COPS hunting a missing girl dubbed the “German Maddie” have reopened a probe into Madeleine McCann prime suspect Christian B.
Police in Germany are set to again search a derelict factory site previously owned by the serial sex predator.
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He is being investigated over the suspected abduction and murder of five-year-old Inga Gehricke.
The dramatic twist came as it emerged 43-year-old paedophile and convicted rapist Christian B had spoken of disposing of a small child’s body.
Inga is believed to have been snatched while collecting wood for a barbecue with her family in a forest in central Germany on May 2, 2015.
She disappeared the day before the eighth anniversary of the day Madeleine McCann went missing from her family’s Portugal holiday apartment in 2007.
Christian B refused to comment about Inga’s disappearance when questioned in prison recently by German police.
It is understood a detective from the Met’s Operation Grange team investigating Madeleine’s abduction was also present during the interview.
CHILD ABUSE PICTURES FOUND AT PAEDO'S LAIR
Police first searched the disused factory where Christian B lived in 2016.
They fear the dilapidated property, half a mile down a country track from the nearest road, was his lair.
It is 48 miles from where Inga disappeared.
Police found no sign of the girl, who is known in her home country as the “German Maddie” because she is also small and fair-haired like the Brit.
But they seized a memory stick which was found to have child abuse images stored on it.
Officers also found girls’ clothing in a caravan at the ex-pallet factory where Christian B regularly stayed.
And they uncovered an online chat in which Christian B told how he wanted to kidnap and sexually abuse a child.
In the September 2013 conversation with another paedophile, he said he wanted to “capture something small and use it for days”.
When his online pal said that plan could be dangerous, Christian B replied, “Oh, if the evidence is destroyed afterwards”, German online news site Der Spiegel reported yesterday.
Christian B was later jailed for 15 months for distributing child abuse images and sexually abusing children.
But police dropped their investigation into him over Inga’s disappearance within a month of searching his home, the family’s lawyer said.
Police began examining potential links between Christian B and Inga again in 2017 after he first came into the frame for Madeleine’s abduction.
It followed an appeal to mark the tenth anniversary of her disappearance by the Met Police.
Madeleine vanished on May 3, 2007, from her family’s Algarve holiday apartment in Praia da Luz.
Christian B was living nearby at the time.
Yesterday, German prosecutors officially said that they are now reopening the investigation into Inga’s disappearance.
They did not name Christian B — in line with German privacy laws — but Stendal Public Prosecutor's Office spokeswoman Birte Iliev stated: “It is now being examined whether there is any new evidence in connection with the murder suspect in Braunschweig.”
Christian B previously lived in the Lower Saxony city.
He is being held in prison in the city of Kiel after December’s conviction for the 2005 rape of a US woman aged 72 in Praia da Luz.
Christian B is appealing against his jail sentence of seven years on the basis of an extradition loophole following his arrest in Italy in September 2018 for drug trafficking.
Italian police, who arrested him at the German consulate in Milan when he arrived to report his passport stolen, yesterday released a new mugshot of Christian B.
'IT DOESN'T BEAR THINKING ABOUT'
One of the cops involved in the arrest said yesterday: “We had no idea of the sex crimes he had been accused off.
“All we knew was that he was wanted for drugs offences.
“When he turned up, we bundled him to the floor.
“He kept saying we had the wrong person and he was innocent but his picture and personal details all matched.
“I recognised him immediately after his name was linked to Madeleine McCann and all his terrible previous came out.
“I was shocked because we all have kids and what he did to them and what he may have done with Madeleine is terrible. It doesn’t bear thinking about.”
It has now emerged Christian B owned a ramshackle factory site in Neuwegersleben, in the district of Börde, 45 miles from Braunshweig.
The building is 48 miles from the Wilhelmshof forest where Inga vanished on a day trip from her home in Schönebeck, Saxony-Anhalt.
The day previous, Christian B was reported to have been involved in an accident while parking at an autobahn service station in Helmstedt.
It is just 20 miles from his home, where he kept his Jaguar car which he had in the Algarve at the time Madeleine went missing.
A large-scale search with sniffer dogs and helicopters was carried out but no trace of Inga was found.
His nearest neighbour said that Christian B sometimes stayed for weeks at a time at the caravan with a girlfriend and male pal.
The neighbour said: “When he was here, he had 14 cars on the site and a caravan he lived in.
“The police were here for a week when they searched last time.
“If it is true he has killed these girls then he should go to prison and never be let out.
“It is very sad for both families of the little girls.”
Petra Küllmei, lawyer for Inga’s mother, criticised cops for ending their investigation into Christian B.
She said: “The file was closed only four weeks after the work began.
“I consider that lacking in ambition.”
She added that Christian B had no alibi for the day Inga disappeared.
Inga’s parents have previously spoken of their sorrow.
Mum Viktoria said in 2017: “My feeling tells me she is still alive.”
But social worker dad Jens-Uwe, 52, reckoned: “I don’t have a good feeling about the outcome, as much as I wish for it.
“I still hope she will be found, but the hope of her coming back alive is zero.”
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