The latest suspect in the Madeleine McCann case slammed his British ex-girlfriend’s head into a wall and left her covered in blood simply for hugging another man, it has been claimed.
After attacking her in the ladies toilets of the bar where she worked in the Algarve, Portugal in 2005, Christian Brueckner is then said to have smashed the window of her studio flat and hid under the bed waiting for her.
The 45-year-old woman told The Mirror she had a ‘horrible feeling’ the convicted sex offender was ready to ambush her in case she brought back another man. But she says he simply stared at her and said ‘goodbye’ before running away and launching a terrifying stalking campaign.
Authorities say the suspect lived in the Algarve area of Portugal between 1995 and 2007 – the year Madeleine disappeared from the Ocean Club holiday resort in nearby Praia da Luz. Police say he worked casual jobs in the catering business but also supplemented his income by selling drugs and carrying out burglaries in hotels.
Investigators have previously said they believe the girl’s abductor broke into the family’s holiday apartment through a window.
Last week Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) announced that they were treating the case as a murder and identified their latest suspect as a convicted paedophile who is currently serving time for raping a 72-year-old American woman in Portugal in 2005.
He was named only as ‘Christian B’ by German media due to strict rules on naming their criminals, but Portuguese sources have revealed the 43-year-old sex offender’s full name.
His British ex-girlfriend, from Berkshire, moved to the Portuguese town of Lagos in late 2003, having spent a number of years living in the Netherlands. She says it is ‘chilling’ to think her could have played a part in abducting McCann.
Brueckner worked alongside her as a waiter and they slowly became friends in spring 2004.
The woman said: ‘Chris could be very, very charming, very funny and very smooth in the way he talked. He always dressed nicely, holding the door open for women, that kind of thing. I was alone here in Portugal, no family around and a bit lonely and I was getting all this attention from this guy.’
After hitting it off and starting a relationship, the woman said she regularly stayed over at the farmhouse he was renting – 25 minutes away from the Ocean Club holiday resort.
The woman says Brueckner was ‘very easy going’ and that their ‘sex life was normal’. She says things were great between them until the winter when the relationship took a dark turn.
Alarm bells started ringing when she bumped into a male friend in Lagos in late 2004 and had a catch up.
All of a sudden she says he stopped talking to her ‘like he was spooked’. Someone later told her Brueckner had threatened him after seeing them chatting.
She says her boyfriend started shouting at her over the smallest things and berated her for not cleaning his house, even though she had a flat of her own.
The ex added: ‘He was like, “You should clean my house, you’re a woman”. He said he had two Portuguese girlfriends before me and they both cleaned his house even though they never lived there. I remember saying, “but I’m not Portuguese”, and he replied saying “English women are all lazy”.’
As Brueckner got more and more paranoid and possessive, his ex began developing suspicions of her own as he travelled back and forth between Portugal and Germany one week afbter another.
She looked at his phone and found a message saying ‘Ich liebe dich’ (I love you) from an unknown sender called B using a German number. The woman says she confronted him about what was going on and he ‘went completely crazy’ at her.
A few weeks later, in the early hours of New Year’s Day, the woman says Chris was drunk at a bar where she was working.
After some male friends came over from the pub next door to hug her and say happy New Year.
The woman says he came round the bar ‘in a crazy rage’, grabbed her by the neck, pulled her into the ladies toilets and smashed her head against the wall.
Four men managed to drag him away and call the police while the woman lay covered in blood.
But she refused to deal with officers as she was so scared about what could happen to her if Brueckner was arrested.
When she later returned home she says the atmosphere ‘felt strange’. She felt like someone must have been there as the toilet seat had been left up.
The woman says she checked through the cupboards then got the ‘shock of her life’ when she peeked under the bed to see Brueckner staring right at her.
She says he got out from under the bed ‘like everything was normal’, said goodbye and walked out.
As she stood there shaking in terror, she suspected he was waiting to see if she brought anyone back with her and dreaded to think what would have happened if she had.
Despite pleas from friends to leave him alone, the woman says she rekindled her relationship with Brueckner weeks later after ‘begged for forgiveness’ and promised never to drink again – but that wasn’t the end of their problems.
After finding a pair of women’s underwear in Brueckner’s bag in mid-2005s, she confronted him and said he once again ‘went totally crazy’ and the relationship was over.
She says he then started hanging around the restaurant where she worked and ‘stalked her constantly’. As punishment for not talking to him, she says he once knocked a big tray of drinks out of her hand.
Police were called and he was banned from setting foot in the restaurant, but that didn’t stop him from lurking outside and following her, the woman claims.
On some occasions he allegedly threatened he would find out where her parents live and hurt them. The woman never felt safe walking home and had to get friends to escort her.
Despite his possessiveness, the ex-girlfriend says Brueckner had a string of relationships with older women and now suspects he could have been working as a gigolo.
Having put that chapter of her life behind her, the woman was surprised when detectives showed up at her doorstep last year and questioned her about Brueckner raping an American pensioner shortly after their break up.
They didn’t mention Madeleine McCann but at this point he was also suspected of abducting her.
The police officers quizzed her about their sex life, their relationship and how he treated women in a bid to paint a profile of him.
It was only when British and German police made an unexpected media appeal last week that she realised the link to Madeleine.
The ex-girlfriend says she was ‘shocked’ to see it in the news and said there was ‘absolutely no sign’ of Brueckner being into young children.
She added: ‘I couldn’t believe I had been with someone who could be capable of that. To imagine I’ve been with someone who is capable of hurting someone like that is sickening. It’s so hard for me to believe it’s true.
German prosecutors say they have enough evidence to suggest Brueckner killed Madeleine. But they say without more information from members of the public, they might not have enough to make the case stand up in court.
Brueckner has also been linked to the disappearance of two other children. He is being investigated over five-year-old Inga Gehricke going missing from a forest in Germany’s Saxony-Anhalt region in 2015. However he is yet to be pinpointed as a suspect.
Authorities are also thought to be examining links to the disappearance of six-year-old René Hasee, who vanished in 2007 on a family holiday in Aljezur in the Portuguese Algarve – 25 minutes away from Praia da Luz.
German media claim police called the boy’s father for the first time in 20 years and told him ‘there could be a connection’ but the force declined to comment on the case.