VW camper van so that he could use it to hide a child.

Of course, there’s the glaring fact that Christian is a convicted paedophile who was close to the scene of the crime.

He also had motive – to carry out his sick fantasies.

Christian Brueckner
Portuguese police are investigating Christian Brueckner on suspicion of abducting and murdering Madeleine McCann (Credit: Shutterstock)

What does arguido mean?

An “arguido” is a Portuguese legal designation which elevates a witness to the status of official suspect.

It is often a precursor to charges being laid.

Maddie’s parents Kate and Gerry were also suspects at one time.

Police named Christian Brueckner “arguido” as a result of a legal technicality.

Under Portugal’s statute of limitations, crimes punishable by a maximum prison sentence cannot generally be prosecuted after 15 years.

That anniversary falls in the coming weeks, meaning Christian Brueckner needed to be placed formally under suspicion before that date, in order to charge him in the future.

Where is Christian Brueckner? Is he still alive?

Christian Brueckner is in a German jail.

He’s currently at a high-security prison in Oldenburg, near the small northern prison of Bremen dubbed the Alcatraz of Germany.

He is serving time for the rape of a 72-year-old American tourist in Portugal.

The crime took place 18 months before Maddie was abducted on May 02 2007.

However, he has always maintained that he had nothing to do with Maddie’s disappearance.

Christian Brueckner latest news

Christian Brueckner is the only named suspect in the Madeleine McCann case.

Police have not yet charged him with any crimes in relation to Madeleine.

The investigation is ongoing.

According to former detective Mark Williams-Thomas, Christian has an alibi for the night of Madeleine’s abduction.

He believes there are major flaws in the case against Christian.

Madeleine McCann
Police have failed to find Madeleine McCann’s killer (Credit: Channel 5)

Madeleine McCann: The Case Against Christian B on Channel 5

Madeleine McCann: The Case Against Christian B is a “world exclusive” Channel 5 documentary.

Mark Williams-Thomas carries out the first active, British TV investigation into Madeleine McCann “prime suspect” Christian Brueckner.

The former detective turned investigative journalist obtains an account from Christian himself and tests it against verifiable facts.

On the ground, in both Portugal and Germany, Mark delves into Christian Brueckner’s previous crimes including sex offences and burglary.

Mark pieces together where Christian was thought to be living when Madeleine disappeared.

At one address, a witness reveals that he fears he may have been in Christian’s motorhome with Madeleine inside.

A former associate of Christian’s describes videos he’s seen, allegedly showing Christian’s sexual abuse.

Mark goes on the trail of these videos to see what he can find.

Madeleine McCann documentary on Channel 5

Mark also tracks Christian’s movements in Germany after Madeleine disappeared.

He visits the sites of Christian’s child abuse offences.

Using this evidence, Mark tracks down an alleged paedophile that Christian communicated with.

The former detective also discovers what appear to be weaknesses in the German prosecution case.

He examines an alleged “confession” by Christian Brueckner, which may not have been reliable.

Mark finds out that the phone evidence linking Christian to Madeleine’s disappearance – the crucial 680 number – could have been up to 35 kilometres away.

This number also may not have belonged to Christian B, but a German friend of his.

Crucially, Christian B writes to Mark with a new alibi.

He claimed he had a holiday fling with a German 18-year-old girl the week of Madeleine’s disappearance.

Ultimately, investigator Mark Williams-Thomas – the man who exposed Jimmy Savile – comes to the conclusion that Christian Brueckner is innocent of killing Madeleine McCann.

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Madeleine McCann: The Case Against Christian B airs on Channel 5 at 9pm on Wednesday May 11 2022.

Do you think Madeleine McCann is still alive? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix.

Helen Fear
TV Editor